|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 #49. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Ouisch
I saw "Billy Jack" during its original theatrical release and thought it was amazing and hip and cool. I was 14 at the time, and I don't remember how I managed to get into an R rated movie.
Hadn't seen it since, and recently the husband and I were out shopping and found "BJ" in the bargain bin. I raved about it, told him how cool it was, so we dropped $4.99 and bought it. Mind you, my husband is eight years younger than me, so he missed out on a lot of the peace/love thang of the 1970s. Anyway, we watched "BJ" and even I had to laugh. "I guess this movie isn't as timeless as I thought," I said as one embarrassing scene after another unfolded. I mean, sheesh, Freedom School? Some of those "students" were obviously in their 30s and balding. And what does one do with a diploma from the Freedom School? Can you see yourself at a job interview..."no, I have no computer skills, but I get high on creating things...."
Reply #50. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Mike Newton
Obviously, many of the people who have seen this movie under-appreciate the Jungian neo-Classicism of the underlying mythos. Plato's Myth of the Cave would not be an unrealistic metaphor to apply to this majestic film. Billy, as Socrates, aids us in our understanding of life above the cave. . a life beyond shadow. The town represents Hobbes idea of life as "Brutish, Nasty, and Short." Billy--and Jean--lead us to a path of enlightened thought. This film should be a must-see for anyone interested in what heights the human species is capable reaching.
Reply #51. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Lance Del Goebel
I was born in 1961. I am German, Irish, Cherokee, Lakota, Cheyenne ( white skin ). This was the first movie I saw where Native Americans were shown as humans....and where the greed and selfishness of whites was highlighted for contrast with Native American environmentalism and spirituality.
Billy Jack was my hero...and the lines about there being no law, just a fight for survival when policemen break the law AND that we don't put the controls on our guns that we put on our cars and pets...are still valid, significant statements.
I think the people ripping Billy Jack on this site probably watch Fox "News" and actually believe they are watching news. They only accept what fits nicely in their narrow, agenda. This skin allows me to live among white people, and I'm here to tell you...Billy Jack portrayed white folks PERFECTLY....a race with a long history of almost no spirituality or morals of any kind ....and that, in my opinion, is why most on this site don't care for the film. I think Billy Jack was a great message movie.
The film is totally honest...and real honesty among white people is a rare happening, long since replaced by greed and hating in the name of Jesus.
Because of the message, the movie is timeless
Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Trevor
Hi, great site. This film was banned in South Africa (along with "Born Losers" and "The Trial of Billy Jack"). We really had the most wonderful :( censorship system in the world!
Reply #53. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by ijostl
Billy Jack was and is a great movie. For those that despised the "hippy" era of love, creative living and foresight, you despise yourself for your own life's failures and like the beef-witted miscreant that you are, you broadcast your self-hate across the Internet. Never fooling anyone but other cow-people who also loathe themselves, verily it is so.
I AM A RED MAN
Reply #54. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by Teri
I too thought this movie was SO cool when I saw it, I was only 10 years old. I watched it again bout 5 years ago & the stupidity, cheesiness, bad acting, directing, everything about it made me cringe. Which makes me believe that if this movie really only appealed to an average 10 year old, HOW did it ever get released at all. The Trial was, if possible, even worse.
Oh, BTW, people that want to internalize rants about this God-awful movie into a personal racist attack should hurry to their nearest Jungian psychotherapist to be cured immediately of their insight-lacking, paranoid proselytzing. Now LAUGH already!!
Reply #55. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Joseph Ulibas
Billy Jack is the man. They should have focused more on his kicking heads in insyead of the lame Freedom School sub-plot.
Oh well, we'll always have Born Losers to fall back on (Tom Laughlin's white-exploitation/Biker opus). Now that's a movie for true Billy Jack fans. Nothing but bbone crunching fights, hardcore characters, snappy dialogue and sleaze bby the truck load. He really went over board when he made Trial of Billy
Jack. A movie that's nothing more than a celluloid self-pleasuring act. Three hours long!!!
Reply #56. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by GeorgeBaby
Sure the movie sucks, but it has that mysterious thing that makes us talk about it, way more than "Yentl" or "Bugsy Malone". I just like looking at it, the park and the signs and the goddamn hippies.
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