Johnny Barrows, a G.I, is dishonorably discharged from the army after striking his commanding officer. When he returns home, he is mugged and thrown in jail. Down on his luck and with no ...
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Nathan A. Grieve,
Johnny Barrows, a G.I, is dishonorably discharged from the army after striking his commanding officer. When he returns home, he is mugged and thrown in jail. Down on his luck and with no money, he gets a job at a gas station run by a racist jerk. After a while, he beats him up and is thrown in jail again. Shortly after, a mobster hires him as a mafia hit man because of his military training and he now gets caught in the middle of a rival gang war between two families. Written by
I got this film as part of this budget "Bad Brothas, Mean Mothas" boxed set, and watched this one first, because it stars Fred "Super-stud" Willaimson. I was surprised at what different and ambitous movie this is. Whether it lives up to all that ambition...
Rather than a typical revenge fantasy (nothing wrong with those, but...) this film follows Johnny B. as he tries to get a job and resist joining the mob after being dishonorably discharged from the army for striking a white officer (after being, to put it lightly, provoked).
It takes a while as the film unfolds to realize that he's not, as usually happens in these movies, going to get p***ed and get even. He is arrested and tormented by the police to which he won't even give his name or say anything. For a while I thought he was dazed by being beaten earlier, but by the time he gets to the police station he should be more coherent. Then I thought "Well, he's just so COOL that he won't even dignify those cops by talking to them," but then that falls apart as well and... I just don't know why he wouldn't talk. Because it's a plot point, I suspect.
The main idea of the story is Johnny trying to get a real job, and resist the mobsters who are offering him big money to become a hit man.
(SPOILERS AHEAD----->)The arc of the movie hinges on Johnny's love for a woman (a WHITE woman, no less), which we are supposed to understand leads to him finally agreeing to work for the mob in order to avenge her rape. Sadly, this entire aspect of the film just doesn't come off at all, as there is barely any connection between him and the woman, there is no discernible chemistry between them... there's just nothing.
(more spoilers here:) Another interesting thing about the structure of the film is how Johnny ends up the head of this crime organization at the end. It's just kind of interesting and unexpected. Then he offers his love to the woman, and instead of saying "Yes Johnny, take me anywhere and make love to me all day and all night! Do it right here! Do it right now!" like any sane woman or man would do, she... has a different reaction. And this leads to another surprising thing: the ending, which I totally didn't expect, but won't give away.
This movie being directed by Fred himself adds a dimension to all the adoring shots of himself glaring face-on into the camera, but hey, he looks great and he knows it. I also like the change when he finally gets into those slick suits. The cheap DVD I got REALLY suffers from not being widescreen, as Fred seems to like to place his characters on opposite ends of the screen, and it seemed like more than half of the movie featured half a person's face or shuttled back and forth between the ends of the screen.
A lot of people posting here have talked about how slow this movie is... I think because they're expecting a traditional revenge tale. This movie is not the greatest, but I think it deserves to be admired for the unconventionality of the story, and the aspects of 70s black culture (namely trying to get a decent job without any credentials, the difficulty of avoiding drawn into crime, in addition to the hammered in "plight of the veteran" aspects) that you don't see covered in other movies, which I think makes it kind of a little gem.
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