February 21st, 2009

BILLY JACK (1971) **

Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin) is a half breed Indian who doesn’t like it when the racist redneck townsfolk mess around with the hippie students who go to school on his reservation.  Whenever somebody is cruel to one of the hippies, Billy Jack Kung Fus the crap out of them.  Despite their differences, Billy Jack and the hippies try to live peacefully among the townspeople, but when the mayor’s son rapes Billy’s girlfriend (Delores Taylor), Billy Jack goes out for vengeance.


Billy Jack is the kind of movie that gets a lot of crap about the main character’s so-called pacifism.  To me, Billy Jack never was a pacifist.  The kids at the school are, sure and his girlfriend most certainly is.  In fact, she doesn’t tell Billy that she got raped because she KNOWS he’ll go out and kill the creep who did it!  Pacifists don’t usually run out at kill rapists at the drop of a hat now do they? 


Speaking of completely unnecessary violence, I especially liked the way that Billy Jack dished out his own brand of justice.  Example:  A couple of Indians go into an ice cream parlor and the guy behind the counter refuses to serve them because they are non-whites.  Some jackass (the same guy who’ll later rape Billy’s girlfriend) then proceeds to throw flour in their face to make them look “white”.  Billy shows up, gets this extremely pained look on his face, gives them a stern talking-to, and then unleashes a can of Indian Whoop Ass on the punks, as well as a couple of rowdy townspeople who don’t cotton to Billy’s ways.


The scenes where Billy Jack Kung Fus the crap out of intolerant redneck troublemakers are pretty awesome, but for Christ’s sakes, this flick features way too much of the damn hippies and not nearly enough of Billy Jack kicking ass.  Literally half of the film’s running time is devoted to hippie songs, hippie committee meanings, hippie improvisational stage plays, and hippie street performances.  It’s enough to make you wanna puke.  All I got to say is, thank God for the 80’s.


There’s a lot of good stuff in Billy Jack though; mainly Billy Jack himself.  He’s a badass alright.  He karate chops the shit out of people real good and even the scene where he did a little rain dance around a snake and let it bite him a dozen times so he could have a “vision” was pretty cool.  I mean at one point in the movie, Billy Jack gets shot and isn’t even fazed by it!  That’s badass.


The problem is… BILLY JACK IS BARELY IN THE DAMN MOVIE!  The flick runs a L-O-N-G 114 minutes and probably only ten or fifteen minutes of it is devoted to Billy Jack kicking ass and taking names.  Most of the film just centers around a bunch of hippies doing hippie shit, so it drove me completely bugshit. 


Billy Jack is slightly better than Born Losers (the first Billy Jack movie), if only for the classic ice cream parlor scene.  The theme song, “One Tin Soldier” is also quite memorable and will end up getting stuck in your head for days.  A random hippie chick gets the best line of the movie when she scolds Billy’s girlfriend:  “Damn your pacifism!  I’m not going to let that sick animal get away with this!”

Followed by The Trial of Billy Jack.