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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Political > Vietnam > Western > Billy Jack (1971/Image Entertainment Blu-ray)

Billy Jack (1971/Image Entertainment Blu-ray)


Picture: B     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Film: B-



If you have never heard of Tom Laughlin’s Billy Jack (1971), that might be understandable because it is an independent production and reached DVD a few years ago.  You may have missed it, but we did cover it along with three other films with the same character.  You can read more if you don’t know about it at this link:





Of course, four films with the same character would now be generically called a franchise and the first three films made money; especially this one.  So why have you maybe not heard of Billy Jack?  In part, because it is one of several films between 1965 and 1978 that were big blockbuster hits, but have been “conveniently” forgotten by “someone” because it was part of a group of huge box office hits we could call Counterculture Blockbusters.  Billy Jack was up there with Easy Rider, The Deer Hunter, M*A*S*H, Midnight Cowboy, Blow Up, Fritz The Cat, Sweet Sweetback’s Badassss Song, several Rockumentaries, several Mike Nichols’ films and even Beatles films that did extraordinary business.  As a modern-day Revenge Western with a Native American twist, there are still those who want to ignore it for political reasons, but it is too important to be ignored and provides a priceless lesson on how to make a film with great impact outside the system.


Seeing the film on Blu-ray, it plays back much better and with more of the original edge than you might get out of the DVD.  The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in 35mm film and despite some soft shots, has many fine ones throughout.  Many shots have great color, definition and depth for a film so old and an independent production at that, but we still get slight motion blur too.  However, I was surprised how good this looked at its best and it definitely makes the DVD look weaker by comparison.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is just a very slightly smoother repeat of the upgraded soundmaster used (as Dolby Digital 5.1) on the DVD.  Extras repeat the DVD offerings of TV Spots, a featurette and two audio commentary tracks.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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