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MGM Studios DVD presents
J.D.'s Revenge (1976)

"Over? J.D.'s just getting' it together, just startin' to make his move."
- Ike (Glynn Turman)

Review By: Daniel Hirshleifer   
Published: November 19, 2001

Stars: Glynn Truman, Lou Gossett
Other Stars: Joan Pringle, Alice Jubert
Director: Arthur Marks

MPAA Rating: R for (sex, violence, nudity, a scene of rape)
Run Time: 01h:35m:57s
Release Date: December 26, 2001
UPC: 027616870452
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+C+C+ D-

DVD Review

I always felt that blaxploitation films were an untapped resource; low budget films that often had excitement, style, and panache to spare. Sure, people know Shaft and Superfly (and, to a lesser extent, Foxy Brown and Blackula), but no one has paid close enough attention to blaxploitation as a serious film movement. And that's a shame, because some really good films came out of it; some no one even remembers anymore. Take J.D.'s Revenge, for example. A simple revenge story becomes a vehicle for some excellent acting, with more depth than you'd expect out of the normal blaxploitation film.

It's 1942, New Orleans. We witness a murder of a beautiful woman, Betty Jo Walker (Alice Jubert) by a mysterious man. Her gangster brother, J.D. Walker (David McKnight), finds her, only to be accused of killing her. He is then executed by the same mysterious man. Cut to 1976, where Ike (Glynn Turman), a football player, and Christella (Joan Pringle) decide to go out to celebrate their anniversary. They go to a hypnotist's show, and Ike volunteers to be hypnotized. While under hypnosis, he sees visions of Betty Jo's murder. Afterwards, he starts seeing more visions, and becomes more aggressive, buys 1940s' style clothing, and starts to take on mannerisms of the dead J.D. Christella starts worrying about his behavior, but Ike becomes more possessed. Mixed into this is a preacher, Rev. Elijah Bliss (Lou Gossett, later billed as Louis Gossett, Jr.), whose daughter, Roberta (Jubert again) is a dead ringer for the dead Betty Jo.

The plot is pretty simple, but the one advantage J.D.'s Revenge has over tons of other "possession" films is an economic sense of style. Why beat the audience over the head with special effects, if you can put in some effectively creepy music, and some unsettling camera moves? Of course, it can't compare to The Exorcist, the peak of the entire possession field, but it holds its own against lesser examples of the genre.

The reason that the whole thing may work in the first place is top-notch acting. Almost everyone in this movie is memorable, and Glynn Turman and Lou Gossett give unforgettable performances. Glynn Turman goes from the benign and good-natured Ike to the hard-hearted J.D., and manages to make the progression believable and at times even understated. He really makes it seem as if Ike has no idea what is happening to him. Lou Gossett is impassioned as Elijah Bliss. While Gossett could easily coasted through this role, he gives as much passion here as he would to one of his bigger dramatic roles, and it makes the character of Elijah shine like few supporting characters can.

Be warned, however. This IS a blaxploitation film, and, as such, there is plenty of sex and violence. In particular, there is a rape scene and a scene where Ike as J.D. brutally cuts up a man, after having sex with that man's wife. There's also a lot of footage of people cutting huge gashes into cows. If you have problems with sex and violence, stay away from this one. If, however, you can tolerate it, then sit back and enjoy an unjustly overlooked film with some great acting.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: MGM presents J.D.'s Revenge in both an anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer, and a pan-and-scan transfer. Both transfers show their age, with washed out colors and a lot of grain. Several times I could see very conspicuous marks and specks on the screen (although obviously from the source print). Still, I'm sure this looks better than any VHS version.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Available in a mono mix, everything is audible, without any hissing, dropouts, or other things that plague older soundtracks. However, the dialogue is mixed lower than the sound effects and score, which means you have to have your hand on the volume button almost all the time. The score comes across the best, with great sound and good music.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: As you probably could have guessed, MGM wasn't going to lavish a movie like J.D.'s Revenge with tons of extras, only the theatrical trailer.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

J.D.'s Revenge is a perfect example of a forgotten gem. Buried under a pile of blaxploitation films of varying quality, J.D.'s Revenge is notable for its excellent acting and stripped down style. If you see this one at your local video store, give it a whirl.

 


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