Cleaning Out The DVR: Fury To Freedom (dir by Erik Jacobson)

It’s that time of year again!  It’s the time when entertainment hoarders like me take a look at our DVR and discover, to our horror, that we’ve only got about 3 hours of space left.  When that happens, it means that it’s time clean out the DVR and hopefully make some space before 2021 brings a whole new collection of shows and movies to be recorded.

Yesterday, I got a start on cleaning out my DVR by watching the 1985 film, Fury to Freedom.  I originally recorded it back in August and I’m going to guess that I did so because I liked the title.  Fury by itself is good.  Freedom is even better.  Put them together and you’ve got something I’m definitely going to record!

As for the movie itself, it was obviously a low-budget and independently made movie.  I’m guessing that it was specifically made to be shown to church groups.  It’s one of those films that tells the true story of a sinner who becomes an evangelist.  It ends with preaching but, before you reach that point, you’ve got about an hour or so of sinning.  It’s the old Cecil B. DeMille method.

The film tells the story of Raul Ries (Tom Silardi), a teenager who grew up in an abusive home and constantly finds himself in a conflict over whether or not to do the right thing.  His girlfriend, Sharon (Joy Vogel), always pushes him to follow the right path.  All of Raul’s friends are always pushing him to follow the wrong path.  As for Raul, he just wants to earn a black belt in karate but the local sensei doesn’t think he’s ready to learn.

After Raul loses his tempter at a party and slashes someone’s face (agck!), he ends up joining the Marines and getting trained to fight in Vietnam.  (I was pretty sure that, during the basic training scene, I spotted a young Jon Favreau as one of the Marines but, according to the imdb, it was someone else.)  Anyway, Raul actually does pretty well in basic training but then he fakes a breakdown to get out of serving in Vietnam.  He returns home, knocks up his girlfriend, gets stuck in a go-nowhere job at a grocery store, and eventually he somehow opens up his own dojo.

Anyway, after about an hour or so of Raul being a jerk and hitting Sharon, he reaches the point where he’s contemplating committing a murder/suicide but then he sees a preacher on TV and, the next thing you know, he’s going to his old high school and preaching.  “Yo!  Listen up!” he yells at the students.

It was kind of a predictable film but it was also sincere in its goals and nowhere near as preachy as you might expect given the subject matter.  Tom Silardi and Joy Vogel both gave good performances as Raul and Joy and the film deserve some credit for resisting the urge to use Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth as an easy way to establish that it was taking place in the 60s.  Probably the most interesting thing about this film is that it was obviously made in the wake of the success of The Karate Kid because it spends as much time on the karate as it does on the religion.

Fury to Freedom was an effective, low-budget, and very sincere film.  And now, it’s off of my DVR.

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