Monday, April 4, 2011

Billy Jack Goes To Washington (1977)

Billy Jack Goes To Washington

Written by Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor & Sidney Buchman
Directed by Tom Laughlin

Billy Jack...Tom Laughlin
Jean...Delores Taylor
Saunders...Lucie Arnaz
Sen. Paine...E.G. Marshall

When Senator Foley dies suddenly of a heart attack, this leaves an empty chair that must quickly be filled.  The governor, in a combination of political trickery and gimmickry, grants that position to the most unlikely of candidates: a karate-kicking, half-Native American ex-convict known as...Billy Jack.

Billy Jack, who finds his criminal record expunged and all of his rights restored accepts the proposition, following the advice of his grandfather.  After all, it's just for a few months until the next election, when a real senator will be voted in.  But if in those few months Billy Jack can manage to pass a bill that allows for a national children's camp to be built at Willard Creek, well, he'll call it a win.

Unfortunately, Willard Creek is also the site for a proposed nuclear reactor.  The deeper Billy (and Jean, and the Freedom School kids that have tagged along) digs into the proposed reactor, the more he gets the feeling that something stinks in the great state of Washington.  And the worse the stink, the dirtier the politics.  In no time at all, Billy Jack has made great and powerful enemies the likes of which he is not used to.

You can kick a regular Joe in the side of the head.  But you can't kick the entire political machine.

In the previous entries of the series, the political subtext was on a much smaller scale, and thus much easier for the common man to comprehend and support.  This time around, there is no subtext.  It's just straight up politics.  Billy Jack's fight is on a much larger scale here, which would have more lasting and farther-reaching repurcussions as he attempts to make Congress honest again.  But for us the viewer, it gets a little, shall we say, dry on more than one occasion.

There are some deeply emotional scenes here, and the final 30 minutes or so in which we all learn how a philibuster is really performed, were fantastic!  Although Billy Jack is completely out of his element here, he's still a great character that one can easily get behind.  Which is better than being in front of him.  You'll never see those feet coming.

Occasionally sappy and overly sentimental, to be sure.  But over all, a pretty decent finale to the quadrilogy, so long as you don't go into it expecting another ass-kicking flick.  Billy Jack only takes his boots off once the entire time.

I know, I know.  I feel a little cheated too.

Rated PG
114 Minutes
United States

"The only causes worth fighting for are the lost causes!"

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