J.D.'s Revenge 720p
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J.D.'s Revenge 720p
A docile black law student is possessed by a 1940's mobster in mid 1970s New Orleans, Louisiana. The mobster seeks revenge upon the people who killed him and his sister.
"J.D.'s Revenge" is a simply there possession film without a whole lot going for it either way.
In the middle of New Orleans, Ike, (Glynn Turman) and his girlfriend Christella, (Joan Pringle) try not to let his celebrity status affect their fun. Hitting a popular nightclub, he goes on stage for a hypnotism act and falls under, emerging from the experience seeing strange visions of the murder of an unknown woman in an animal slaughterhouse. Concerned nothing is wrong, he continues on with his life until he runs into Reverend Elija Bliss, (Lou Gossett) and he learns that the trouble has been caused by being possessed by a gangster who had a run-in with him years ago, and is now seeking revenge for being wrongly executed back then. Switching between personalities as he carries on his mission, they try to stop him before he is able to complete his blood-lust through the possession.
The Good News: There wasn't a whole lot to this one that really worked. One of the best ones is that it changes the rules around the whole possession angle. That this one has the male get possessed leads to some really nice moments, as the changes are going to stick out much easier compared to others, which is what is needed to sell the change. That also gives the later half of the film, with the real revenge getting carried through in real gang-land traditions is a lot of fun. From the confrontation in the Church to the fight in the meat factory, it has some really good stuff to it, action-packed while leaving closely enough to the horror elements through the changes which give it some extra pull. The different ways that the film presents the change, from outright changes to the flashing between the two with the same characteristics is rather nice and give the film a little more to it. The last big plus is the really inventive manner of the possession, here done through the rather harmless hypnotism scene. It comes with a great way of doing so that is completely innocent and really rather new. These here are the film's good points.
The Bad News: There wasn't a whole lot to this one at all. The fact that the film doesn't have much action at all, either normal action or horror action, is a pretty big effect on the film. It makes for some really dull moments as there's nothing much happening during that state. It happens during most of the movie, which is the worst part of all of this. It's really just dull for an incredibly long time of the film, and that's something which can really hurt the film. What also ruins this is that the tactics used to indicate that the possession has occurred don't have all that horrific a tag attached to them. Merely wearing a different style of clothes or hanging out with different sets of people are warning signs something's wrong, not something that is used to generate scares from. It's fine to have them as supplanted tools for the actual possession, otherwise this one shouldn't be based solely on such non-frightening motives for such a scary motive. The last flaw is that there's way too many scenes in the animal slaughterhouse. It's unnecessary, is morally disturbing to keep showing that scene over and over again, and does nothing for the film. That alone is one of the major things holding the film down, and all with the other areas are the film's flaws.
The Final Verdict: While not entirely without flaws, the good parts to this one are really just kinda there anyway and overall it's just mediocre. If there's something appealing about the genre or the film or just plain curious, then give this one a shot, otherwise it's best to proceed with caution.
Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Nudity, several sex scenes, a rape scene and animal slaughter
I first heard about JD's Revenge on a TV special called 50 Worst Movies Ever Made (2004) and it made #8. Whatever Ebert camper wrote in to have this quite unique experience 28 places down the pecking order from Ishtar!, hoped that by just showing the trailer and having the obnoxious narrator do a a oh so no care at all description of the plot would be enough to convince people of it's apparent 'awfulness'. The possible hope that viewers would clutch their pearls at the sounds of a black man saying the n word aggressively and mistake an authentic representation of a 40's zoot suit clad black gangster as a then contemporary racial stereotype.
Either the makers of that actually quite high quality list compared to today's IMDb bottom 150 fare failed to recognise the Jekyll and Hyde parallels or got too much caught up in the game and thought being repulsed by intentionally repulsive scenes was a sure sign of bad film making.
Sure it has pacing problems, but what Blaxploitation film doesn't? Apart from Jack Hill's films, but their you go. On the whole though, it was just the style, regardless of the director's colour. From Fanaka to Parks Jr. to Marks here, audience gratification peaked at 40% regarding filmmaking intentions, there were always messages to be had, like the sideshow carnival like exploitation of black church goers for one instance.
J.D's Revenge ain't a popcorn film, but it's sure as hell still a white knuckle ride through sly and subtle racial political commentary and genuine and authentic feeling characters. On top of this, it is also one of the most vividly imaginative screen adaptions of Robert Louis Stevenson's Victorian novella that i can recall seeing since Borowczyk's Dr Jekyll and His Women, and that, is, a feat.
Though i haven't seen it, i doubt even Dr Black and Mr Hyde would be a better blaxploitation retelling of the Gothic classic than this truly overlooked gem.
It's a rough one though. Their's some awkward sex scenes to say the least and JD Walker is as a pure and jive incarnation of evil as I've ever remembered seeing on screen. Rape, incest, razors, it's all him and he takes it in his stride. These elements can be attributed to it's under-appreciated status in Blaxploitation cinema as there is little of the expected 'butt dancing' mentality in this one to quote the titular mean mother. Though admittedly, there is also a Ted V. Miekels atmosphere at times, especially with the ending.
The most striking element of this film and why it hooks you in so is the contrast between law student Issac and the fire breathing JD. Glynn Turman (what a voice) gives an astounding performance as two polar opposite walks of the black experience. Intelligent and compassionate one side, darkly charismatic and demonically energetic the other. It's a tour de force, simply put. Everyone else is given a lot of improv leeway and it surely gives the film a distinctive taste, for better and worse, mostly better though as some of the line deliveries of otherwise overblown dialogue feel loose and organic, which is uncommon in Blaxploitation and exploitation cinema in general.
In conclusion, JD's Revenge is defo a case of one of these is not like the others as it's a tough, mean and surprisingly moral affair that has so many striking elements, it's almost as tough as the film itself not to give it at least one watch. Highly recommended.
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