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Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 05/19/2009 Run time: 114 minutes Rating: Pg
This time-capsule film from 1971 is a perfect example of having one's cake and eating it, too. Written and directed by filmmaker Tom Laughlin--and starring him in the title role--Billy Jack concerns a half-white, half-Indian karate expert who protects a free school built on principles of pacifism by kicking hell out of pesky rednecks. The story actually embraces that tension between Billy Jack's way of doing things and that of the school's founder (Delores Taylor), but their tension doesn't so much lead to an examination of principles as it leads to an excuse for Laughlin to incorporate fight scenes between hippie politics. Crude and brutal, the film is pretty exploitative of a viewer's torn sympathies, and in that way Billy Jack actually anticipates much of the simple-minded, violent fare that followed in the movies of the '70s and '80s. --Tom Keogh
- I'm gonna take this right foot and I'm gonna wop you on that side of your face
Loved this movie when I was a kid, love it now. Billy Jack is a true hero in every sense of the word.
Tom Laughlin rules....more info
- Great movie but still in standard Full Frame!!!
I hate to gripe but Warner Bros. is releasing again "Billy Jack" in Standard 1.33 full frame! Lots of people now have 16.9 widescreen tv's and would like a 1.85 widescreen version,the original ratio of the movie,Ventura had this in widescreen(with a beautiful transfer,5.1 sound as well as original mono and 2 commentaries!) as part of the now out of print "Ultimate Billy Jack Collection" (I have 2 copies/1 opened and 1 sealed!) The transfer that Warner used for the 1999 tranfer will obviously the same one used here,the same mono soundtrack,just new packing,no snapper case. It's also coming out on Blu Ray,I hope thats widescereen! Like the cover art though!...more info
- Exploiting the Culture War
This film opens with a police car driving out of town. Sheriff Cole gets a message from the most powerful man in town. Riders are rounding up wild mustangs to harvest for dog food. [Mustangs eat the scarce fodder needed by cattle.] Mr. Posner wants his son to fire the first shot, but he refuses. [This is done for effect, Bernard's true character is shown later.] Billy Jack rides up to order them off the Indian Reservation. The wild horses are released to freedom. [Symbolism?] A Deputy Sheriff has a runaway daughter who is returned from Haight-Ashbury with an abscessed tooth, hepatitis, and pregnancy. [Lack of a mother's care?] The "school" at the Reservation is different, there are three rules. [Do the inmates run this asylum?] Are they getting the education and experience to prepare them for their future in Civilization? What will happen to them in twenty years?
Are there too many stereotyped or cartoon characters? Bernard Posner says hello but is rebuffed. There is a needless conflict in the ice cream parlor. Billy Jack really tries to stay calm. There is a confrontation in the town square. The Sheriff breaks it up. There is a search for the missing runaway Barbara. "Those damned kids won't listen." [Their education from television?] The town council wants to ban the students from the reservation from coming into town. [A loss of business?] An eleven-year old girl reads a speech: who said that? [Who put that idea into her mind?] Is this another conflict between generations or cultures? [Does this scene run on too long?] The town people visit the school to watch their skits. Are they still funny? Tedious? Do Stone-Age customs have any relevance to the Atomic Age? Its just acts for entertainment, speeches that sound pretentious.
Back in town some seem to walk into a trap. [Note the familiarity with guns.] Does the story go downhill from here? Is that play-acting credible? Or just padding to fill out the film? Billy Jack shows up to rescue a maiden from the danger she put herself into. [After the opening scene, why would he reward his son?] "I really wish you would." Did that new car need a wash? Will Bernard and his buddy commit a felony? [Another deliberately shocking scene?] One student is kidnapped as a hostage. Will he escape? An ambulance is summoned.
The Sheriff has search warrants to find runaway Barbara. Mike shoots at Billy Jack, who returns one shot. [More shocking scenes?] There is a final stand-off with dramatic shooting. [Like some old western film.] Can Billy Jack get a fair trial because the whole world is watching? "That's a bunch of crap!" A deal is made so Billy Jack surrenders. [The movie wouldn't work without this.] What happens next?
The "National Student Film Corporation" is listed as the producer. Who exactly is that? What happened to the actors later? The dramatic scenes that shocked the audience resulted in its success. The political issues are shown as facts that are not resolved. Will the townspeople still dislike the students? [Yes, but things will change with time.] While still dramatic, this film seems quite dated today.
- Billy Jack still kicks *ss 35 years later
The DVD of Billy Jack played great and was pretty much as I remembered it to be. It also brought back alot memories from my high school years and is interesting to see how things were in the 1970s, definately more simple times. It's far from the greatest movie ever made, but is a nice nostalgic walk in the past. The town square fight scene is worth the price of admission alone....more info
- Great Condition!!!
"Billy Jack" inspired my husband to take martial arts back in the 70's (he's a 6th degree black belt), so I really wanted to give him this movie for Christmas. He had not seen the movie since the 1970's! It is now out of print and I couldn't find it anyway until I came here. When I received it, the movie was in great condition, the packaging looked new, and it was his favorite present. We watched it together on Christmas day (my first time seeing it) and it's a pretty good movie!...more info
- Preachy Hypocritical New Age Nonsense Pretending 2 be Indian
Now I remember why so many of my parents friends protested against this movie when it came out. They were proud of the role they played in making sure the second Bill Jack movie bombed. Most Indians then and now can't stand this racist movie.
1)It's insulting in the way it recasts Indians to fit new and Age and hippie fantasies of what they WISH we were like.
2)It's downright ignorant in its view of Indian religions. Worse yet, you have a preachy blond white woman pretending to teach an Indian character his own religion. (Actually, what they show as Indian religion is Southern Holy Roller Snake Charming-yes, it really is THAT ridiculous.)
