Brotherhood of Death (1976)
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Audience Reviews for Brotherhood of Death
68% See the Washington Redskins take on the KKK. The speech about Communism kicked ass. And the climatic "war" on hate mongers was pretty sweet as well. -Get Off Your High Horse-
See them avenge the death of a Brother, the rape of a sister, and the murder of their only honky friend. Brotherhood of Death has a very thin plot and hardly any character development. Considering this, the acting really isn't that bad when compared to the more popular exploitation flicks of the genre. The Vietnam stock footage is an obvious grainy contrast to the rest of the film quality, whereas other parts of "Vietnam" seemed to be filmed in someone's backyard. There are a considerable amount of racial slurs from both sides, which really don't come as a surprise considering the topic. Some made me burst out laughing along with it, if that was the intention. I found the action enjoyable and the pacing was done well enough that kept me from changing the channel.
This blaxploitation quickie, made during the waning days of the movement, has a kind of epic scope despite being only 75 minutes long, and is effective despite its 75 dollar budget. At its (hollow) core, "Brotherhood of Death" wants to examine racial turmoil in the pre-civil rights American South, the societal pressure that made black men willingly enlist in Vietnam, and take a few swipes at LBJ for his pro-Catholic policies and general dunderheadedness. We briefly touch on these, but director/editor Bill Berry chops out every inch of fat to distill this into a simple revenge fantasy: black GIs versus the KKK! It's sort of a Z grade "Deer Hunter", following three noble Nubian warriors as they anger the Klan, enlist in the Airborne, and learn the ropes of guerrilla warfare in the jungles of Nam. Charlie is the first to feel the brunt of their wrath. A shared joint and a jumpcut later, we're back in the Bible Belt as it's ever tightening around these Africans. Since this was made in the 70s, a rape becomes the catalyzing incident to pit the honkeys against the brothers. When the only decent white man, the town sheriff, is murdered by a deputy with an Evil Mustache, it becomes all out war. You can fill in the blanks from here. What's surprising is the intelligence in the screenplay and the artful compositions. Most of the action takes place at night (makes the brothers harder to see, y'see), and the lighting does not appear artificial, unlike 90% of cheapo exploitation pics. The barkeep sets up an intelligence network linking all the black servants of the Klansmen. Even the Grand Cyclops loudly plots murder in clear earshot of Rose, his live-in maid. Ambushes are planned and executed, stooges are kidnapped and used as bait. An insurgency proves effective at stopping the occupation, kind of like a zero-budget "Battle of Algiers" culminating in a grand shooting match. If anything, "Brotherhood" proves that wearing white sheets and hoods at night severely cuts back on your perception and severely increases your visibility. Also, poisonous snakes are good friends and buses make the best houses.
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