|Copyright 1971 National Student Film Corporation.
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 9 May 2001.
- Billy Jack - Judo master, medicine man, and crack shot who loves to wear denim.
- Jean - Pacifist founder of a revolutionary school where kids go to explore their creative talents.
- Sheriff Cole - A pox upon this worthless creature. Why does he even bother getting out of bed in the morning?
- Barbara - Hateful young woman with no self-respect or common sense.
- Martin - Young man who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time and usually gets punched in the stomach for his trouble. At long last somebody doesn't punch him in the stomach, they shoot him four times in the head.
- Mike - Deputy that acts as a toad for the evil bigwig. He is also doing a fantastic job of raising an abrasive and unhappy daughter, until she runs away and Billy Jack shoots him.
- Mr. Posner - Evil bigwig who calls the shots in this small desert town. I don't know why he is the bigwig, especially after seeing the car he drives, but that's the deal.
- Bernard - He is the bigwig's son and a complete wuss for the most part. Finds just enough courage to annoy Billy Jack and get his throat crushed.
|I've had an epiphany: I really don't understand my parents' generation at all.
All things considered, I wanted to like the movie a whole lot more than I did. Our hero is a soft-spoken man who honestly tries to get along with people, until they do something stupid (usually stupid = racist); then he completely knocks their block off. It's a philosophy to live by.
You also have to understand that Billy Jack will be repeatedly referred to as an "Injun," usually with the adjective "damn" preceding. Tom Laughlin does not look like a Native American to me - at all. Except for the hat, one has to admit that the hat looks like something you'd find in a store selling leather products and Native American crafts. So, just to prevent any confusion for first time viewers, if somebody is called an "Indian" (or nasty derivative) then they are probably referring to the Caucasian guy in the denim jacket and black hat.
After being discharged from the Army, the protagonist has taken up residence among Pueblo ruins near a small southwestern town. There he protects the land, wild horses, and Jean's "Freedom School" from evil white men. Mr. Posner is the leader behind the EWMA (Evil White Man Association) and, just to let you know how much of a bigwig he is, the EWMA spends half a day rounding up horses on the reservation. They plan to slaughter them and sell the meat to dog food companies for six cents per pound. They rounded up about two dozen horses and we will say that each weighed twelve-hundred pounds (healthy). Now, let's also say that they garnered eight hundred pounds of usable dog chow from every horse. After dividing the profit between six men you end up with about two hundred dollars each; probably an appreciable amount of money for your average evil redneck, but if this is how Posner amassed his fortune then it's no wonder why he is driving that station wagon.
The day does not turn out profitable for Posner and his men though; Billy Jack rides up and lays down the law, 30-30 style. Thoroughly cowed, the bad guys drop their rifles and leave the reservation with phantom tails tucked between their legs. Enmity between Posner and Billy Jack now established, we can now learn why Mike sucks as a father.
Barbara is supposed to be a character we see grow and mature. At least that is my hypothesis. In reality she is easy to despise. When we are first introduced to the character she has just been returned home (having run away some time ago) and is encouraging Mike's domestic abuse theology. "I'm back, I hate you, I'm also pregnant and, since I've had sex with every guy between here and there, I don't know who the father is. Oh yeah, it's your fault too dad." Now, the jerk might very well be a grand turd in the hopper of parenthood; it is still hard to feel sorry for his daughter. She actually seems to work at proving herself a selfish and hateful witch. Every time her character appeared I had to scowl.
After yet another thumping Barbara runs away and is found unconscious in a field. Sheriff Cole has to do something about the situation, so he elects to hide her at the Freedom School. What the HELL? Half of this town's problems are the result of the Sheriff turning a blind eye to actions that are plainly wrong. How about blaming the man with the badge? Innocent people die during this film and not one person gets mad at Cole. Heck, everybody is happy to be his buddy.
We have mentioned the Freedom School several times now. It is a commune started by Jean to rescue runaways and turn their energy to creative work. One of the saving graces is an impromptu stage group led by Howard Hesseman, because other than that almost everything that happens at the school is agony. What do you think happens in a commune full of hippies? Darn right, they sing songs. They sing a lot of songs. Somebody stop the 70's, I want to get off.
Things start going downhill when the school enters the picture in all its horrible glory, but one of the best scenes in the film results when a busload of students take a trip into town. The kids know that they make the citizens nervous, so what do they do? Drive through town chanting, singing, hanging out the windows, and flashing peace signs at all the squares. Maybe not causing a scene would have been a good idea. Yah think? It was like ringing the dinner bell for Bernard and Dinosaur (an aptly named friend). They come running and bully the kids around until Billy Jack arrives. He sets them straight, but Mr. Posner and a large group of EWMA members have been waiting for a chance like this. Things look glum for Billy, but he calmly removes his boots (butt kicking is best done with bare feet) and does as much damage as possible.
