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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 1, 2008
3.5 stars for this one. Since this is a big deal to me, I'll first mention that none of these three films are presented in widescreen format.

Before Schwarzenegger and Stallone, my go-to cinematic action dudes were Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. Now, there's no doubting that Eastwood is the more celebrated actor and director, while Reynolds's flicks are more often dismissed as lightweight and mindless material. There's truth to that. Yet I find plenty of Burt's stuff entertaining. And several of his movies do have some measures of depth (The Longest Yard (Lockdown Edition),Starting Over, etc.). This particular triple feature dvd set focuses on two of his better films, the atmospheric crime thriller SHARKY'S MACHINE and the very good HOOPER. Rounding the set out is STROKER ACE, which isn't as good.

Before the baby, let's get to the bathwater. 1983's STROKER ACE is harmless and vacuous. If you're into auto racing or just into cars running amuck and slamming into each other, then you might enjoy this one. Plenty of dumb jock shenanigans here, and whirls around the motor speedway. Burt, firmly entrenched in his good-old-boy persona, plays Stroker Ace, one of the top stock-car racers around, and, boy, he knows it. But the flamboyant Stroker learns a lesson in humility when he agrees to be sponsored by a fried chicken franchise, as he signs without first reading the contract. It's not too long before he's parading around in a chicken outfit and having "fastest chicken in the South" painted on his race car. And, in between one-upping his main rival (Hardy Boys' Parker Stevenson, cast against type) and his various schemes to get out of his sponsor's contract, Stroker is trying his bestest to bed the buxom but very chaste Sunday school teacher (Loni Anderson).

It all ends well, of course, with Burt zooming over the finish line upside down in his race car and winning the girl. Cooperation from NASCAR and cameos by NASCAR drivers lend a certain authenticity, for whatever that's worth in a film so bogged down by insipid comedy and a forgettable story. Two things going STROKER ACE, though: the theme song sung by the marvelous Charlie Daniels Band and the outtakes shown during the closing credits.

"You can hit him, kick him, generally abuse him. Set him on fire...will amuse him. Heaven knows, he won't hold a grudge." As HOOPER's theme song will let you know, the Hollywood stunt man tends to live life rough and rugged. Sonny Hooper (Reynolds) is the world's greatest stunt man. But he's getting old and really starting to feel his aches and pains. Nowadays, he stays on top by virtue of sheer guts and lots and lots of pain pills. On the set of the spy epic The Spy Who Laughed at Danger, Hooper begins to second guess his longevity in the business, what with his body breaking down and the arrival of a younger stunt man who's being touted as a "young Sonny Hooper." But, before Hooper rides into the sunset, there's one more stunt to do, this undoubtedly his greatest and most dangerous...

HOOPER is a fond cinematic salute to those wild movie stuntmen and women. There's an elegiac flavor to the story as the aging Hooper contemplates hanging it all up, even as machismo wars against good sense. The cast is very good, with Burt, Sally Fields, Jan-Michael Vincent, and James Best (The Dukes of Hazzard's Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane) investing depth into their characters. Oh, and Adam West plays himself. HOOPER was shot in 1978, when special effects were still predominantly achieved with blood, sweat, and tears, instead of CG. Two particular stunts to watch out for are when Hooper drives backwards on the road going 55 miles per hour and, of course, the showpiece sequence near the end, as Hooper and Ski brave that daunting chasm in their rocket-charged car. HOOPER is also noteworthy for reportedly having inspired THE FALL GUY, one of my childhood television staples.

Changing it up now is Burt's taut and sexy crime thriller SHARKY'S MACHINE. This film is supposedly Burt's response to his buddy Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry series. And, truly, SHARKY'S MACHINE stands up very well to Harry Callahan's exploits. Burt directs and stars as a narcotics sergeant in Atlanta PD who gets busted down to the cesspool-like vice squad. As the film goes on, he develops an obsession for a hauntingly beautiful prostitute who had just been murdered. This happens to tie in with his ongoing attempt to take down a shadowy underworld boss who's got his fingers deep in political corruption.

Borrowing from LAURA's key premise, SHARKY'S MACHINE is still very much its own picture, in its grit and moodiness and exciting action pieces. The jazz score sets the melancholy tone, and the love story is surprisingly well developed. The supporting cast is superb, with particular nods to Brian Keith as Papa, Richard Libertini as Nosh, and Bernie Casey as Arch. Burt himself turns in a layered and sensitive performance. And I must say that Rachel Ward is a straight-up stunner as Dominoe. Everything is right with SHARKY'S MACHINE. It's Burt's most perfect film and, hands down, my favorite Burt Reynolds flick (with THE LONGEST YARD a not-that-distant second).

