Billy Jack Reviews
Some may not like the heavy dialogue exchanges, but the topic at hand here is both interesting and controversial. The discussions made me want to participate alongside the youths to thwart against, not the conservatives, but the awful, asshole things the police forces and two other numb-nut characters do to the innocent during this film. It is definitely a period piece film (a good one at that) and the political talk remains relevant today.
Kudos to Laughlin's hard work on making this low-budget, independent film a success because it is shot very well, has some well done action scenes (even though they're sparse), and it makes use of a soundtrack that compliments the film's visuals, characters, and message.
I liked it more than I expected to. I was amazed/appalled at how issues it broached are paralleled in our current events.
Billy Jack is a former Green Beret who served in the Vietnam War. He didn't agree with the war, and when his time of service was over, he returned home to live on an Indian reservation. Billy is half American and half Native American, but he studies the old ways with a shaman in the caves. He also serves as the protector and police force for the Native Americans as well as a special school that has recently opened on the reservation. Unfortunately, some locals don't like Native Americans or the school, and Billy may go down fighting to protect his people and the children of the school.
"You're making a mistake."
"I've made them before."
Tom Laughlin, director of The Proper Time; Like Father, Like Son; The Born Losers; The Trial of Billy Jack; Billy Jack Goes to Washington; and The Return of Billy Jack, delivers Billy Jack. The storyline for this picture is okay but seemed too much of a mix of Indian culture and the school was almost depicted as "cult like." The racial stereo types and lessons learned were depicted well and the action scenes were definitely cool. The cast delivers okay performances and includes Tom Laughlin, Victor Izay, Delores Taylor, and Clark Howat.
"When was the last time you cut your hair?"
"When was the last time you brushed your teeth, sir?"
I watched this picture off Netflix because the plot sounded interesting (and it was scheduled to come off Netflix on 3/10). I will say the premise was okay and some aspects of this film were awesome; but overall, the run time was too long and some plot points were not as good as intended. This film is just okay and definitely could have been better.
"When police break the law there is no law."
Billy Jack sets up to be interesting because it has a really well constructed into, using a lot of beautiful scenery and footage of horses running as the beautiful Jinx Dawson cover of the song "One Tin Soldier" plays which sets up the atmosphere for the time of the film and feel or how the story will movie.
And Billy Jack is an interesting film, because it's the first film I have scene which deals with how Native American figures are treated in the timeframe of counterculture society. And its protagonist, the titular Billy Jack, is a contemporary cowboy who fights for the equal rights of Native Americans, Caucasians and hippies. And it's rather ironic because the film's message of peace gets mixed up with all of its violence and so it poses the audience a question of just where the line is.
While Billy Jack has an interesting start, it soon dissolves into a simply extended period of talking which goes on for very long and loses it's interesting qualities very fast. It then becomes an extended period of waiting as the film explores basic characters who all play small roles in the story and other random themes which aren't essential to the story or for helping it develop. It goes on for more than a solid hour, which is more than half the film. So more than half of Billy Jack is boring and cheap storywriting which doesn't even focus enough on the titular hero to characterise him all that well.
And while the visual quality of Bily Jack is great, the audio quality is weak. The voices of the actors needs to be fixed because it's too quiet and fuzzy to be that enjoyable and distracts from the pleasure of the film.
Honestly, many of the flaws in Billy Jack remind me of the many flaws I found in a film of my own, my first feature length project. While the intro is shot well and its a determined efforts from Tom Laughlin for writing, directing and starring in it, the pacing is excessively slow and the film is a bit too long for its own good. While Tom Laughlin succeeds giving Billy Jack stylish direction and a good lead performance, he just doesn't really tell the story as best he could or give it an appropriate amount of stimulation between the effective beginning and ending of the film. Billy Jack is a hero, but I just wish the film spent more time telling us that.
So although Billy Jack has good intentions, a good cast and a memorable soundtrack, the film has an extensively dull middle section which drags the viewing experience into territory which is nothing short of boring.