Time to discuss Bernard briefly (let's just waste an entire paragraph). He refuses to shoot the cute horsey for his father's dog food franchise, but loves beating up people and later on rapes Jean. He even murders Martin! I understand that Billy has to have some good reason for killing the young man; it's just that we are all over the board with our villains. Is it a statement about him valuing the life of an animal more than an Indian's? Who knows?
Eventually the situation, that Sheriff Cole failed to defuse, breaks down and people start getting hurt. Billy Jack avenges Martin's death and then holes up in an adobe fortress when the law arrives. Barbara is with him at first too, largely on account that her father was indiscriminately throwing lead at the pair (doing a much better job of fatherhood now, Mike!). Will the hero surrender to the white man's law? A law he has no reason to trust? Um, there are two more movies in the series and the next starts with "The Trial of." What do you think?
Kudos on some points, but the film quickly goes downhill around the middle. Even some explanations of the strange crossbreed religion the good guys subscribe to only succeeded in confusing me further. Just imagine a mix of Native American spiritualism with Flower Child ideals and adding a healthy dose of Christianity. Jean starts explaining about Jesus talking to a medicine man at one point while Billy Jack is preparing to become a "brother to the snake." The latter involves taunting a very large rattlesnake until it bites the heck out of you. Just in case you were wondering.
I agree with the general themes, but there were far too many songs sung by girls with long hair (straight of course) and guitars.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Wild horses and mountain goats are distant cousins. Key word being "distant."
- Hitting a woman in the face once will cause her to miscarry.
- Racial tension is easily fixed with a liberal application of bleached flour.
- The naked eye can discern facial features at a quarter mile.
- Interactive theater is great training for law enforcement officers.
- Corvettes do not float.
- Learning how to ride a horse while you are pregnant is not advised.
- When selecting a building (for your last stand) try to avoid ones made from mud and pine.
- 4 mins - Yelling loud enough to be understood over a herd of stampeding horses; now that's vocal power.
- 6 mins - "Hey Earl, did you hear the theme music change?"
- 20 mins - She really is playing that guitar...
- 22 mins - Notice how Jean's hair keeps changing; it just depends on what camera angle we are at.
- 27 mins - I'm confused. Is he holding the flour scoop at waist level or what?
- 47 mins - Somebody please stop this scene!
- 65 mins - A suitcase full of yogurt?
- 67 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A BRA!
- 74 mins - That is most certainly not Jean...
- 91 mins - Billy guessed that? Just off the top of his head? Is this man Sherlock Holmes reincarnated or something?
- 107 mins - So, you castrate him in your mind about twelve times (rounding up) every second?
- Angry Girl: "Damn your pacifism! I am not going to let that sick animal get away with this!"
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Posner: "We got the law here Billy Jack." |
Billy Jack: "When policemen break the law then there isn't any law. Just a fight for survival."
||Barbara: "In other words concerned father: I got balled by so many guys I don't know if the father's going to be white, Indian, Mexican, or black."
||A "rainbow, made of children?"
||Barbara: "What is the snake ceremony?" |
Jean: "The ceremony where Billy becomes a brother to the snake."
Barbara: "How does he do that?"
Jean: "By going on the mountain and being bitten by the snake, over and over."
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Here is the scene with Billy Jack surrounded by a crowd of Posner's goons. They are definitely going to put a hurting on him, but the warrior intends to met out some justice before that happens.
| ||Leave a comment||EXTRAS||Buy the movie|| |
Reply #33. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by BL
Personally, I liked the movie(s)...all of them. There was a message there...still is. For those who can't see that, I truly feel sorry for you. For those who can't see beyond what you term "bad acting & actors", and "plot", I suppose you've never seen movies like; "True Lies" or newer yet, "The Matrix". Those truly leave something to be desired...what, I don't know. Everyone's taste in movies differ as do opinions of each movie you see. Me, I like the more believable, that's my "taste" and my "opinion". Perhaps I should have made no comments at all concerning the Billy Jack movies...I just felt compelled to "defend" Tom and Delores in their efforts and commitment to bring a movie to the big screen on a shoe-string budget ($400,000.00), and believing in it so strongly that they mortgaged their home and belongings to do so, not with the help of a "hollywood" budget. That my friends, is believing in yourself and what you have to offer. Thank you Tom and Delores...you delivered a lot to many...to more than the handful who choose to down-play your efforts and movies in this "review". By the way Tom...notice how after over 30 years, YOUR movie(s) are still a controversial subject for many people...those who understand and those who don't!! Amazing. I wonder how much recognition will be made to Arnold and Keaneu after the next 30 years pass??
