Articles/Movie Reviews/Other/Brotherhood of Justice (1986)
When I saw the DVD of this movie in the $2 bin at the store, I couldn't resist getting it. The title just sounded incredibly lame and the thought of Keanu Reeves trying to be badass in a 1980s movie felt ridiculous. Plus, there was the cool supposed screenshot of the movie at the bottom of the packaging that depicts a big street brawl. However, this scene is nowhere to be found in the actual film.
This film was directed by none other than Charles Braverman, the director of television shows that include "Prince of Bel Air", "Baywatch", and even "Melrose Place". With all of these great shows under his belt, just imagine what he can do with a film! The screenplay was written by Jeffrey Bloom and Noah Jubelirer.
At the beginning of the movie, we see a bunch of punk kids of unknown ethnicity breaking into a school and vandalizing it by spray-painting lockers and slashing footballs. The next day, principal Joe Spano addresses the outraged students by giving a speech that some interpret as a rallying call for vigilante style revenge. These students, who include the characters of Derek, Scottie, Mule, Collin, Barnwell, and Les, decide to form a vigilante group called the "Brotherhood of Justice".
Their first act of justice involves putting on ridiculous masks and busting a pool party by throwing people into the pool and putting a hand print on some poor fellow's back. After committing these acts of justice, the declare that they will root out the evildoers of the community and that they are watching everyone. Although the group is sworn to secrecy, Derek's girlfriend Christie finds out from him that he is a member and begins to distance herself from him. In the meantime, her "friend" and coworker Victor starts hitting on her, much to Derek's chagrin.
The Brotherhood continues to beat up a drug dealer at the mall, stab a schoolmate, take out someone with a hard hit on the football field, and even plant a bomb on Victor's car. Eventually, they discover that their acts of vigilantism aren't creating peace, rather creating suffering and harm. This compels Derek to leave the group, leaving the apparently psychotic Les to lead the group to increasingly malicious acts.
The Brotherhood characters of Derek, Scottie, Mule, Collin, Barnwell, and Les are played by Keanu Reeves, Darren Dalton, Evan Mirand, Don Michael Paul, Gary Riley, and Billy Zane, all in their earliest roles. Derek's girlfriend Christie is played by Lori Loughlin and her friend Victor is played by Kiefer Sutherland. The school principal is played by Joe Spano and Derek's brother Willie is played by Danny Nucci.
The acting in this film is pretty bad, but then again, this was one of the first films these young actors ever made. Keanu Reeves gives a serious performance that is actually better than some of his more recent work, but it is still pretty bad. Billy Zane was the only actor who really stood out and he would later go on to play other psychopaths in films like "Titanic" and "Dead Calm". Kiefer Sutherland's character in this film is annoying and incredibly lame, plus anyone who hits on another person's girlfriend doesn't get my sympathy. Most of the other young actors are simply awful.
The music is typical 1980s fare with a lot of cheesy synth sounds. Since this was a television movie, it didn't have a high budget and apparently couldn't afford to license popular music at the time to put in the film. Although dated, the music actually fits the 1980s theme better than anything else I could think of.
Although the movie was pretty bad, I thought that it had a good idea that could have been carried out better. If the film was modernized with better actors, I think it could do pretty well. It has a good message about vigilante justice, although I don't entirely agree that vigilantism is bad in some cases.
Overall, this movie might not be worth your time, but it is worthy of a laugh or two. It provided a launching point for a few careers, although it seems that some of the actors did not go much further. There aren't many places that you can find this rare gem, but maybe if you do some bin diving at the video store you can get a hold of it.