3)Yes, believe it or not, they have a WHITE guy playing an Indian. Tom Laughlin thinks all he ahs to do to "pass" as Indian is squint and wear a feather in his cap. Sorry Tom, didn't work for yankee doodle, won't work for you. White guys playing Indians on film IS racism. The whole let's-love-everyone bit comes off as phony and hypocritical.
4)And let's not forget this movie was based on the (alleged) life of a New Age leader who impersonated being an Indian medicine man. John "Rolling Thunder" Pope's lies were as ridiculous in this film as anywhere else.
Like another reviewer said, I'm just sorry this rating system won't let me give it ZERO stars.
One of the WORST movies allegedly about Indians ever made!...more info
- The sum of the 60's for some?And A Confused Time Capsule!
I saw this movie 30 years ago in the movies on the big screen, before multi-plex theatres. It seemed larger than life and obviously righteous. Now, as a mature man, I question the whole idea of a "Billy Jack" as a hero, anti-hero or anything. He seems self-destructive in retrospect to the point that the events of the movie could never have happened in the first place. Having said that, while I enjoyed the movie from an entertainment standpoint, I knew the movie suffered from many structural flaws, not the least of which was the lack of an ominous villian. No Darth Vador or Liberty Valence here. Instead, a father and son who illegally shoot horses in the Indian Reservation that Billy Jack policed, for dog food [.06 lb]and an abusive father who happens to be a Deputy Sheriff [Kenneth Toby]who is a minion of Mr. Horsemeat, with a pregnant 15 year old daughter that Billy Jack has given refuge to will have to surfice. Just think of how many action features fail because of a weak villain lacking in pathos. Anyone recall the "Return of the Seven"? Lorca was the villain and who cares?
I did say I liked this movie and I did and I still do, but while I applauded the characters for their principles and the courage of their convictions 30 years ago, today I see it as a confused but entertaining time capsule that summed up the 1960s in its own way. Today I enjoy the movie more for its spectacle value than its ideology, but I do recall that I believed in some of what I saw when it was first released though what exactly that might be would be a guess at this point. It was fun telling my wife who is 15 years my Junior that,"before their was Dirty Harry or Steven Seagal there was "Billy Jack" to which she just nodded with the same confused look I must have felt when I watched the film again after 30 years. I was wondering now if 6 cents a pound was enough money to be an incentive to hunt, catch and process wild stallions into dog food? Rated PG, I was surprised that frontal nudity and a couple of other graphic scenes were included but it is still 3 STARS, certainly worth watching, but once should do it for most....more info
- simply awful
Sometimes a movie is so bad that it's unintentionally funny. However, that doesn't seem to work with "Billy Jack" because so many people seem take it seriously. I know. I saw it when it came out and I remember many people I knew who thought it was a fantastic movie. I have forgiven them and have moved on with my life. Still, the movie comes to mind from time to time as an example of leftist hypocrisy.
The main problem I have with the movie is its' stereo-typic generalities. I realize that this could be a condemnation of 95% of movies ever made but, in this particular case, I figured that the creators would rise above it. Yet here we have a rural Southwestern town of moderate size with all the "bad guys" of the 60's and early 70's. We have the rich man who runs everything, the law enforcement officer who seems to take more orders from the rich man than from his own superior, the redneck rowdies who attack hippies on signal, the spoiled rich kid who could have been "real" but failed to take the right turn, the yes men who all kiss up to the rich man, etc. etc. etc. Then we have the good guys at the "school". This motley crew of misfits is really too much to believe. They are "students" at this school where the only thing that seems to be taught is creativity. Creativity is nice but not as a sole source of learning. Anyhow these hippies seem to always get beat up, harassed or humiliated whenever they go into town. That's where Billy Jack comes in. The kids never stand up for themselves and, frankly, the way the characters are laid out, they'd probably only get beaten up worse if they did. But Billy Jack, a "half-breed" former Viet Nam veteran generally comes to the rescue and kicks some major butt. He's sweet on the "school" director and she is sweet on him. Lots of things happen during the movie. They are designed to make us hate the "establishment" and love the hippies. For example, the movie opens with the bad rich rancher and his followers rounding up wild horses into a corral. They all are ready to shoot these penned-in animals until Billy Jack makes his first appearance and faces down all of these armed men. The horses are freed and the rednecks are mad and it just gets worse from that point on. The rich man's son rapes the "school" director (I hope I'm not giving too much away here) and the force of good (Billy Jack) meets the forces of evil (just about everybody else not associated with the school). Guess who wins.
The main objection that I have with this movie is that is disguises violence in a pacifist coating. The same people who would ridicule John Wayne movies as pointless violence seemed to regale the karate beatings delivered by Billy Jack. He was fighting FOR us so whatever he did was OK. I heard plenty of that from my fellow college students at the time the movie came out. The stereo-typing of really bad versus really innocent bothered me as well. We have few people who fit into any sort of middle ground. There's the Sherrif and a few townspeople and that's about it. The "students" seem to be orphans who were abused by society or their own families and have found a haven (read heaven) at this "school". This whole "school" concept is a make-believe extremity of some of the farther-out thought processes at work in those days. Viewed today, I assume that the concept becomes more laughable than it was 30 years ago. Finally, it seems that the whole concept was a self-created "star vehicle" for the creators of the movie. That's not the only time such things have happened (try watching "Good Will Hunting"). However, the whole scope of the work of Tom Mclaughlin and his wife seem to all center around this one character. I've never seen any of his other movies. I don't have to; the titles tell me what I already suspected. If I were to have to come up with one good thing to say about the movie (and if I were a student at the "school", I'm sure that could be my assignment), it would be the very good work of a comedy troupe whose professional name escapes me. You'll recognize Howard Hessman as a part of that group in one of his earliest roles.
