SassyFlix | Brotherhood of Death

Brotherhood of Death

Description

After antagonizing a Caucasian male, three black men: Raymond Moffat, Junior Moffat and Ned Tiese go on the run; join the army; fight Vietnamese; make dough selling dope; and return home to Kincaid County. They decide to assist oppressed citizens to be more assertive, and with the preacher's help, get them registered to vote. This does not auger well with minority Caucasians - who feel threatened, put on Ku Klux Klan hoods, amidst signs to 'Fight Communist and Intergration' and launch an all-out attack with impunity. Things get even more complicated when a black woman is sexually molested, a black male is blamed, and the Sheriff is shot dead, leaving corrupt lawmen and heavily armed Klansmen free to slay whoever dares to oppose them.

Reviews

Black 'Nam vets fight back against the Klan

Warning: Spoilers

Three black Vietnam veterans return to their home town in the South only to discover that a local chapter of the Klu Klux Klan is terrorizing the community. The trio decide to stand up to these vile racist scumbags by getting the oppressed black locals registered as voters.

Writer/director Billy Berry relates the enjoyable and engrossing story at a snappy pace, nicely captures a strong feeling of righteous fury and indignation, offers a flavorsome evocation of the rural setting, and delivers some exciting action in the last third. Pro football players Le Tari, Haskell V. Anderson, and Roy Jefferson make for likeable leads while both Ron David and Brian Donohue are appropriately loathsome as a couple of hateful bigoted jerks. The right-on funky theme song "Get Off Your High Horse" hits the get-down groovy spot. While rough around the edges (for example, the scenes in Vietnam go on for a bit too long as well as look like they were shot in someone's backyard), this film overall sizes up as a pretty cool little flick.

Forgotten Film of the Blaxploitation Era

A group of black Vietnam vets go up against the Ku Klux Klan.

Producer Ronald Goldman saved money by hiring a first-time director and having nearly the entire film shot in Montgomery County, near Washington. He further hired several members of the Washington Redskins as actors so he would not have to pay the higher fees of professionals.

Although forgotten today, Goldman reported that the film brought in approximately $1 million, after having been made at a cost of between $200,000 and $250,000. Not a huge haul, but still a fourfold profit.

Not surprisingly, the film was championed by director Quentin Tarantino, which lead to its eventual release on DVD by Anchor Bay. Say what you will about Tarantino (love him or hate him), he is an expert at getting old films noticed again.

Decent blaxploitation flick.

"Brotherhood of Death" is no classic of its genre, but remains pretty watchable throughout, no matter if it isn't particularly slick or the story isn't that strong. It's still fun to watch some cool brothers kick some seriously nasty racist honky ass. Any stature the movie might have would derive from its casting of a couple of NFL legends - Roy Jefferson, Mike Thomas, Mike Bass, Frank Grant - some in key roles. In any event, this is reasonable visceral entertainment with appropriately loathsome villains and a fairly short running time of a mere 78 minutes.

Raymond Moffat (Jefferson), Ned Tiese (Le Tari), and Junior Moffat (Haskell V. Anderson III) are three friends who go off to fight in Vietnam and come home to find the KKK raising some hell in their hometown. The Klan will go so far as to rape one black woman. While Raymond, Ned, and Junior do have at least one local white - the sheriff (Bryan Clark) - who is more or less on their side, they find that they will have to take matters into their own hands and stand up for themselves. They motivate their people to stand up for the right to vote, which only serves to anger the local white community.

"Brotherhood of Death" lacks any really good, memorable set pieces, but it's exploitative enough to suit some tastes, and it doesn't waste much time. As was already said, it's no problem to root for the heroes every step of the way, and take pleasure in the comeuppance of their adversaries. The movie does get off to a funky start with that "Get Off Your High Horse" theme song. The acting won't overwhelm you but it IS pretty sincere; Jefferson, Tari, and Anderson are engaging leads. And Brian Donohue is a solid villain as bigoted deputy Myrick.

The ending should send you away with a smile on your face. This movie may not be remarkable in any way, but it's still enjoyable for fans of this genre.

