The original "Billy Jack" (1971) showed some promise and was so popular that it grossed nearly $33 million on a budget of only $800,000. Even though excessive violence was used to combat violence, folks eagerly awaited the sequel and lined up at theaters in 1974. The result was a major disappointment. "The Trial of Billy Jack" certainly began with hope, with its scenic vistas of Arizona's Monument Valley and the Elmer Bernstein score. But this overlong, three-hour flop takes an early exit and goes nowhere quickly. Virtually without plot, the movie jumps from one social issue to the next: cultural clashes, child abuse, crooked politicians, the establishment, hippies, the military, Vietnam, the police, etc. Jean Robert's sobs in her hospital bed, and begins to tell a long story to a young female reporter. So, almost everything that follows appears in flashback.
The trial itself only occupies a short portion of this film. There were good reasons for Billy Jack's killing of Bernard Posner in "Billy Jack": after all the young man was a murderer and rapist. But the defense of Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin) seems inept; the lawyer does not ask about the circumstances. On the other side, the prosecution essentially asks Billy Jack about his philosophy of life. Then we get flashbacks about the Vietnamese War and accompanying atrocities. In the end, Billy Jack goes to prison for involuntary manslaughter and serves four years, so that Laughlin is off the screen for perhaps three-quarters of an hour. This screen time allows attention on Jean Roberts (Delores Taylor) and the progress of her Freedom School.
Previously the students themselves renovated an old abandoned military academy in the desert. They worked hard and begged, borrowed, and scrounged for funds. They governed themselves by "love" (oh, oh). They learned and practiced about various topics, like meditation, body awareness, exercise, dance, band, music, arts/crafts, yoga athletics, math, and psychology. They discover an effective treatment for abused children (and even their abusers). When Jean hosts a child abuse conference, she reveals that the solution is love and patience. The hippies build a radio station and gain royalties by selling their recordings "door to door." They start a newspaper to expose right- wing corruption. Several long- haired geniuses even invent a lying machine! Yep, they can tell when a politician is lying, even on TV. The kids say that the FBI, CIA, and police are totally corrupt. When these young geniuses began to expose the top bigwigs of the country, the moguls begin to take notice. The masterminds claim that the Nixon White House and oil barons "manipulated" the entire 1973 energy crisis and engineered the Arab-Israeli War! Really? Esteemed journalists the world over missed this one. Actually the Arabs and Israelis detest each other and have been at odds for many decades, up to the present day! Anyway, the students seem to know so much that the barons apply pressure on the school. When they illegally tap the telephones, the kids outsmart them (again). Eventually the school's TV station gets wrecked. Damn Republicans!
Given their dialogue, it is utterly impossible to believe that the kids are superlative masterminds, or even have learned very much. For they are as self-righteous and pompous as ever: with them there is no compromise. So when they attempt to work things out by themselves, they descend into chaos, and even scream at poor Jean! Meanwhile ignorant louts from town bully students, punch a girl, and burn the school bus. This becomes an excuse for a vengeful Billy Jack to take off his boots and socks before he lowers the hapkido boom. Oh, oh, someone is gonna get hurt! Billy Jack reprises his role when Blue Elk (Gus Greymountain) gets battered by rednecks for no obvious reason except that he's an Indian. Then he's inexplicably dragged amid a town dance, with the local judge in attendance. Folks could only stare; no one even tries to help. Billy Jack though takes over. Then another Posner (Riley Hill), also a jerk, dies trying to kill the hapkido master. The corrupt police also try to set up and kill Billy Jack, but he escapes. Meanwhile, the Indians continue to be gouged on the reservation and their lands shrink, assisted by their paid-off brothers. They too argue among themselves. Some starving Indians get ten days jail time for deer hunting out of season. A black woman who cannot keep up with furniture payments is dispossessed. A ski rescue (under clear skies!) is used to vilify a prejudiced doctor. There are so many plot points that come and go quickly. Fine editing would have helped immeasurably.
Besides its extreme length and inept editing, the movie is weak in its pretentious dialog and political posturing. In addition, the hippies are amateur actors. They are also inferior guitarists and singers (Nice music department, Freedom School!). The pacing is torpid and several scenes take up too much screen time, like Billy Jack's spiritual vision to conquer his demons (while painted in red). Except for Teddy Kennedy (at Chappaquiddick) and the hippie rock thrower near the end, the left-wingers are good and do no wrong. The few good whites are those associated with the school, Sheriff Cole (Sparky Watt), and the founding fathers of Virginia, like Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. The rest are bullies and racists. Republicans are wicked: Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford are mentioned by name. In frustration, Jean eventually calls for a revolution on school TV. Did real life husband and wife Laughlin- Taylor really believe this stuff?
The last part of the film imitates the 1970 strife at Kent State: National Guard vs. students. After that, Blue Elk says while holding a torch, "If this country must have another Civil War, then let it start here." Ugh!!! Then the surviving kids tell Jean that they are going to start their own schools everywhere. "With what?" one might add! Extremely disappointing!!
The Trial of Billy Jack
Action / Drama / Music / Thriller
The Trial of Billy Jack
Action / Drama / Music / Thriller
After Billy Jack in sentenced to four years in prison for the "involuntary manslaughter" of the first film, the Freedom School expands and flourishes under the guidance of Jean Roberts. The utopian existence of the school is characterized by everything ranging from "yoga sports" to muckracking journalism. The diverse student population airs scathing political exposes on their privately owned television station. The narrow-minded townspeople have different ideas about their brand of liberalism. Billy Jack is released and things heat up for the school. Students are threatened and abused and the Native Americans in the neighboring village are taunted and mistreated. After Billy Jack undergoes a vision quest, the governor and the police plot to permanently put an end to their liberal shenanigans, leaving it up to Billy Jack to save the day.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 08, 2018 at 08:58 PM