Well, thanks for listening. After all these years it feels good to get this off my chest....more info
- Campy But Not Worth Contempt
That any one would feel "pity" for someone who bought the movie for themselves or "contempt" for someone who bought it as a gift seems an "overipe" response. It's a movie. It's an outdated 70's flick that was hugely popular at the time and despite its antiquated sentiments, advocates some simple values that, even in a cheaply made and corny film, are not to be despised. Ideals presented like pacifism, Native American spiritualism and pride, freedom of expression, and animal activism stand in preachy contrast to depictions of racism, bigotry, and violence. But just because they're presented in goofy hippy slang and beads or in a cheaply made film, doesn't mean such ideals and condemnations are not worth advocating. The conflict between Billy Jack's violence and Jean's pacifism goes a lot deeper than just demonstrating Loughlin's martial arts skill. I think the film's also an amusing peak back into an era. IT's not for nothing the film was popular. I think a lot of young people during that period believed in the ideals the film pushes. My students view it and get a huge kick over the preachy messages, corny songs, "don't hassle me man" slang, not to mention the obvious and crudely [done] fight scenes. All in all, certainly not a film to be offended by, and certainly not a film to get worked-up over. Those who take offense to its depicition of violence are most likely still living in 1971....more info
- Worst Movie Ever!
To movie lovers everywhere, I apologize for giving Billy Jack one star -- zero stars was not an option on the review form. This cheaply made flick gets my vote for the all-time worst! A Native-American tribal cop, skilled in martial arts, goes around beating the crud out of people -- even killing. Why? Because he believes in peace! Supposedly, he's defending people against local bigots -- no problem there. But instead, he focuses on defending a liberal school's touchy-feely values. This goofball school makes the best argument yet against the voucher system. Why study math when we can all take mime lessons in order to express ourselves better? I believe in diversity, but here it's used more as a superficial plot device than in any meaningful way. (I use the word "plot" VERY loosely.) Eerily, one suspects that "schools" such as this thrive in places like Boulder and Sedona. The female lead -- Laughlin's homely, off-screen wife -- can't act and looks 20 years older than the star. OK, I know it shouldn't matter that she's ugly, but the point is that she and Laughlin are poorly matched on-screen. The moronic ending features Billy Jack being led away by the police between lines of zit-faced teenyboppers -- fists raised in the archaic "power" symbol -- while the over-ripe song "One Tin Soldier" plays in the background. Moral: 13-year-old girls are wiser than the rest of us, and violence is OK, as long as you support a liberal political and educational agenda. I have only pity for people who enjoy this movie and only contempt for those who give it as a gift. Peace, man....more info
- respect of all people
I saw this movie in the 70s and felt it taught us values.
That people need to be judged by who they are and what they do not by color.Today I see the same amount of dis respect given to to native americans. What we still are doing to make them less then us.they have many problems yet they were who where in this town long before any of us. They have so much to offer us in their rich past history if we only would listen.
I see no colors even if I am considered white our blood is red people all have good/not so good in them if we teach violence then expect it to be all around you.Then we ask why.
But at times if you do not stand up for what you beleive is right,we are judged as weak. you can't be bullied it is a fine line.
Even today this movie had good values to live by in the year 2001,the future is in the hands of the kids so we must teach our children love and respect. this movie has it all even a good laugh when my 19 year old son watched they part they talking about the new corvette that Billy Jack had driven into the lake it was $6000 new car, boy that dated the film and made my son get a good laugh out of this hippie film as he called it.
But he watched it more than once here at home so it is a good one for all ages...more info
- Defender of the Pacifists
This movie directed by TC Frank (I have always wondered if TC Frank is really Tom Laughlin), is really a movie spearheaded by Tom Laughlin and his wife Delores Taylor, who both star and distribute the movie. This movie is ambitious. It deals with the 60's-70's movements of anti-war, progressive education, and "flower power."
As a kid, I liked the movie because Billy Jack was a one man maverick, who stood for justice and bucked up against a corrput system. As an adult, it remains the same. Only, as an adult, it is much harder to watch the sappy and often long sequences of overly preachy liberal sentimentalism. At times the points are well made and at other times it is down right silly. The court room scene is an example of an overly long shot that could have been scaled way down.
The movie does well when Billy is the central character. The witty and well carfted dialogue suits this person well. Tom Laughlin is believable as Billy Jack and his personna is a perfect fit. The fight in the court yard square is entertaining and somewhat realistic - rare in the movies. The best of the four movies in the series....more info
- Billy jack is ambitious but limited
Following in the wake of Easy Rider and other movies of the same genre, Billy Jack seeks to leap head first into the turbulence of the early 1970's. It's themes of pacificism, open education, and Native American liberation make it a rather intriguing period piece . And while much of the work is marred by gratuitous violence and melodrama, the plight of disaffected minorities is showcased with a raw, unabashed energy. Like a kick to the head, the movie challenges its audience to consider the chaos of the early 70's and the end of American innocence. The protests and the killing of wild horses are clumsy at times but also deliver a feeling of authenticity--since real life is never choreographed. This was a time when All in the Family and Good Times were daring to make TV audiences feel uneasy. This was a time when TV's Marcus Welby was discussing impotence and sexually transmitted diseases. In short, Billy Jack is a thread in the tapestry of protest that was being felt all over America. Its influence and lasting relevance transcend its weak cinematic acting and direction. This is not great cinema or quality acting but there is a lot of viscera spilling forth in this film and it shouild be watched with other pieces that capture the disillusionment of the time....more info
- Billy Jack - A Good Movie, and that's a fact!!
