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715290 Posts in 53130 Topics by 7756 Members
Latest Member: Anthonynolla Forum  |  Information Exchange  |  Reader Comments  |  Billy Jack « previous next »
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Author Topic: Billy Jack  (Read 233952 times)
« on: August 23, 2001, 09:10:24 AM »

lets just say that the movie has not stood the test of time. or as BJ would say (deadpan in a monotone) the wind mumble mumble trees mumble mumble indian spirts mumble mumble nature mumble mumble white devils mumble mumble healing ..and so on for a few more minutes.
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM »

I saw Billy Jack when I was 12 years old--it was back to back with 'The Wild Bunch'. We sat thru both movies twice in one afternoon. Billy Jack was the coolest thing to hit the screen.  I had a poster of him in my bedroom--right next to my David Cassidy poster. The next day it seemed like David and Billy were replaced with Alice Cooper and Queen (I'm telling my age.)  What a great time and great memories.  C'mon guys--it's classic entertainment from another time--the Wonder Years.  
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM »

You know a movie's really bad when you smoke the rough equivalent of British Columbia's yearly cannibis output before watching it and you're still saying, "Oh, GOD, this sucks!"  Not that I would know from personal experience, mind you.  And I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought Steven Seagal was channeling this movie big time!
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM »

Disliking a movie is hardly the grounds for being a "racist."  How in the heck do you come up with the idea that "us guys" are racist a**holes?  Look, just because you have issues is no reason to throw an emotional tantrum.  And it is a tantrum.

None of us discount the fact that Billy Jack might well have a Native American heritage.  What was pointed out is that, at least for myself and <U>every other person I have ever asked</U>, we cannot figure out how every racist in town sees him and immediately thinks "Indian."

Correction of fact:  The two FBI agents were killed at Pine Ridge in 1975.  The events that led to that (and the killing of many activists besides) is an ugly story.  I would hope most of the parties involved are not proud of what transpired, though the end result does appear just.

"Billy Jack" dealt with the struggles of a soldier coming back from Vietnam about the same amount as "Snow White" did.  The story deals with racism and social bigotry.  If you are looking for Billy Jack to talk about Vietnam then watch "Born Losers."  By the way, in that film the antagonist element is a motorcycle gang.

At no point can I find ANY hint of racism in either my review or the reader comments.  One would hope you noticed that I pointed out Sheriff Cole's inaction was the main reason the situation developed into people shooting each other. In fact, the review agrees with most of what Tom Laughlin was trying to say - it is the movie's execution that didn't work for me.
Al Carroll
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM »

Here's part of a paper I'm writing on depictions of Native veterans in fiction. Let me know what you think people.

OH, BTW, I think it likely that those two "Indians" who made comments earlier on were white New Agers. "Playing Indian" is pretty common, and Billy Jack was one of the most popular examples of that. So I wouldn't worry about what they think. Most Indians CANT STAND Billy Jack.


New Age Follies: Billy Jack and Star Trek: Voyager

   John Pope AKA “Rolling Thunder” was a retired white railroad worker who spent the latter part of his life posing as an “intertribal medicine man.” Pope claimed he was part Cherokee and that was allegedly teaching Seneca beliefs. This he did, not among either the Cherokee or Seneca, but almost entirely among the white hippie counterculture. Pope proselytized among hippies for the remainder of his life, telling them they were “Thunderpeople” who would change the world. According to Pope’s own family, his former followers have mercilessly exploited Pope’s name for money beyond all bounds of decency, creating a number of New Age cults in the process.
   Pope played a central role in Billy Jack. The movie was very loosely based on what Pope claimed had happened in his own life, and Pope briefly appeared in the films as "Thunder Mountain." Where Pope claimed to have taken part in the Yaqui Wars in Mexico (the last Yaqui War ended in 1928, when he would have been from six to ten years old), Billy Jack was remade into a Vietnam veteran and ex-Green Beret. Where Pope claimed to be a part-Cherokee “intertribal medicine man” who taught allegedly Seneca beliefs to white hippies, Billy Jack was an “Indian half-breed” and medicine man-in-training of an unnamed Indian tribe who was taught by a young blonde white woman in the films what Indian beliefs “truly” were. Pope’s own beliefs were rather eccentric, to put it mildly. He claimed Cherokees came from Atlantis and that they once had technology far superior to anything in modern times. The “Indian” beliefs (again, no tribe is ever specified) in Billy Jack are a bizarre amalgam of hippie platitudes about pacifism and Christian fundamentalist Holy Roller snake handling.
   Pope and the film’s author, director, and star Tom Laughlin were a perfect match for each other. Laughlin fancied himself a great spiritual thinker, and even today sells seminars in spirituality. Laughlin claims that his movie was preordained by what he believes were Indian prophecies and other supernatural events. (In less dramatic terms, he saw owls near the movie set.) Laughlin and Pope shared an apocalyptic and paranoid worldview. Laughlin attributed the spectacular failure of his two sequels to Billy Jack to nothing less than a conspiracy by “The Man,” the federal government. But what made the first one a success was its blatant attempt to capitalize on both martial arts and blaxploitation films like Shaft by giving the public a pseudo-Indian version of them, one played by a white eccentric and based on the life of a white imposter. In all likelihood, the later films flopped because of their preachiness, failure to include martial arts, and Native protests against the films.
   Billy Jack’s status as a veteran tells us nothing about what Native veterans went through. Billy Jack (both the character and the film overall) pose as both Native and a veteran as merely convenient tropes for the film’s author and audience to invent a fantasy (often quite bizarre at that) of what they wish Indians were like, one which bears no reality at all to actual Native beliefs, cultures, or history. Billy Jack is easily one of the absolute worst films ever made about Natives, and quite possibly one of the worst films ever made. It fails on virtually every level, from its aesthetic to its technical aspects (see if you do not laugh when you see a smaller and darker Asian man clumsily inserted as the stunt double for Laughlin in martial arts scenes) to its utter lack of social responsibility towards Native sensibilities. Too offensive to even be camp, at best the film is a revealing look at the extremes a white filmmaker will go to in order to misrepresent Native cultures. It also is quite revealing of some truly troubling mindsets among some whites and the counterculture. Who would have expected allegedly peace-loving hippies and New Age people to wallow in as much gratuitous violence as there is in Billy Jack?
David Fullam
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2001, 03:35:43 PM »

