Friday, August 15, 2014

The Trial of Billy Jack (1974)

How bad is it? I fell asleep watching it several times.
Should you see it? Perhaps with a heavy finger on fast-forward.

Yes, Billy bitch-slaps Jesus.

The character of Billy Jack, a half-Native American martial arts expert back from a tour in Viet Nam, was first seen in "Born Losers," a biker gang movie, where Billy's peace-through-kicking-ass idea originated; it has a cult following and is watchable. Then came "Billy Jack," which featured a surprise hit song "One Tin Soldier" and thus made enough money to support a franchise. "The Return of Billy Jack," "Billy Jack Goes to Washington" and this followed, each being weirder and less interesting than the previous film. This film is three hours long and is told in flashback. Billy's in jail for involuntary manslaughter (which was more than voluntary), but his Freedom School's doing well, especially in journalism, where they're broadcasting on television and disturbing the conservative locals. Students and native americans get taunted, threatened, attacked and abused. Then Billy gets out of jail, goes on a vision quest and proceeds to kick butts. The film throws in: wire-tapping, campus shootings by the National Guard (a la Kent State), police brutality, corrupt officials, child abuse, Indian rights violations, philosophy, psychology, spirituality, karate, guns... everything but the kitchen sink. It can be funny in small doses - but, wow, did it need editing.

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