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|Index||11 reviews in total|
I will admit that the trailer from Gorgon video did seem so tremendously cool. But I had seen the film back in the early 80's on a Saturday afternoon broadcast on a local channel. I was fully prepared for it and think perhaps the previous reviewer is overstating the case. Yes, the jungle scenes are filmed in a yard, but the story and acting far surpassed what I had recalled from my childhood. It took me many years to finally re-discover this film (and I might add it is available on DVD for less than $10) and was very pleased with my purchase. But not to dispute the previous review, the trailer did kick serious ass with the tag line "See them avenge the death of a Brother, the rape of a sister, and the murder of their only honky friend..."
There appear among the stars of this little-known Black exploitation vehicle several 1970's National Football League players, who played mostly in the Baltimore/Washington area: Roy Jefferson (he was a Wide Receiver with the Chargers and Baltimore Colts), Mike Bass (he was a defensive back with the Washington Redskins), Mike Thomas (he was a running back with the Washington Redskins), and Frank Grant, who was a wide receiver. Several of the other actors may also have been pro athletes, such as Dennis Johnson (there was a Dennis Johnson who was a 1970's guard with the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns) and Larry Jones. For most, this is their only movie "credit."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a curious entry in the Blaxploitation genre, as things are
pretty slow and grim for the first three quarters of the movie. At one
point, the film drifts into a lengthy montage detailing a
community-organized voting drive (prompting my friend to comment that
the movie would have been more accurately titled "The Brotherhood of
Civics Lessons"). When it finally kicks in, though, there are some
great set pieces - notably the idea of putting "black" masks on the
klansmen and sending them into the line of fire (Also, I don't think
this is the first movie like this where a black guy dresses in a Klan
robe to sneak up on the real Klansmen, but it's particularly effective
here). It's not "The Spook Who Sat by the Door" or anything, but the
political content in the movie is pretty progressive (and
aggressive)... so while there's not as many jaw-droppingly insane
moments as in many Blaxploitation classics, this is still worth looking
Final notes: (1) I felt guilty about the fact that the thick funk song used to signify the Klan's approach was so incredibly catchy that I had trouble keeping myself from dancing in my seat. (2) The actors playing the Klansmen look awfully convincing, lending some real tension to some scenes - particularly the rape sequence (that looks like it was filmed in the same "jungle" that stood in for Vietnam). (3) Why do the signs advertising the Klan in the film call it the "KKKK"? Why the bonus K?
The story of 3 friends who go through the Vietnam War, and return to the deep south, only to have to fight the white supremacists back home. They fight fire with fire. There's no pacifism in this flick starring 3 different 1970's NFL stars. All in all this is a one-dimensional story of racism, and I have no huge desire to ever see this again. It is run of the mill good black men against evil white supremacists, the same story we have seen a million times before. It does have some good shootouts, and clever tricks, and the funk music never stops, but all in all nothing spectacular. However if you are a fan of Blaxploitation check out; you might get more out of it than me.
Nothing really ground breaking here, but here are the pluses: Story is
told decently, although it is not groundbreaking and the basic plot has
been done before, there were enough original parts in this film to make
it worth a view all the way through.
The acting wasn't bad, the klansmen, the sheriff, the bar owner were pretty good, but with the main characters (who I later found out were NFL stars) you did notice a dip in the quality a bit.
Soundtrack was hot, I've gotta get my hands on it.
This film needed more women in it, there are only 2 woman in the whole damn movie and they get very little screen time. That first one in the beginning was smoking!
I think of this movie as, the extra lite step child of "the spook who sat by the door". Not nearly as bad or exploitative as many of the blaxploitation films I've seen.
Aesthetically speaking, this isn't a very good movie. There wasn't much
of a budget, the actors well mostly amateurs (including several
Washington Redskins football players in leading roles) and the film
would never be mistaken for Shakespeare....yet somehow I still enjoyed
it all very much. I think it's because despite some lousy scenes
(particularly the ones supposedly set in Vietnam), there was an energy
about the film and the violence didn't seem excessive--despite it being
a violent film.
A group of Black soldiers are home from the war and head to a small Southern town. The town is dominated by a group of Klansmen who keep the Black majority from voting or being treated like human beings. However, these newcomers convince the local population to register to vote so they can take back power and achieve justice. When hundreds show up to register, the Klan responds with violence. Eventually, though, the Black community has little choice other than fight back and the film ends with a small war between these combat vets and the Klan.
The film did a good job of capturing the new and hopeful mood of Black America and it also, believe it or not, showed some restraint. The Black men in this film wanted to do the right thing and not take the law into their own hands. They wanted to work within the system. When the somewhat sympathetic sheriff was killed by the Klan and they took over the job of policing the town, there could have just been a free for all or mob violence. Sure, some evil White supremacists were killed in the end, but only after the Black men showed a lot of restraint and really had no other choice. It was not a "hate White folks" film, but was intelligently handled.