In his heyday, Burt Reynolds was a walking sex symbol and lovable rogue, his box-office reign spanning the mid-70s and early '80s. These three featured films were made during the height of his popularity, with STROKER ACE and HOOPER exemplifying his brand of raucous, good-old-boy comedy. For the asking price, this triple feature isn't a bad get, although, as mentioned, one beef I do have is that all three films aren't in widescreen format. There are two discs, with STROKER ACE and HOOPER on opposide sides of disc 1 and SHARKY'S MACHINE hogging disc 2 to itself. Admittedly pretty barebones stuff, with no bonus features. Still, if you already don't have these films, this collection is worth a look.
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on February 20, 2009
If you want average TV quality, these three movies-in-one are okay. But some reviewers claimed that the "Sharky" supplied is widescreen. IT IS NOT. It also suffers from excessive compression, just like the older single disc Sharky DVD. They compressed it deeply to fit onto a single-layer cheapo DVD media. The ONLY ORIGINAL uncensored version of Sharky's Machine is still - sadly - only available (to the best of my knowledge) on LASERDISC.
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on July 17, 2007
Here is an icon in his prime. Stroker Ace may be very silly, but Hooper and Sharkey's Machine are genuine works of art for the era. They set up the framework for action comedy/melodrama for now. I love these movies. I wish Burt could still do what he did. He will always be awesome in my book. One note, I wish these movies were in widescreen.
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on August 16, 2014
I bought this collection just to get Hooper,.so my rating is just for Hooper. I already own Sharky's Machine and could care less about Stroker Ace but for the price I'm not complaining. It's been a while since I have watched Hooper but I always ranked it as one of Burt's best along with Sharky's Machine, The Longest Yard and Deliverance. As an older person myself I can relate to the slow loss of physical abilities that the passing of time eventually forces on us all. I'm glad I had the good fortune to be able to climb glaciers and raft class 5 whitewater when I was younger. There is what I would call a personal aura that each star has and I like Burt's persona. There is just something I like about him that shows through in every role that he has played from Quint Asper on Gunsmoke to Lewis Medlock in Deliverance. This movie is defiantly worth owning if you like Burt.
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on February 9, 2015
I'm a Burt Reynold's fan and I have to say this is the only reason to buy this collection. However, for racing movie fans, Stroker Ace is hard to beat. It's definitely better than Driven and far less effective than Days of Thunder. It offers a comical, honest view of the sport through the life of Stroker Ace, who has secured a ride from a novice car owner intent on leveraging every ounce of Stroker's fame to sell chicken. It's the only race film to cover sponsorship honestly (sorry Talladega NIghts).

Few know, Burt Reynolds was a stunt man before making it as an actor. He has always had an affinity for stunt men and this is homage to these icons that entertain us at grave risk to themselves. Hooper is a stunt packed film that is entirely over-the-top in scope from Westerns to bar brawls to cars, you've never seen all of this in one flick. It's a solid movie that.

Stroker Ace and Hooper are easy rewatches for me.

Sharky's Machine I just can't get into. The other two films are worth the price of admission easily. I'd love to see Bluray versions of both of them.
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on June 27, 2015
I haven't watched the films yet, but a word of warning to those who are concerned about such things: while (according to IMDB) Stroker Ace and Hooper were filmed in 1.85:1, both are here in full-screen. Sharky's Machine was shot in 1.33:1 and so appears here. I was looking forward to seeing all three; now I'm going to have to think of it as "Sharky's" and two imperfect "bonuses." This is what I get for not reading the other Amazon reviews!
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on September 2, 2014
These three movies are real good I would rate them higher but five is as high as you can give Burt Reynolds is one of the best actors there is and he plays his part to the greatest. I hope you enjoy these movies as much as I do. Thank you
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on January 11, 2014
Three of Burt Reynolds great movies in one package, super price, & prompt shipping, all the things you love about shopping at Amazon. I have always loved the movies Hooper, & Sharky's Machine, Stroker Ace is a greatr comedy that just adds to the package. I enjoyed watching these great films with my kids & they loved watching them as well!
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on December 25, 2014
I really got this for hooper but the other movies still bring me back to those good ole days i wanted to be a stuntman when i was a kid after watching hooper. Burt Reynolds was the best miss those days...
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on May 5, 2000
as a racer myself, i have to say that this is one of the best race films on the market.It has a great cast and is verey funny. Cameo appearances by real Nascar racers makes it even that much better.It reminds me of what it is really like at a race track. If you love racing, this is a must see movie!
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