Turk 182 with an all-star cast including Timothy Hutton , Robert Urich, Kim Cattral, Robert Culp, Paul Sorvino and Peter Boyle serves as the quintessential 1980’s “fight the man” feel good movie.
The Good: The cast, the cheezy story, empathy for the protagonist and comedy.
The Bad: Really bad accents, cliché Irish music and the cheezy story.
So what happened?
“Terry” (Robert Urich) a New York fire fighter and his brother “Jimmy” (Timothy Hutton) live in New York City. Terry, while off duty and drunk, heroically dashes from his smoke-filled neighborhood bar into an apartment fire and rescues a young girl. However, he is seriously injured when firefighters inadvertently aim the fire hose at him forcing him—with the girl in his arms through a window crashing on to the top of a car 40 feet down. The girl is uninjured, but Terry is seriously hurt.
Enduring hundreds of rejections from welfare, workers’ compensation and many others government agencies, Jimmy contacts Mayor Tyler (Robert Culp), but while pleading his case to the Mayor, moron Jimmy mentions that his brother was smashed during the accident. Naturally the Mayor rebukes his plea, calling Terry a drunk. As a petty torment, Jimmy sneaks into the mayor’s office and pastes hundreds of the rejection letters inside the Mayor’s office.
Responding to this insult on behalf of the Mayor is Lieutenant Ryan (Peter Boyle), a thuggish cop and chief security officer. They arrive at the brothers’ hangout and arrest Terry who (again loaded this time on booze and pills) takes a swing at the cops and thrown in jail. After posting Terry’s bail, Jimmy learns that his brother is in the hospital after a suicide attempt. At the station he first meets Danielle “Danny” Boudreau (Kim Cattrall), a social worker assigned to Terry’s case.
Jimmy decides to again visit the Mayor, so he goes to Battery Park where the Mayor is giving an anti-graffiti speech but was contained by the police. After seeing the Mayor unveil a giant apple, which slowly revolves to show handiwork by vandals saying “Zimmerman Flew, Tyler Knew”, all to the delight of protesters at the speech, Jimmy starts his own campaign of revenge and embarrassment. Tom Zimmerman, former Public Works Commissioner, had fled the country to avoid trial for an unspecified crime. The news ran stories suggesting that Mayor Tyler not only knew of Zimmerman’s flight, but masterminded it because he ordered Zimmerman’s trial be rescheduled. Using this scandal as leverage, Jimmy begins his battle of wits.
Jimmy consistently gets the better of the Mayor and his goons with badges staying one step ahead of them the entire movie. Among other pranks, Jimmy manages to leave his mark on a supposedly graffiti-proof subway car about to be showcased by Mayor Tyler in an anti-vandalism campaign and hack into the scoreboard computer (with the help of a friend) at Giants Stadium during halftime of a football game.
Naturally Danny and Jimmy develop a personal relationship during the flick and she discovers that her new boyfriend is the mastermind Turk 182. By this time Turk has become immensely popular throughout the city embarrassing the Mayor and making the news.
Turk decides his last appearance will be his masterpiece. Turk will strike when Mayor Tyler appears at a dedication ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Queensboro Bridge. Tyler’s goons clamp down security while preparing for the ceremony and when the mayor throws the switch the sign reads gibberish; Jimmy is still in the process of changing the words. The chaos begins when spotlights catch Jimmy on the bridge and the crowd goes wild. The story goes viral with everyone covering the incident live. Ryan tries to stop the prank in progress but the goons are unable to reach him; Jimmy greased all the lower girders on the bridge.
Turk completes his task, and connects power cables to the letters which spell “TURK 182.” While the crowd is cheering, Tyler says to his crony “As soon as he (Jimmy) gets down we’re gonna find him and tell him we’ve been rooting for him the whole time!”
Yes this movie has many, if not every, cliché in the book. That, however, is the secret to the film’s greatness. Only someone with a heart of stone could not find themselves cheering for Turk by the end of the movie. In fact, Turk 182’s moniker has its origins from another famous New York graffiti writer, TAKI 183. TAKI 183 was a messenger and would write his nickname around the New York City streets during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.
In May 2009, the official TAKI 183 website (http://www.taki183.net/ ) launched and includes photos of his work.
Turk 182 is a cult classic and rightfully so.