Wednesday, December 25, 2013

One Tin Soldier Rides Away

"Billy Jack" is the story of a half-breed Indian, a (Vietnam) “war hero” who turned against the war, and abandoned society to live somewhere on the Indian reservation, studying ancient medicine ways, while defending the wild horses from poachers, and kids at the Freedom School from the violence of some of the townspeople.

Its naturalistic filming in parts, made it seem uncontrived and honest. It has some terrific martial arts action sequences, and a brilliantly poignant scene featuring co-star Dolores Taylor.

When policemen break the law, there is no law – just a struggle for survival.
-- Billy Jack

The film stars Tom Laughlin – who passed into legend this year at the age of 82, a stand-up guy all the way, and an ass-kicker to the very end.  He also wrote, produced, directed and made the coffee in what was clearly a labor of love and an expression of some deeply held beliefs (in that regard, reminiscent of John Wayne’s "The Alamo").

This film made a big impression on me. To start with, I’m a half-breed Indian, too. I was heavily into martial arts at that time, and I was also strongly against the war --- and I had something of a short fuse.  Like Billy Jack, for a time I tried to be a “pacifist” --- and like Billy, I found that it just wasn’t in me.

For young people today, "Billy Jack" provides a window into the late 60”s—early ‘70’s, and a chance to glimpse a small slice of the heart of the anti-war/hippie/generation. 
And the message of "Billy Jack" is just as vital today as it ever was:  that good people must band together against oppression and corruption, and that sometimes it is necessary and proper to use force against violence.



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