Billy Jack is an excellent blend of martial arts action, racial intolerance, and the counterculture movement of the late sixties....more info
- I forgot how lame the sixties were
I saw this movie for the first time in a drive-in theater during the mid-seventies, and remembered how much I loved it. Seeing it again convinced me that my teenage world was quite narrow - this movie is so sappy, it's pathetic. At first, I thought my reaction was unfair, until my kids (ages 10 and 8) started laughing at the movie's best parts! (Yes, I skipped over some scenes while they were in the room). Although most guys agree that the line about "this boot" and "your face" is the ultimate tough-guy threat, the movie definitely reminds me of how confrontational everything seemed to be back then....more info
- Phony Pandering Hippie Drivel
Like many children of the 70's, I was fascinated by this yarn in the day. I saw it several times and dutifully saw "Born Losers" ( a exploitation re-release that features Billy Jack's character, and a far better film) as well as "The Trial of Billy Jack" (the third installment and even worse than this outing). Years later, it's enlightening to realize what we have outgrown from our youth. The acting, directing and production is pretty awful, but forgivable. The ideology spouted in this stinker is a fast food bastardization of the worst "hold hands and sing together" hippie trash.
Tom Laughlin plays the title role of former Green Beret and reclusive "half-breed" ( their words) protector of a southwestern "Freedom School" where love interest/head schoolmarm Jean (Delores Taylor) and her doltish charges harbor runaways,perform dreadful improv and guerilla theatre and generally get under the skin of redneck cowboy law enforcement in their town.
When Jean protects the runaway daughter of local lawman, tension come to a head and Billy Jack must step away from the pacifism he and Jean cherish and lay gratuitous Kung Fu beatdowns on local bullies.For martial arts fans, the payoff are far and few, if you enjoy rape scenes ( and I sure hope you do NOT!) there are a couple of man-with-knife-doing-bad-things-to-women scenes that appear as salacious panders to this element.
If watching the Freedom School kids travel around like a Marxist Partidge Family in their stupid hippie bus doesn't make you dread Flower Child nostalgia, you will surely be disgusted by the use of violence to market non-violence, the lecturing moral high ground tone of the films message and the all around insipid style of this useless atrifact.
(NOTE* all martial arts in the film are performed by Laughlins stand-in, the great Master Bong Soo Han, and if you look closely you'll notice a distinct physical disimilarity between Laughlin and the man doing great roundhouse kicks)...more info
- Liberal Camp
A silly 70s propaganda film in the vein of Reefer Madness and The Eternal Jew! As a matter of fact, let's just call it Liberal Madness, because that's about all it is. I still have to give it a reasonably good star value because it is so entertaining.
Billy Jack is a Native American vigilante who's only occupation is being the deus-ex-machina character in the little scuffles that a local hippy commune continually gets themselves into. The head of the commune is a homely spinster schoolmarm. Actually homely isn't strong enough, there probably isn't a word strong enough to describe her, so let's just say she looks like her face was carved out of wood with a butter knife.
To fully understand this movie there are some certain rules, laws of the Billy Jack universe you have to understand. The most important rule is that all white people not of Native American descent are pure evil, redneck, axx-holes that have nothing better to do then attack hippies and Native Americans. While Native Americans, and hippies in general, are loving pacifists that merely want to do their own thing.
That's basically the meat of this story, Hippies annoy rednecks, rednecks annoy the hippies back only they do a better job, and Billy Jack comes riding in on a white steed to save the day. The real joy of this movie is watching how crazy the leftist hippies are. All they do is perform weird skits, do drugs, and sing horrible off key sing-a-longs.
Occasionally they go "into town" where they act weird and annoy the normal people until they can't take it anymore. Then the normals do something harmless like dump flour on them to try to coerce them to leave, and what happens? Billy Jack sticks his big nose into things and beats the crap out of them. Then the pacifist hippies cheer because it's ok that someone else used violence just as long as their hands are still clean.
Even though Jesus was a pacifist, the most important pacifist ever actually, the hippies don't mind mocking him in one scene where they are preparing to do a skit about a pregnant girl. "How about the world is really fxxxed up and needs a savior...but this will be a modern one; it doesn't have to be like the old kind...Jesus."
Finally the residents of the town cannot take the hippies causing them trouble all the time and they call a town meeting. This is where things really get funny. Of course if you take this movie too seriously you could become outraged at just how immature and stupid the hippies act, but I assure you, for me it's all laughs. There's actually a lot to be learned here though, as the libs to this day use a lot of these same plays and tactics. For example, when a rude hippy gives a fake name, "OK Coralis" and is chided he responds, "That is my real name! What do you have something against Mexicans? I don't see any on the board!" There's also the classic "famous quote shtick" where you take a patriotic quote out of context and ask who said it, surprise, it's Adolf Hitler or some other dictator.
The ruthless and completely irreverent hippies make more and more noise and personal attacks about the town council showing complete disregard and lack of respect, even though the council is trying their best to listen to them and answer their questions the hippies only grow increasingly hateful and angry. So much for pacifism.
Yadda Yadda Yadda, the tension between the hippies and the normals escalates and a war breaks out, with Billy Jack once again fighting their battles for them.
The acting in this movie is beyond amateurish, it is obvious that a lot of it is just made up on the spot, or read from a cue-card as their lines come off so stiff and emotionless that it is obvious that we are watching the first take of every scene, no need to waste film after all.
The lefties haven't really updated their playbook after all these years so there's a lot to learn from this little time capsule. Pair this up with the complete fools the lefties make themselves look like and you've got a fun campy classic. ...more info
- Billy Jack as good today as it was years ago
I love this movie as much today as I did seeing it growing up. Ok the fact that Tom isn't hard on the eyes is one thing but I love the story line.
