Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tom Laughlin: Indie Director/Writer/Actor of Billy Jack Film Series Dies

"I'm going to take this right foot...and I'm going to wop you on that side of your face.  And you want to know something...there's not a damn thing you're going to be able to do about it."

I imagine Billy Jack is having that conversation with St. Peter at the pearly gates.  Yes, you read that right, Billy Jack or rather his earthbound form of actor/writer/director Tom Laughlin has passed, on December 12 at age 82, from this reservation onto the next.

No one did Native American-US Army vet-turned-pacifist-action-hero like Laughlin.  He played the black hat-wearing, denim-clad Billy Jack in four films: The Born Losers (1967), Billy Jack (1971), The Trial of Billy Jack (1974) and Billy Jack Goes To Washington (1977).

As a kid, I loved the first two films in the series.  Laughlin had a likeable, genuine screen presence (although it's obvious when his double, Hapkido master and the movie's fight choreographer Bong-soo Han is being used).  Billy Jack wasn't a superhero, but man, could he open a can of whoop-ass on a bunch of dumb rednecks.

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