BILLY JACK: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION REVIEWED
“Billy Jack: The Complete Collection” presents all four Billy Jack movies in a weird collection. I say weird, as a Tom Laughlin fan. I’ve seen the original WB prints, the Image DVD releases and even a few shady market VHS tapes. Before we get talking about the movie, I have to specify something. “The Trial of Billy Jack” is an overlong movie that was shot in scope (2.35:1), what’s up with showing a cropped HD master? I expect more out of Shout, as this obvious HD premium cable transfer should’ve been brought to consumer attention before release.
But, what of a karate kicking ex-Vet? Tom Laughlin decided to make a name for himself directing, writing and starring in a film series about the most kickass Native American to ever hit the big screen. While his first movie “The Born Losers” was closer to being pure exploitation, the Billy Jack movies were grandstanding time capsules. “The Born Losers” plays more like a movie in the wake of “Easy Rider”, Laughlin seeds the ideas of what he wants to do later. It’s just a few years until he gets to go weird with “Billy Jack”.
In the modern era, these movies would’ve gone straight to video and been forgotten to the loss of humanity. Billy Jack starts his headlining films, as an ex-Green Beret/ex-cop who goes into the desert to learn from a Medicine Man. When an evil land baron starts slaughtering horses for his dog food company, our hero steps up to the fight. From there, he’s karate kicking rednecks and beginning his path to a political future. All the while, we get to hear “One Tin Soldier” blare in the background.
The second film is a trippy protest against the campus shootings and riots happening at the time. In that film, Billy Jack goes on trial for defending a Native American school from brutality. Plus, he’s still on the hook for killing the bad guy at the end of Billy Jack. The third film exists to get Billy Jack pardoned and have him take his message to Washington. While he gets appointed an interim senator, Jack still wants people to hear his message.
These are the kinds of films that Chuck Norris could never had make. Mixing political aspiration with the willingness to dive weird into B-Movie action produces films made of love. While Shout really messed up by botching the transfer on “Trial of Billy Jack”, this is still quite a release. Hopefully, they fix Trial and issue a solo disc release in the future.
- Still Galleries
- 1.78:1, 1.85:1, 2.35:1 1080p transfers
- DTS-HD MONO