I love watching him kick the crap out of the bad guys! Ok give it a break it's an old movie and the quality is that of that time era...which I would give anything to go back to. The music is good. Coven's version of One Tin Soldier is amazing. The kids in the school ...love it! Love those rebel stand up for what you believe in songs!
Give me these good old movies over the garbage of today anytime!...more info
- Peace Through Violence
This is the second of the Billy Jack Series.
It is a few years later (than BORN LOSERS) and Billy Jack is now living on an Indian reservation in Arizona. On the same reservation, there is an experimental school that is short on rules, long on the counter-culture and even longer on hacking off the officials of the local town.
Billy Jack acts as sort of an unofficial protector for the school. He makes a strange compatriot for the head of the school. She is a pacifist who will endure practically anything, including rape, to keep from using violence. Billy Jack, on the other hand, is a former green beret and doesn't hesitate to use violence when necessary.
Tensions build between the school and the town and things come to a head when the runaway daughter of a corrupt deputy sheriff funs off to the school. The deputy wants her back and is willing to do anything to get her, including frame and/or kill innocent people. While Billy tries to protect and, occasionally, avenge, he becomes the target of officialdom and a fugitive.
This story is no more complex than that of the first movie. Neither is it any better acted. Even so, there is something compelling about it.
- An enigma wrapped in a tortilla, smothered in bean dip...
There's something touching about this film until you really begin to dissect it. Finally, the dichotomy becomes evident: peace-loving hippies and Indians against the 'establishment'. This film managed to enjoin revolution-based politics with brain-baked standards and really took the entertainment value out of movie-going. This looks like a direct antithesis to "The Green Berets" and remains a symbolic statement that forged a trend in Hollywood. The only things missing were the SDS, the Weather Underground, and the Black Panthers. At a time when the Barrow/Parker gang and Butch Cassidy and the Hole-in-the-Wall gang were being glorified in sweeping cinematic grandeur - just short of a musical - it's no wonder that Billy Jack was standing in the wings. If you really want to get depressed, check out the sequels... ...more info
- Just awful
This self righteous propaganda reel masquerading as an action film would be downright offensive if it weren't so howlingly, hilariously inept. The Amazon reviewer who characterizes Billy Jack as someone who 'beats up people who oppose peace' was spot on. That should give you a pretty good idea of the overall quality of the plot.
Funny aside: At about 40 minutes in, the kids protest the search warrant of the school by joining in a singalong. A cute blonde chick begins loudly singing about an army of rainbows. Then an Indian girl takes the lead vocal - she's tone deaf but the spirit is there, and she sings with conviction. THEN - cut to a group of black kids and the most SOULFUL lead vocals this side of Mahalia Jackson - only thing is, no one is shown singing lead! Only the four kids singing backup. Where is this mystery vocalist? Have the Indians taught her how to make herself invisible?
It's just this kind of oversight makes this stinker of a movie ripe for satire. Offensive, pompous and bland throughout. You've been warned. ...more info
- One tin script rides away(with the boxoffice)
If like me you grew up in the 70's you KNEW who Billy Jack was and what he was about. If you didn't you must have been under a rock because Billy was everywhere. This isn't a great movie as much as it is a time-capsule of 60's and 70's ideas placed in what now is a simple action story.
Tom Laughlin stars,writes and directs this pagan to the "hippie" counter-culture of the time. The fact that the "heroes" in this movie are now annoying and not very sympathetic goes to show why the movement died out. Billy protects the "FREEDOM SCHOOL" from fat rednecks who want it gone. He talks about peace but if you disagree with him this Green Beret,half-breed Indian will beat you into the ground. Along for the ride are many bad folk songs and comedy skits that are jammed into this one with a shoe horn. I still enjoy this dinosaur of another era, but to be fair it hasn't aged very well. Still it is a lasting tribute to an era's believes and that makes it worth a look....more info
- The Begining of the Billy Jack ERA
There's no other way to describe this movie other then the word classic. Tom Laughlin stars in the role that reeled of four straight movies as Billy Jack. Delores Taylor plays the role of Jean Roberts, and Clark Howat plays the role of Sheriff Cole. Billy Jack is a half-breed Indian that leaves by his own code as well as Indian code. Jean Roberts runs a school on Indian Reservation land for trouble teenagers that come to the school to learn how to express themselves. Every time the students go to town people try to make their lives a leaving hell. That's when Billy Jack gets involved and things get out of hand when Jean is ***** by one of the towns upper class sons who can do no wrong. This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat from the start to finish. One thing though if you watch this movie then you'll end up watching the other 3 just to see how this ends.
- A Very Dated, Very Guilty Pleasure
One of my favorite Twin Cities pundits has said that the 1970s "began with Billy Jack and ended with the first Sex Pistols album." Having just viewed this movie for the first time in over thirty years, I can see why "Billy Jack" got its fifteen minutes (or less) of iconography. It has everything an early-70s cultural extravaganza could hope for: an epic struggle between good (peace-lovin,' folk-tune warblin' hippie youth) and thoroughly despicable evil (raping a skinny-dipping schoolmarm??! Shooting beautiful wild mustangs for... DOG FOOD??!!), and best of all, slow-mo martial arts (which would later be copped for the classic 70s TV show, "Kung Fu"). I loved it as a twelve year old, and still enjoyed it last night--and not *entirely* for campy, ironic reasons.
What still holds up thirty-plus years later is the Southwest scenery, some of the real Native American actors featured (although Billy Jack himself looks about as Indian as my Uncle Ole), and the organic feel of some of the scenes: I'd bet that many town council meetings of the era looked and felt about like the culture-clash depicted in the film. Although some of the more free-form scenes tended to drag, one could argue that they were accurate real-time depictions of the era.
