The Trial of Billy Jack
Written by Tom Laughlin & Delores Taylor
Directed by Tom Laughlin
Billy Jack...Tom Laughlin
Following the events of the previous entry in the series, Billy Jack is sentenced to 5 to 15 years in the state pen. He is released in the minimum amount of years, but during that time a lot changes on the outside. Jean, the heart and soul of the Freedom School, keeps things moving at a steady clip, and the institution grows exponentially, all in Billy's honor. The school develops their own alternative newspaper, and even their own television station, through which they expose the corruption of the town and its leaders. And so, when Billy Jack is finally free to return to his home, he walks right back into the boiling pot of tension and hatred that he had left behind.
The Trial of Billy Jack is even longer than its predecessors--it clocks in at nearly three hours!--and tries to cover so much ground that there's an 'everything but the kitchen sink' feeling I just couldn't shake. It's true, a little editing could have done wonders for this entry, but I'm just glad that the improvisational skits that so ruined the pacing in Billy Jack have been dropped completely, although there are still a few musical protest numbers along the way.
Some will say this movie is a sloppy. Others will say it is pretentious. And still others will say that it is sometimes blatantly ridiculous and unbelievable. And, I'm not going to lie to you here, hipsters: It is; it really, really is. The Trial of Billy Jack is one hot mess of a film, there is no denying that. And yet, I am such a fan of the Billy Jack character that I can not honestly bear any resentment towards this installment.