I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

The Soul of (hahem) Charley

The first sequel to THE LEGEND OF (cough cough) CHARLEY is the best of the series in my opinion. It takes place after the Civil War, so Charley is no longer a runaway slave, but he still has to deal with racists, including a former Confederate colonel who still leads his troop of assholes on violent rampages in black settlements.

Charley (still Fred Williamson) and Toby (still D’urville Martin) come across one of these towns right after everyone’s been massacred except for a little boy. By this time Charley is such a legend that the kid can’t believe he’s meeting him, it’s like he gets to hang out with Mohammad Ali. Or Fred Williamson.

Recognizing the threat of these marauders, Charley, Toby and the kid travel to the next town to warn them what’s headed their way. It’s an integrated town with many former slaves and very religious white people who don’t believe in violence. But Charley convinces them to put up a fight, Ewok style. There’s some pretty good action during the battle: a guy runs out of ammo so he turns his rifle around and hits a guy on the head, knocking him off his horse. Charley jumps onto a guy’s horse and wrestles him until the horse falls over. A guy gets dragged into the flames and catches on fire.

It’s pretty long at 1 hour and 49 minutes, and early on it’s like a Hobbit movie, there’s lots of boring shots of people traveling on horses. But for this there’s blaxploitation music, wah wahs and everything, so that’s a plus. And it starts to pick up later. It’s pretty epic compared to the first one, alot more stuff happens.

In part 1 Charley slept with the hot woman even though she was married to a totally innocent guy. In this one he full-on falls in love with a guy’s wife, but at least the guy dies heroically in battle first, and then she tells him how they weren’t really in love, and they still take their time. So it’s classy. Instead of a sex scene there’s a scene of them playing around in the water, splashing each other and laughing, while a pretty cool contemporary-to-the-time soul song plays.

Despite the subject matter and lots of tragedy there’s some fun in this one. Not jokey, but the characters have a sense of humor, they’ll do something and then laugh afterwards. Like, in one scene Charley makes a white man call him “Mr. N-gger Charley,” and when the guy leaves they all laugh about it.

There’s another funny part where they’re all hanging out in Mexico after the robbery, drinking and enjoying music and Charley’s eyes are buggin out watching this woman do a feverish dance, and that night he’s asleep and she sneaks in and tries to get in bed with him. Just then her boyfriend, Charley’s friend, comes in and sees them, and he and Charley get into a big brawl, breaking furniture and everything. But eventually Charley has him pinned and stops himself from punching the guy in the face, and says, “What are we fighting about? I don’t want your woman!”

And suddenly they’re Fight Brothers and they can’t stop laughing. “We nearly killed each other over a woman!” the other guy says in disbelief.

This Colonel is such a bastard that he blinds one of his men and leaves him in the desert just for saying “you have to admit” that Charley “was smart.” But he’s not even the main villain – they later find out about a train transporting $100,000 worth of gold, and they plan to rob it because it belongs to a General who started up a place in Mexico where he could still have slaves.

That’s the thing about these slavery or civil war blaxploitation movies: they have such built-in good guys and bad guys that it gives it that extra kick. It’s kind of similar to rape revenge movies in a way. In those it’s hard to get through the first part and it’s very upsetting, but then you really root for the woman to chop a guy’s dick off with hedge clippers or do whatever the fuck she wants to, it’s gonna be satisfying. These have that too. It’s hard to watch the brutality and hear the language and see people be demeaned, but man is it fun to see slaves escape, or revolt, or kill white people, or free other slaves, or make a white man call them “Mister.” They’ve fuckin earned it. Good for them.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 at 2:11 am and is filed under Reviews, Western. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

11 Responses to “The Soul of (hahem) Charley”

  1. Vern, I’m sorry to ask this, but are you going to review The Hobbit?

  2. @Griff: Sorry, old chap… no slaves in The Hobbit, just midgets aplenty wallowing in alternative lifestyles. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

  3. I know that it’s not within the theme of the day, but TAKE A HARD RIDE is the best western with Fred Williamson out there. Just saying. And not just because I’ve visited the town where they filmed it and had my picture taken sitting in the same spot as Lee Van Cleef in the opening scene.

  4. Griff – which one, the cartoon?

  5. of course, what other one is there?

    oh….I guess there’s also the Peter Jackson one as well, you could review that one also….maybe

  6. Well, you can vote for it here:

    http://outlawvern.com/review-suggestions/

    but I don’t know if it’s gonna beat COLOR OF NIGHT.

  7. I dunno about slaves but I happen to know those Ork things are being compensated at well below market rates. There’s been talk of unionisation but Soron keeps threatening to outsource all the mid-level pillaging jobs overseas (Narnia, I believe).

  8. Griff – Knowing Vern, he won’t review that and more likely JACK REACHER…whenever he gets around to it on DVD. And even then he could not bother with reviewing it. (That’s what he did on RED.)

  9. bummer, I was wanting to post my thoughts, seriously though Vern, why the snub for The Hobbit?

  10. I’ll review it when I see it. I like Peter Jackson. I’m just not in a rush because I don’t have much faith in stretching a short, simple kids book into three 21/2 hour movies. I already know not much happens and I gotta wait a year just to get to the middle? Plus they have it in 48 fps here and I can’t decide if I want to give in to my curiosity or trust the 25 or so people who’ve told me it looks like garbage.

  11. Vern – are you reviewing JACK REACHER?

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