Title: Brotherhood of Justice
Summary: The eponymous “Brotherhood of Justice” starts out as a well intention’d group of teenagers taking a stance against crime and drug use happening in their high school, but dissolves into much darker territory quite quickly.
Tagline: In this town if you deal or steal, you die… That’s a promise from the Brotherhood.
Note: This was a television movie that aired on May 18th, 1986. It’s 32 years old today. Also, you can find it uploaded to YT, if you wanna watch it.
In my continuing quest to be the world champion of Trivial Pursuit: Kiefer Sutherland Edition (Announcer Voice: “She was the only one playing.”) I figured we’d delve into yet another one of his films. This one isn’t as well known as others; granted, quite a few of his films are terrible and/or forgettable, so there were plenty to choose from.
But no. No, I chose Brotherhood of Justice.
Back when the internet was new™ and I was just beginning to use eBay to amass a collection of VHS tapes of his films, I stumbled into Brotherhood of Justice. Partly because in the lead role is none other than Keanu Reeves, another actor who basically ruled my pre-teen years via movies. (Wyld Stallyns forever!) Anyway, here is a film that has two of my favorite actors ever in it, was filmed in Santa Cruz, CA, and aunt Becky from Full House, too? SIGN ME UP!
Over the years, with both Reeves and Sutherland becoming much more higher profile in terms of careers, the packaging on this film has become absolutely bat shit bonkers. Brotherhood of Justice seems to be included on those “14 movies on one disc!” collections you find in the reduced sales bins at Kmart or Walmart. And it’s always marketed as a vigilante film — which it is — but then the packaging artist uses photos of them from, say, when they were in their mid-20s and it’s an outright lie. Or they use photos from The Matrix or thereabouts and 24 and I’m like literally standing in the aisle, pointing and screaming “LIES! ALL LIES!”
To explain, I must start from the beginning. The television film, which is what this is so don’t go expecting anything spectacular production-wise, is based on true events. In 1984, a group of young males formed “The Legion of Doom” at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, Texas. A group of privileged white boys from wealthy backgrounds decided to become their own justice system and, duh, went way overboard and really, this might as well be set in 2018, things haven’t fucking changed.
Anyway, you can read more about that here and here. As part of their sentences, the members of “The Legion of Doom” were not allowed to be involved with or sell rights to their story. Did that stop Hollywood from capitalizing on the story? Nope. I’m currently recapping a fictionalized version, so obviously not.
As I said before, when both actors’ careers took off, this one was dragged out of the vault and received weird packaging to capitalize (yet again) on people (like me) who liked their work. You can see it also (for a time) received a weird title change — High Voltage — which I cannot explain. I can’t find anything online to tell me why they titled it that, either.
BUT. I can tell you that the photos on the backside of the VHS box (photo on the right) come from Point Break, Flashback (at least I think so? It’s not Flatliners) and that bottom one of Keanu is from Permanent Record (which was filmed in the city of my birth and I promise it, too, will be recapped in the future.) So basically NONE OF THE PHOTOS ON THE BOX are images from the actual television film. LIES! ALL LIES!!!
Even the DVD artwork is all lies. It may be titled Brotherhood of Justice on my copy, but I’m pretty sure the photograph of Sutherland is from Flatliners and the one of Keanu could be River’s Edge, though I’m not certain. Still lies. Still has zero to do with the film.
Okay, moving forward, I should add that in addition to Lori Loughlin, Billy Zane (when he still had his own real hair) shows up, and also Gary Riley, who played Charlie Hogan in Stand By Me. (Another 50 billion points for me in Trivial Pursuit: Kiefer Sutherland Edition!) It was filmed in Apatos, CA, in Santa Cruz, too, and features scenes at the Boardwalk. It’s a much different feel, the Boardwalk scenes, compared to the ones in The Lost Boys.
Here, just watch the trailer:
Without further adieu, Brotherhood of Justice.