Reply #34. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by LADYWYVERN
For those of you who have chuckled and stated that BillyJack doesn't "look Indian"...I ask this: What does an Indian look like? You people are warped into life on the screen....he doesn't fit the Hollyweird image of an Indian...the image you think is sacrosanct!! So therefor he isn't an Indian! In reality, his blonde wife is part First Nations, he is not. She also, doesn't "look Indian" by Hollyweird standards.
The acting was amateur, the scenery beautiful, the music full of important thought provoking lyrics, the singing was like a junior high school glee club, but for all of the foibles, the message was clear. Sometimes it takes a two by four on the head to make a mule move.
The gimme kids of today, those who will shoot up a school if they've been picked on...could use a dose of the message in the BillyJack movies. Seems that the parents could too. When the youth of America had BillyJack as a cult hero...how many school kids came to class and murdered their classmates.........that only happened after the multitudes dismissed the heros of old and adopted the "I am entitled" attitude and ignored the "let's work together" lifestyle embraced by this and other movies of the times.
Just my opinion...
Reply #35. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by George
This review is great, hillarious.
I saw the original movie in a drive in, it should only be seen in a drive in.
My job was "bouncer" making exit entries and mean people go away.
BillyJack was so bad, so weird, the main female lead so ugly, it was treasured for satire,
amazingly it created a great deal of humor as best workable nonsense shamelessly bad movie of the era.
Again, Your review here is brilliant.
So I got one more laugh out of Billy Jack.
Thank You, but what do English majors use for allusion to bad film in college now?
Reply #36. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by sharkdog
Two topics-One that nobody has mentioned yet. Mr. tom introduced a marketing strategy that was used for years to make a lot of money with a third or forth rate film. It worked like this. You sell your movie to several theatersin an area. In a real small market it would probably be only one. You saturate the area with TV radio and print adds. Remember local adds arn't that expensive. This blitz style of advertising would result in long lines at the theaters for serveral days before word of mouth would have time to kill it. Then you move on to the next town and do it again. Your primary sourse of advertising money would come from the last gig. I think the public finally wised up to this ploy. Because I haven't seen it used in the last twenty years or so. But it was common for a long time. I understand that BJ was the first movie to be marketed that way. Thank Mr. tom. Second topic-An earlier writer asks about the song One Tin Solger. Iv'e read the lyrics to that song and they do not make any sence. You can not follow any logical progression in that song. It is just a series of platitudes strung together in no particuler order. Maybie Mr. tom wrote them.
Reply #37. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by son of godzilla
I saw this movie in the theaters when it first came out. Makes me feel old. Anyway. I didn't like this film because everybody is a victim. And they all play the self pity, I'm a victim role pretty well. Who's the bad guy? The white man!(racist,sexist) hating anyone and everyone who is in anyway different. You don't even need to look diffent for the white man to hate you. Somebody just needs to say you've got some Indian blood in you and POW! You too can be a victim. And what do all the victims do. They sit around and cry until some great hero comes along to save them. Somebody who's like them. Somebody not like the mean, racist, sexist white man. But it's just a movie and it made alot of money on a low budget.
Reply #38. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by HardPressed
Apropos of none of the above:
On a rural road near the tiny town of West College Corner, Indiana (I lived there briefly some 10 years ago), there was a place where the road went over a culvert and the shoulder on the right side of the road just disappeared. There was a old, rusted, yellow warning side as you approached it that read, "ONE THIN SHOULDER."
I swear I'm not making this up, but it looks preposterous now that I've written it down.
Perhaps the Union County Highway Department had an employee with a wicked way with puns. Anyway, every time I'd drive down that road, I'd roll down the window, stick my fist out, and sing "Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend!" at the top of my lungs.
Reply #39. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Randy
Billy Jack was a good idea for a cool character... too bad he had to be in these movies. Woulda made a better Rambo than Stallone. These movies totally suck, and BJ's girlfriend is butt ugly.
Reply #40. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Nathanial Meade
Can you actually believe their is a new generation of hippies? Jesus, no wonder people vote Republican. Parents, take my advice, let your children watch this movie, then ask them, "now what do you think about peace and love?"
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