By the way, as far as football players Roy Jefferson, Mike Thomas and Mike Bass are concerned, they were competent but that's about all. As a result of their often lackluster performances, Jefferson and Thomas never made another film and Bass only appeared in one more film more than a decade later. I grew up a Redskin fan but this film convinced me that they were smart to keep their day jobs! By the way, this is NOT a film for the kids. There is some nudity, a rape scene (thankfully not too graphic) and a lot of shooting.
BROTHERHOOD OF DEATH is the story of a group of black friends who
return to their hometown after a stint in Vietnam. Fed up with the
harassment and abuse from the "Nighthawks of the Ku Klux Klan" they
decide to organize black voter registration to take control of their
town. Of course, the KKK (and their pink robed Grand Cyclops!) won't
stand for this, and so the battle between the Klan and the black Nam
With the exception of the sympathetic Sheriff, the white characters are cartoonishly evil goons. What do you expect though? The soundtrack is repetitive, but funky, if you like that sort of thing. The only thing this movie might be good at is explaining civics to a group of fifth graders. The rest of you will probably be bored to tears....
If you pick this one up, check out the beginning and the end only. Or better yet watch the trailer, as it has ALL of the good scenes from the movie condensed into about three minutes.
"Brotherhood of Death" is no classic of its genre, but remains pretty
watchable throughout, no matter if it isn't particularly slick or the
story isn't that strong. It's still fun to watch some cool brothers
kick some seriously nasty racist honky ass. Any stature the movie might
have would derive from its casting of a couple of NFL legends - Roy
Jefferson, Mike Thomas, Mike Bass, Frank Grant - some in key roles. In
any event, this is reasonable visceral entertainment with appropriately
loathsome villains and a fairly short running time of a mere 78
Raymond Moffat (Jefferson), Ned Tiese (Le Tari), and Junior Moffat (Haskell V. Anderson III) are three friends who go off to fight in Vietnam and come home to find the KKK raising some hell in their hometown. The Klan will go so far as to rape one black woman. While Raymond, Ned, and Junior do have at least one local white - the sheriff (Bryan Clark) - who is more or less on their side, they find that they will have to take matters into their own hands and stand up for themselves. They motivate their people to stand up for the right to vote, which only serves to anger the local white community.
"Brotherhood of Death" lacks any really good, memorable set pieces, but it's exploitative enough to suit some tastes, and it doesn't waste much time. As was already said, it's no problem to root for the heroes every step of the way, and take pleasure in the comeuppance of their adversaries. The movie does get off to a funky start with that "Get Off Your High Horse" theme song. The acting won't overwhelm you but it IS pretty sincere; Jefferson, Tari, and Anderson are engaging leads. And Brian Donohue is a solid villain as bigoted deputy Myrick.
The ending should send you away with a smile on your face. This movie may not be remarkable in any way, but it's still enjoyable for fans of this genre.
Six out of 10.
The story starts 8 years ago (I can't believe it's been that long).
I was a sophomore in high school when my friend and I decided to rent Faces
of Death II. I know, I know, but give us a break. We were dateless high
school losers who needed a little gore to break up the monotony of another
lonely Friday night. Anyways, before witnessing the abominable horror of
staged death scenes, there was a trailer for a little movie called
Brotherhood of Death. Imagine scenes of redneck Ku Klux Klan redneck types
gettin' their come-uppins from an angry group of Vietnam-hardened brothas.
Further imagine this with funk music in the background and a foreboding
voice incessantly repeating "Brotherhood... OF DEATH!!!"
My life was forever changed by that trailer. I actually made my friend stop Faces of Death in the middle of it so we could rewind the tape and watch the trailer over and over. Thus began a long 8 year search for Brotherhood of Death.
I finally found a copy for $10 last summer. As I popped the cassette into the VCR, I giddily prepared myself for an hour and a half of Man-bashing. What I got was pure, unadulterated crap. It certainly had a moment (maybe two) of enjoyment, but was far from the blaxploitation classic I had built it up to be in my mind. The Vietnam scenes looked like they were filmed in the woods behind my house. Yes, whitey got it good, but not until the last 5 minutes of the movie. Much like my review here, the movie was too long (at 90 minutes!) and delivered nothing but disappointment. Perhaps this a consequence of the time period it took me to find the movie. After 8 years, my expectations surpassed what Brotherhood of Death could have possibly delivered. Or maybe it was just a bad, bad movie.
My suggestion: rent Faces of Death II and watch the trailer for Brotherhood of Death. If you're a blaxploitation fanatic as I am, I guarantee you'll want to go out and find a copy after viewing the trailer. Resist these temptations!! Pretend that the trailer really is the movie. You'll be much more satisfied that way.
A group of black Vietnam vets go up against the Ku Klux Klan.
Producer Ronald Goldman saved money by hiring a first-time director and having nearly the entire film shot in Montgomery County, near Washington. He further hired several members of the Washington Redskins as actors so he would not have to pay the higher fees of professionals.
Although forgotten today, Goldman reported that the film brought in approximately $1 million, after having been made at a cost of between $200,000 and $250,000. Not a huge haul, but still a fourfold profit.
Not surprisingly, the film was championed by director Quentin Tarantino, which lead to its eventual release on DVD by Anchor Bay. Say what you will about Tarantino (love him or hate him), he is an expert at getting old films noticed again.
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