A malicious motorcycle gang harasses the residents of a small California town, intimidating most residents to not report them to the police. Among the gang's crimes is the rape of four young women. As the gang attempts to threaten the women into not testifying at the indictment hearing, one of the women, Vicki, comes under the protection of Billy Jack, who has also had several altercations with the gang. The gang escalates their pressure on both Vicki and Billy Jack to keep her out of the courtroom. Written by
Warren Anderson <email@example.com>
The first "Billy Jack" film is a serious examination of rape and personal cowardice disguised as a biker/drug exploitation film. It manages to satisfy on both counts. No nudity, lots of outrageous clothing, and plenty of nazi bikers. Not quite as good as its sequel (which was written previously) but also not so preachy and talky. Dig the "nature carnage" at the film's beginning. Decent photography (marred in the DVD presentation by pan and scan process), but mid to low grade actors. Russell appears as a burnt-out, harried mom. Is she really acting? She's way over the top, but fun as always.
p.s. (2008, second viewing) p.s. the movie isn't going to appeal to everyone, but it's coming from a good place compared to a lot of exploitation films. There's a lot of classic Hollywood here, Tom Laughlin drawing on a lot of his roots. Like "Billy Jack" this movie is a very passionate statement against rape and it condemns society's attitude about rape. But because the victims are so beautiful, frankly the movie feels more exploitative and less serious than the more successful sequel. You could look on this movie as a learning experience for Laughlin, but it's a very interesting drive-in biker movie in and of itself, very different and more carefully put together than a lot of its brethren. For example this time around I noticed that the film can be seen as an anti-Western -- as opposed to the stereotypical concept of a white man rescuing the white virgins from the "indians", here we have an ostensibly Native American hero rescuing the white women from white bikers (bikes and jeeps standing in for horses and stagecoaches in the traditional Western iconography of course).
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