Reportedly, Master Bang Soo Hahn (Kentucky Fried Movie and Force Five) doubled for Laughlin in the fight scenes.
Dr. Freex
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM »

You mean.... Billy Jack WASN'T an Indian?

I... I feel so disillusioned...
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2001, 05:04:56 AM »

This movie epitomised everything I despised about the whole 60s/70s hippy era. To be fair though I should point out I also thought Easy Rider had a happy ending
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM »

I thought that Billy Jack's character was supposed to be HALF-INDIAN, which would explain why he looks caucasian. Though it's been a long time since I've watched the movie. (And it might have been in the previous BJ movie, "Born Losers", where Billy Jack's background was explained.)
Ken Begg
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM »

This film is also important because it's the movie Steven Seagal continually tried to replicate during the short period where he had content control over his movies (roughly from On Deadly Ground to The Patriot).  This fact explains why the period where he had content control over his movies was short.

In fact, the central scene of BJ, with the Indian girl having flour poured on her to make her 'white,' was ripped-off directly in On Deadly Ground, only with an Eskimo and some beer.

And Andrew, how could you *not* mention One Tin Soldier?!  Dude!!

« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM »

Boy, does this review bring back memories.... Billy Jack played in my hometown for over a year to sold out shows, and everyone there was outraged that Tom L. was not nominated for any Academy Awards for the various hats he wore in the making of this "classic".  I personally saw this mess in the theater and at a drive-in, as well as on TV; it never made much sense to me then, and it makes less sense to me now.

BTW: Mad Magazine had a DEAD ON parody of this in an issue long ago - I think they called it Billy Jerk.  That feature made more sense than the movie.  

BTW II:  Gee, Ken, Thanks for mentioning "One Tin Soldier"; it took me ten years to get that damn song out of my head, and now its back with a vengence!!!!  AAAIIIEEE!!!!
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM »

As bad as this slimy buttchunk is, it does not hold a candle to the sequel Andrew mentioned, "The Trial of Billy Jack," which might provoke you to tear off your own arm in "a fit of pique." (See it and you'll understand.) Self-worshipping monstrosity Laughlin made another one--"Billy Jack Goes To Washington"--which was simply unavailable for ages until recently, and with good reason. The creep threatened to make "Billy Jack IV" a few years ago--in which BJ would have wiped out a schoolful of child-molesting teachers (!!!)--but it never came to be. And that is how I know there is a God.

" tin soldier rides awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay"
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM »

I take it back. There is no God.

"Learn how you can invest in a brand-new Billy Jack film! Jungian Psychology! Proof that movies cause violence!"

...and streaming video of Laughin begging for your money.
manny two dogs
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM »

for those of us who live in prescot where the movie was shot, the best part is seeing how nice downtown looked before all those gottdamn tourist and california starfish [starfish=a***ole] moved in and turned the town into a small phoenix.
as for the freedom school, we got one it's called prescott college and they pump out park ranger types, so most of the coffie houses are town are full of neo-hippies. God save us all.
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM »

Billy Jack...definetly one of the best movies ever made!!  I mean...any time the guy takes his boots of to fight is incredible!!!  This movie had some of the best quotes ever!!
Billy Jack...the ex-green beret with a bad temper, is definetly one of the greatest fighters ever put onto film!!
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