The "70s moments" that had me alternatively chuckling and shaking my head were almost too numerous to mention, but included: the earnest, off-key folk singing (and equally earnest, but ear-bleedingly shrill, theme song); the untalented attempts at improv and street theater; Bernard's fancy new "$6,000 car"; the aforementioned schoolmarm's funky sideburns. But most of all, Billy Jack (aka Tom Laughlin) himself is a real doozy: so steadfast, so conflicted and tormented, so seriously spouting pseudo-spiritual babble while getting ready to kung-fu the crap out of someone. He is so obsessive and near-psychotic in his Great Protector role that its surprising that they let him hang around all those gentle hippies, in lieu of having him committed: it's a bit like having Travis Bickle (another 70s troubled loner) in charge of security. When Billy Jack finally takes that bullet, nearly goes down in the big shootout (there's even a character named "O.K. Corrales," for Pete's sake) and surrenders himself to the authorities in the wake of the raised fists of his young charges, one thinks: *finally*, Billy can get the help he needs.
Alas, the Tom Laughlin franchise was short-lived, with two truly wretched movies to follow before petering out altogether. Given the opportunity, he's probably champing at the bit to give us "Billy Jack Returns Yet Again" or some such thing. However, I'm happy to settle for this flawed, deeply silly yet highly entertaining timepiece and haul it out from the archives whenever I want to revisit my twelve-year old self....more info
- Violence is Bad Until I Have to Hit You
I really have mixed emotions about Billy Jack. Some scenes were quite good - while others had me laughing out loud at how inane they were. Whether you like or hate this movie will depend on how well you can deal with the silly moments.
Tom McLaughlin stars as mixed-race Billy Jack, a man who is very much like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. He's very skilled at violence, but wants to find the peaceful solution. Even many of the ways he moves and talks are quite similar to Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You have to wonder if Viggo saw and admired these films when they came out.
It's not that Billy wants to kick butt - but those darn townsfolk are just so nasty! They're killing off the horses, illegally, for profit. They're trouncing on the local school which tries to let kids be kids. The townsfolk are deliberately nasty to anybody who is different. Billy tries to reason with them - but when reason fails, out come the fists.
The school marm loves Billy, even while she tries to hold in his more violent tendencies. Even when she is raped, she could easily set Billy off for revenge - but chooses not to. The emotional mix in this situation was very much like in the Sopranos when Tony's therapist is in the same situation. She knows she has a viscious animal at her beck and call ... and deliberately makes the difficult choice to "do the right thing".
I don't mind that there are open ironies here - that the peace lovers turn to violence when it's convenient, just like everybody else does. What does get to me are some of the more "meandering bashing" segments, which appeared to be ad libbed for long stretches. The town hall meeting scene sticks in my mind. The townies are giving the kids a chance to be heard - and what do they do? They yell, they scream and are disrespectful. I like to think of myself as someone who always fights for the underdog, and it made me embarassed, actually, to think that I could have been in that room with them, pleading my point for them to be treated fairly while they were acting like spoiled three year olds.
I certainly agree with the theme, and with the idea that the townsfolk were very much in the wrong. However, this wasn't the 1690s. Many avenues existed in the early 70s to resolve this situation. It didn't need to come down to a standoff right out of the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird. If dad is slugging his pregnant daughter, even in the "ancient days of the 70s", I'm sure there was a way to handle that.
As a side note, it was rather funny in modern times to hear the kid lamenting about the "$6,000" he paid for his 1971 Corvette :)
Not very much about Indian ways at all, despite their snake ceremony. With Billy Jack being half native, I really would have loved to have much more said about his culture and background. Instead, he was more a typical Western Guy, taciturn until provoked. ...more info
- The Love Generation.. in all its Embarassing Splendor
I have been catching bits and pieces of this film on TV for years, always trying to discover its identity. Finally I was drawn in by the excellent cover of this DVD editon, and the mystery was solved.
Ok, even if you've outgrown the anarchist mumbo-jumbo, "Billy Jack" is undoubtedly a classic period film. You've got to admire its intrepid spirit. And furthermore, you've got to love the way it bombards you with cliches. It's made up entirely of 60's movie cliches. Maybe if you were to watch "Bonnie & Clyde," "Easy Rider" and "I Love You Alice B. Toklas" simultaneously, it would approximate the experience of "Billy Jack."
It's juvenile in its ideology and alot of the way it presents itself. But many scenes are surprisingly thought-provoking, especially when the actors are improvising. The scene where the school debates the city council is really intense, for example. Very true to life. Then the council members participate in one of the "psycho-dramas," obviously improvised. So this compounded with the actual conflict between the characters makes for an interesting dynamic. I think by letting the characters stretch out like this, they really captured some of the spirit of the times.
I also like the portrayal of the hippies as 'kids.' The idea of all these wayward kids and misfits under the thrall of one or two very charismatic but very troubled characters. It's poetic. More of an analogy for the 1960's than a literal depiction. And by 1971 when the film was made, displaying some historical hindsight, and a touch of satire. So I like to think.
"Billy Jack" is full of such icons. Billy confronting the snake. Bernard driving his car into the river. Classic mythology - entertaining and memorable.
As some have pointed out, the live music is awkward and will make you uncomfortable.. And what's with the theme song by Coven? Weren't they the first satanic band? What's all this "love thy neighbor" from the first satanic band? All the satanists must have felt betrayed.
Overall: too dated to be considered great. Too weird to be considered sappy. Too violent to be considered childlike or innocent. Better than "Hot to Trot." Not as good as "Throw Momma From the Train." Who will love this film? See it just once....more info
- Stick it to The Man!
Billy Jack is one of those movies that seems to have absolutely no middle ground with people, i.e., one either hates it or loves it. I fall into the latter category.