Six out of 10.

low budget and rather poor at times, but still a heck of a good movie

Aesthetically speaking, this isn't a very good movie. There wasn't much of a budget, the actors well mostly amateurs (including several Washington Redskins football players in leading roles) and the film would never be mistaken for Shakespeare....yet somehow I still enjoyed it all very much. I think it's because despite some lousy scenes (particularly the ones supposedly set in Vietnam), there was an energy about the film and the violence didn't seem excessive--despite it being a violent film.

A group of Black soldiers are home from the war and head to a small Southern town. The town is dominated by a group of Klansmen who keep the Black majority from voting or being treated like human beings. However, these newcomers convince the local population to register to vote so they can take back power and achieve justice. When hundreds show up to register, the Klan responds with violence. Eventually, though, the Black community has little choice other than fight back and the film ends with a small war between these combat vets and the Klan.

The film did a good job of capturing the new and hopeful mood of Black America and it also, believe it or not, showed some restraint. The Black men in this film wanted to do the right thing and not take the law into their own hands. They wanted to work within the system. When the somewhat sympathetic sheriff was killed by the Klan and they took over the job of policing the town, there could have just been a free for all or mob violence. Sure, some evil White supremacists were killed in the end, but only after the Black men showed a lot of restraint and really had no other choice. It was not a "hate White folks" film, but was intelligently handled.

By the way, as far as football players Roy Jefferson, Mike Thomas and Mike Bass are concerned, they were competent but that's about all. As a result of their often lackluster performances, Jefferson and Thomas never made another film and Bass only appeared in one more film more than a decade later. I grew up a Redskin fan but this film convinced me that they were smart to keep their day jobs! By the way, this is NOT a film for the kids. There is some nudity, a rape scene (thankfully not too graphic) and a lot of shooting.

Dumb but Fun

Brotherhood of Death (1976)

** (out of 4)

Incredibly stupid and politically incorrect blaxploitation flick about three black Vietnam vets who come home from the war and battle the KKK after they rape a woman. Like many other blaxploitation films, this one here takes a serious issue and makes it hip and cool. There are all sorts of racial slurs thrown around but everything is handled so poorly that you can't help but laugh at everything going on. The Vietnam scenes look like they were filmed in my back yard and the Klan members are the biggest bunch of rednecks I've seen on screen. This is certainly a pretty bad and childish film but it's got that blaxploitation stamp of campiness that keeps it entertaining.

Decent Blaxploitation film

Nothing really ground breaking here, but here are the pluses: Story is told decently, although it is not groundbreaking and the basic plot has been done before, there were enough original parts in this film to make it worth a view all the way through.

The acting wasn't bad, the klansmen, the sheriff, the bar owner were pretty good, but with the main characters (who I later found out were NFL stars) you did notice a dip in the quality a bit.

Soundtrack was hot, I've gotta get my hands on it.

This film needed more women in it, there are only 2 woman in the whole damn movie and they get very little screen time. That first one in the beginning was smoking!

I think of this movie as, the extra lite step child of "the spook who sat by the door". Not nearly as bad or exploitative as many of the blaxploitation films I've seen.

Not as bad as all that...

I will admit that the trailer from Gorgon video did seem so tremendously cool. But I had seen the film back in the early 80's on a Saturday afternoon broadcast on a local channel. I was fully prepared for it and think perhaps the previous reviewer is overstating the case. Yes, the jungle scenes are filmed in a yard, but the story and acting far surpassed what I had recalled from my childhood. It took me many years to finally re-discover this film (and I might add it is available on DVD for less than $10) and was very pleased with my purchase. But not to dispute the previous review, the trailer did kick serious ass with the tag line "See them avenge the death of a Brother, the rape of a sister, and the murder of their only honky friend..."

Exploitation vehicle for NFL stars

There appear among the stars of this little-known Black exploitation vehicle several 1970's National Football League players, who played mostly in the Baltimore/Washington area: Roy Jefferson (he was a Wide Receiver with the Chargers and Baltimore Colts), Mike Bass (he was a defensive back with the Washington Redskins), Mike Thomas (he was a running back with the Washington Redskins), and Frank Grant, who was a wide receiver. Several of the other actors may also have been pro athletes, such as Dennis Johnson (there was a Dennis Johnson who was a 1970's guard with the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns) and Larry Jones. For most, this is their only movie "credit."