“Famine and murder
Beside from within,
The vultures gather
-Black Label Society
The chainsaw wasn’t the only weapon used to massacre in Texas. This past Sunday, via Tack Donaher, my “Gonzo” Waco field reporter in the thick of it, relayed a violent showdown between leather clad bikers, members of the Bandidos and Cossacks, at a restaurant oddly named Twin Peaks (no good can come from that). A melee ensued, where brass knuckles, chains, knives, and guns were utilized between the rival gangs before turning their deadly aim to local law enforcement responding on scene. The end result found 9 people dead, 18 hospitalized, and approximately 170 cuffed & stuffed, with a $1 million bond each on their incarcerated heads. Tack relayed that cops were assembled at different points and deputies were brandishing Pump guns at the gates of the courthouse, preparing for a potential showdown with the barbarous bikers reminiscent of an old western flick.
With the dust settling in the hot Texas sun, the heat is still climbing as rival bikers from local chapters have aligned with one purpose…kill uniformed police officers. With danger imminent, a good undercover cop to infiltrate the gangs would provide valuable intel to authorities to shut the “clubs” down to curb another bloodshed. Undercover operations, if the cop is believable, is an invaluable asset to all. Today’s feature, Beyond the Law (1993), explores the world of undercover operations within a ruthless biker gang.
A troubled deputy who has work strife when not dealing with his past, Dan Saxon, Charlie Sheen of Navy Seals (1990), is canned by the crooked Sheriff Prescott, Rip Torn of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004). Before Saxon can claim his first unemployment check, he is recruited by Agent Conroy Price, Courtney B. Vance of Hamburger Hill (1987), for undercover work. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office and the Special Investigation Division (SID), wants Saxon to infiltrate the seedy world of dope dealin’ and gun running. Saxon fails to find his groove, botches up his initial operation, and is taken under the wing by mechanic/biker Virgil, Leon Rippy of Maximum Overdrive (1986). Virgil, in the role of a mentor like Mr. Miyagi was to Daniel son, tutors Saxon on motorcycles, the biker code, assisting with cultivating a legit backstory/biker look (Sheen will never be mistaken for Zakk Wylde) for his protégé’s new alter ego, Sid (get it?). Saxon, um Sid– now locked, cocked, & ready to rock, integrates himself with the notorious 1%ers gang, the Jackals, after earning the trust of Blood, Michael Madsen of Donnie Brasco (1997), in hopes of securing state evidence against the outfit.
If this special duty wasn’t enough stress on Saxon already, he falls hard for photojournalist, Renee, Linda Fiorentino of The Last Seduction (1994). Renee is writing a book on the Jackals and is unaware Saxon is Sid, Sid is Saxon…the old Einhorn is Finkle, Finkle is Einhorn routine. Leading a double life of lies and half-truths, eventually takes its toll on the psyche of Saxon. He slowly loses his grip on reality, victim to an identity crisis, as he falls deeper into the downward spiral of nefarious criminal activity against his better judgment. In order to maintain the trust of the gang, Saxon must up the ante by committing more dangerous and abhorrent crimes to ensure his cover is not blown.
Will he survive? Will his cover be blown? Well, park your chopper for a small spell of 110 minutes, grab your old lady, and find out for yourself.
Beyond the Law is a HBO made for cable movie that debuted in May of ’94, written/directed by Larry Ferguson of Highlander (1986). Law is the biographical account of undercover agent, Dan Black, and his 18 month undercover sting in the mid-70s, riding with the Hells Angels (roughly ten years after Hunter S. Thompson published the evil nature of the gang). Black’s story was originally reported in the article, “Undercover Angel,” by Lawrence Linderman, in Playboy’s July 1981 issue. Black also served as a technical advisor and casted as an extra on Law. Other technical advisors included the Arizona biker gang, the Dirty Dozen, which helped the overall authenticity of the production, and lauded by cops and bikers for Law’s realism and astute attention to detail.
Sure Law has some dizzy dialogue, moments that are a bit off kilter due to ham acting, but overall, Beyond the Law is a solid flick with charismatic characters, tough looking bikes, and beautiful shots of the southwest terrain. Motorcycle film fans should like this entry to the subgenre, and it’s nice to Sheen before he claimed he was a warlock drinking tiger’s blood, and Madsen when he was still cool before he became a “Z” movie actor just to make ends meet. Come back to us Mr. Blonde. Although there have been countless movies from Brando’s The Wild One (1953), Roger Corman’s productions pumping them out in the late 60s, and Viet Nam Vets becoming outlaw biker clubs in the exploitative 70s, it’s a hit or miss at the accuracy towards capturing the lifestyles of an active member.
I suppose unless you live your life as a member of a motorcycle gang, the rest of the world just doesn’t understand. Well, Waco Police seem to understand, standing the their ground while they will assist in painting an accurate picture of what it means to be a member of a renegade biker gang, unfortunately it might just happen to be in the obituaries.
- Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker, film/music historian, and can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rick.baldwin.568
- Twitter Rick Baldwin@rickbaldwin79 and firstname.lastname@example.org