Jake (Dan Haggerty) is a former Marine and sock car racer from Minnesota who comes out to Los Angeles in search of a new beginning. A fan of John Wayne, the laid back Jake always tries to do the right thing. His first day in L.A., he thwarts a purse snatching and gets a girlfriend named Jenny (Dana Bentley). He also gets a job as a repo man. He repossesses cars from people who aren’t paying their bills and he always does it with a polite smile on his face. He’s the nicest repo man around but that doesn’t keep him from getting on the wrong side of some of the people he meets. When he repossesses the car of a local pornographer, the mob demands that Jake take part in an illegal demolition derby. If he wins, he’ll live. If he loses, both he and everyone who matters to him will die.
Haggerty’s genial presence is the best thing about Repo Jake, a low-budget movie that would probably be unwatchable without him. Haggerty’s so likable that he makes scenes work even when they shouldn’t. My favorite moment was when he walked in on a sleazy photographer trying to manipulate a model into posing topless. “I’m here to repossess your car and I’m pissed off,” Jake politely says before knocking the photographer across the room. If you didn’t know who Dan Haggerty was, you might think that the producers just grabbed a real repo man off the streets and made him the star of their movie. With his big beard and his mellow vibes, Haggerty was a legitimate Hollywood character. Though he found fame playing Grizzly Adams on television, he was arrested in 1984 for selling cocaine to an undercover police officer and his career never really recovered. Haggerty went from being a TV star to appearing in movies like Repo Jake.
The plot of Repo Jake is pretty dumb and nearly impossible to follow. It never makes sense that Jake would be forced to take part in the demolition derby. Actually, nothing about the movie makes sense but a lot of cars get wrecked, a helicopter gets repossessed, and Dan Haggerty knocks a purse snatcher through a store window and it’s all so stupid and Jake’s so friendly that the end result is actually pretty cool. Repo Jake is saved by the sheer likability of Dan Haggerty. It’s hardly a good movie but, at the same time, it’s not a terrible way to spend 90 minutes of your life.