Although this film was shot on a shoestring budget and contains some of the worst acting (and singing) ever recorded on film, I love everything and I do mean *everything* about this movie! It will appeal to anyone who is: A) a major fan of the sixties; B) who still believes in the "peace and love" idealism of that time; C) those who love movies with scenes that are aimed directly at invoking your most basic emotions by way of manipulating you with cheap and shameless sentimentality.
Billy Jack panders to your sense of utter outrage at blatant hypocrisy and injustice, and invokes the hippie/flower child fear of living in a truly hostile environment infested with mindless townspeople and hateful rednecks.
Stick it to the man! Highly recommended!
Author of Labyrinth13...more info
- The way the world is
As someone who gets disenchanted with liberal self-righteousness and psychosis quite easily, I need a reminder every now and then of why I refuse to embrace the term "conservative" instead. This film serves that purpose for me.
As much as we may try to forget it, there really was a time when people of color were treated like [...] in this country and the wealthy had even more unrestrained power than they do now. This movie is a product of that time, and it gives its viewers a small taste of what the poor and minorities had to endure.
It also shows that sometimes the only way to change things is to give the bad guys a kick in the head or a piece of lead in the brain. Although Jean preaches non-violence and love throughout the movie, in the end it's Billy's Hell raising that calls attention to the Indian's plight and brings them some relief.
I'll be the first to say I feel no shame for being white, male and southern. I also have to admit that people who look like me did a lot of bad stuff to people who don't look like me, and that the scars from that will take time to fully heal.
BTW, for a modern, no BS look at race relations today, see the outstanding movie "Crash."
Oh yeah, I forgot, this is a movie review, so let me start reviewing. This film is good overall. Tom McLaughlin does a very convincing job of portraying Billy Jack, a former Green Beret and half-Indian who returns home to protect students at a very alternative school on an Indian reservation. His wife Delores plays Jean, the schools' extremely idealistic leader who embraces non-violence even when it gets her and her students beaten up. The pair do a grand job playing the non-violent response to oppression against the "just shoot the [...]" approach. In the end the message seems to be "no justice, no peace," a formula which is all too true, not only in the movie but also the real world.
I dinged it a point because it is choppy and somewhat amateurish at points, understandable given the low budget the producers had to work with. Nevertheless, for anyone seeking to understand the turbulent times of the 1960s and early 1970s this movie is highly recommended....more info
- It's about THE HAT!!!
Violence is golden in this, the first and best of the Billy Jack films. However, you can't dismiss this as empty-headed blood and guts,although the action is superb. If you watch all 3 movies you can see the evolution of the character Billy Jack from a guy who solves his problems with his fists to a man who uses his intellect and wisdom to overcome obstacles. Also, if your in support of Indie film makers then you should see all of Laughlin's work. The film also introduced Hapkido to America, a martial art that combines elements of Akido and Tae kwon do.The fight scenes are GREAT, some of the best ever. The hippie kids are a scream and Howard Hessman is pretty funny. The troupe he works with was a pretty infamous underground comedy group back in the 70's. But above all, it's about The HAT!!!!!!!!...more info
- I Just Go Berserk!!
Billy Jack is classic Drive-In Movie fare.
This is one of my favorite movies. And it's one of my favorite types of movies -- it's got the best of both worlds. It promotes a message of anti-violence while showing Billy kick ass left and right.
Here's another great example -- in one scene Billy catches a pervy villain (Bernard) in bed with a 13-year-old-girl. Billy rescues the girl from Bernard, but not before we get to see her naked.
Sure it's dated and alternately corny and pretentious, but it's still powerful and moving and extremely entertaining.
Today's audiences will recognize Billy Jack as an influence on the films of Steven Segal -- but it's also a model for movies like the Walking Tall films.
The sequels are nowhere near as fun as this movie -- Billy Jack is a treasure of American Culture (for its politics, its role in independent cinema and its amazing theme song by Coven.) ...more info
I get upset with all the negative comments I read regarding the violence/karate scenes 'Billy Jack' causes(there are only 2 karate scenes in each, 'Billy Jack' & 'Trial of B.J.') probably less than 5-6 minutes of the total movie, yet people seem to ONLY remember those scenes and not all the PEACE & LOVE demonstrated throughout the movies. Ignorant people and ignorant federal, state and local government caused any other violence portrayed in these films!
Tom Laughlin's caring, self sacrifice and contributions to the enlightenment of this country's people through his 'Billy Jack' series of movies is just staggering in my humble opinion. As relevant today in 2006, as it was back in the seventies.
I personally felt as if a bolt of lightening had just hit me in the head (and heart) as I walked out of that theatre after my first 'Billy Jack' experience so long ago. This young sophmore kid in high school determined to go out into the world and be an example myself, to try to make a personal and positive difference henceforth, no matter how large or small.
And, all those ticket sales verifying the 'Billy Jack' movie(s) popularity....just can't be wrong! 'Billy Jack' is the biggest selling independent film and on the list of the biggest selling top 20 films ever! Back in the 70's these movies literally enlightened and changed my life! And after watching them all over again in 2006 (including the 'Billy Jack Goes to Washington' which never got released) I have to say I think they are changing things yet again in my life, in ways I never imagined.
While I'm no expert on the workings and goings on of Hollywood, CA nor Washington D.C., I have no doubt that Tom Laughlin (and his wife Delores Taylor) 'hit the nail on the head' when they created these films. Writing, producing, directing and staring in them too, no small feat!
Yes......you should view (all) the 'Billy Jack' movies!!!! (Billy Jack, The Trial of Billy Jack and Billy Jack Goes to Washington).
