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Billy Jack

By Tom Keogh

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 Super70s and Awesome80s.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Tom Laughlin

Stars: Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor

Released: May 1, 1971

Availability: DVD VHS


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