After a senator suddenly dies after completing (and sealing) an investigation into the nuclear power industry, the remaining senator and the state governor must decide on a person who will ...
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After a senator suddenly dies after completing (and sealing) an investigation into the nuclear power industry, the remaining senator and the state governor must decide on a person who will play along with their shady deals and not cause any problems. They decide on Billy Jack, currently sitting in prison after being sent to jail at the end of his previous film, as they don't expect him to be capable of much, and they think he will attract young voters to the party. Billy is pardoned, released and nominated, after which he begins his duties. He soon notices that things aren't right, and starts trying to find out just what is going on. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
I remember, as a kid, running into a bit of advance promotion on "Billy Jack Goes to Washington" in one of my teen magazines and readying myself for its release. It never came to my town, though it did surface elsewhere and quickly died; for myself, I would have to wait something like 23 years to see it, and then on a gray market VHS video version which did contain the complete film. It is an almost fully literal remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" made in full cooperation with Frank Capra, with Laughlin in his Billy Jack character taking the place of James Stewart. The budget on this project was miserly compared to what was needed, and it consists mainly of long and medium distance master shots in long takes; it isn't visually very interesting and cannot help but be boring. The excellent cast plays the property professionally, but invariably the piece comes off like a sub-TV Movie of the Week affair, and way too long. I haven't seen the re-edited version for DVD, but I would think that reducing the film's length would reduce comprehension of the story as well. Nevertheless, it is to be preferred over the bathetic and ridiculous "The Trial of Billy Jack," which can be seen as reflecting the screeching halt of the 60s counterculture; "Billy Jack Goes to Washington" may likewise reflect their attempt as reintegration into the system, but that's a bit of a stretch. The 70s were not the 30s; with the Watergate matter, Americans -- for the first time -- tasted widespread contempt of the full U.S. government including the executive branch. The Laughlins failed to take advantage of that, retelling the 1930s tale as it was, with little embellishment or updating. The Billy Jack character was a significant cultural component to the era in which he thrived; it's a shame that, past a certain point, the Laughlins were unable to find the right venue for Billy Jack to continue in, having lost sight of his pioneering martial arts appeal and his roots in the Western. If they needed to remake a classic, it should have been something like "The Tin Star."
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