- BILLY JACK WAS AN EARLY AND EFFECTIVE IF CONFUSED HEROIC ANTI-HERO
BILLY JACK WAS AN EARLY AND EFFECTIVE IF CONFUSED HEROIC ANTI-HERO
I saw this movie 35 years ago in the movies on the big screen, before multi-plex theatres. It seemed larger than life and obviously righteous. Now, as a mature man, I question the whole idea of a "Billy Jack" as a hero, anti-hero or anything. He seems self-destructive in retrospect to the point that the events of the movie could never have happened in the first place. Having said that, while I enjoyed the movie from an entertainment standpoint, I knew the movie suffered from many structural flaws, not the least of which was the lack of an ominous villian. No Darth Vador or Liberty Valence here. Instead, a father and son who illegally shoot horses in the Indian Reservation that Billy Jack policed, for dog food [.06 lb]and an abusive father who happens to be a Deputy Sheriff [Kenneth Toby]who is a minion of Mr. Horsemeat, with a pregnant 15 year old daughter that Billy Jack has given refuge to will have to surfice. Just think of how many action features fail because of a weak villain lacking in pathos. Anyone recall the "Return of the Seven"? Lorca was the villain and who cares?
I did say I liked this movie and I did and I still do, but while I applauded the characters for their principles and the courage of their convictions 30 years ago, today I see it as a confused but entertaining time capsule that summed up the 1960s in its own way. Today I enjoy the movie more for its spectacle value than its ideology, but I do recall that I believed in some of what I saw when it was first released though what exactly that might be would be a guess at this point. It was fun telling my wife who is 15 years my Junior that,"before their was Dirty Harry or Steven Seagal there was "Billy Jack" to which she just nodded with the same confused look I must have felt when I watched the film again after 30 years. I was wondering now if 6 cents a pound was enough money to be an incentive to hunt, catch and process wild stallions into dog food?
Rated PG, I was surprised that frontal nudity and a couple of other graphic scenes were included but it is still 4 STARS, certainly worth watching, but one viewing should do it for most people - more if the times, places, and ideas are especially close to home.
- Don't ever dance with a snake.
The first film to introduce "Billy Jack" was BORN LOSERS (1967).
Tom Laughlin returns as "Billy Jack" in this second film.
Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin) is a man who rides a horse and lives on the Indian reservation. He tries to keep the peace on the Indian land especially when the white people trespass and have no-good in mind. Mike wants to kill the horses for a dog food company. Along comes Billy Jack to stop him.
Harry runs a cafe, but when the Indian kids come in wanting an ice cream treat, Harry won't let them. This white soda fountain jerk doesn't like to serve Indians. Furthermore, Bernard (David Roya) and Dinosaur (John McClure) come into the cafe to harass the Indian students. Here comes Billy Jack to try and keep the peace, but outside it ends up being a karate match. Deputy Mike's daughter, Barbara(Julie Webb), runs away from home and when Billy Jack finds her, Barbara has been beaten and claims she is pregnant. Billy takes her to Jean's (Delores Taylor) school for young girls on the Indian reservation. Of course it is illegal for Jean to be "hiding" Barbara there along with the other girls, so the town council must get invovled to create a measure.
Billy Jack deeply believes in the Indian ways, but when some of the bad white guys find out Barbara has been with an Indian man, it sure does ruffle a few feathers.
This film became popular by word-of-mouth when it was released in 1971.
Best scene in the movie: An Indian student explains to "Barbara" (Julie Webb) why he will not have sex with her. She has always been in "anybodies". An "anybodies" is someone who puts out so she can get dates... He wants her to experience the fact he don't love her because she will give him some sex. He loves her for herself and who she is. She is a soft and beautiful person and he loves her in that way. He continues to work and does not have sex with her.
Also in the cast: Clark Howat, Richard Stahl, Howard Hesseman.
THE TRIAL OF BILLY JACK (1974).
BILLY JACK GOES TO WASHINGTON (1977).
It is hard to believe that Indians were a victim of discrimination and humiliation because of some prejudice white men. 37 years later, unfortunatly some prejudice still exists against Indians.
Update: Tom Laughlin was in remission of cancer of the tongue. He is currently suffering from Coeliec disease, an auto-immune disorder. ...more info
- One Tin Soldier
Tom Laughlin had a pretty big chip on his shoulder, but he hit on something special with Billy Jack. The movie is jam-packed with self-righteous indignation, but it carries a pretty good punch and seemed to sum up the frustration many felt as the late 60's gave way to the early 70's, with Billy Jack taking on small town America in this film. There are plenty of memorable moments in this movie as Lynn Baker tries to maintain a school for wayward kids in the desert Southwest. However, the local townfolk get tired of the riff-raff and want to force her out of town. In comes Billy Jack, an old boyfriend, to save the day. While she renounces violence, he sets about inflicting it upon anyone who messes with the kids, setting up one violent confrontation after another in which Laughlin can show off his impressive range of martial arts moves. His laconic expression and Native American temperment would later be blatantly expropriated by Steven Seagal. Ultimately the law proves to be too formidable a foe as we hear One Tin Soldier, the most memorable song in this movie, when Billy is finally ridden out of town by a fleet of police cars and the students issuing their salute by the roadside. Billy Jack would go on to defend himself in subsequent films, but this one and Born Losers are the only two worth watching....more info
- fascinating time capsule
"Billy Jack" is a very amateurish film in some ways, but it is so genuine and faithful to the zeitgeist of its time, that you have to like it. Look for Howard Hesseman (who later gained fame as Dr. Johnny Fever on TV's WKRP in Cincinnati) doing improv. All the youth fervor and ferment of the late 60's and early 70's is faithfully depicted. There is a scene where a bunch of rebellious kids confront a town council that is so real, so unscripted that it looks like documentary footage. This is worth a look just to see how the world has changed in the past 35 years...more info