Dir: Robert A. Endelson, 1977
Banned in several countries, Fight For Your Life is a masterstroke of exploitation film making.
Kane (William Sanderson) escapes from prison with two other inmates.
Stealing and murdering their way across America, the trio happen upon a convenience store.
Using the opportunity to rob the place, the bandits are witnessed by a young black girl. They kidnap the girl and force her to take them to her house.
The girl’s family are very religious and church going, with her father being a minister.
A redneck and hyper racist, Kane racially torments the family, singling the father out in particular.
The peaceful preacher has no choice but to go against his principles and fight hate with hate.
The film has been widely condemned for it’s never ending barrage of racial insults and prejudice.
Loathsome and revolting, William Sanderson does a superb job as the racist con, spewing hatred and bile with every word.
But, too much focus is placed on the racism. Kane is a nasty piece of work. A horrible person. Portraying a hate filled character, with the onus on black people, it stands to reason that he is going to use racist language.
It’s not nice and it shouldn’t happen, but, sadly, prejudice against blacks did, and does, happen. This film simply reflects that.
Robert Judd is to be highlighted for appearing in this. Subjected to a constant stream of racial insults and humiliations, it’s a very uncomfortable role for him and, I can only imagine, painful to endure.
Despite its reputation, Fight For Your Life is not overly violent. The raping of the daughter is moderately discreet and, for the majority, appears off screen.
The little violence there is, comes across as rather fake and unbelievable. Blood is depicted as watery and not, ultimately, blood-like.
Being cheaply made, some of the acting isn’t, especially, up to scratch. The boy who gets his head smashed in, is quite noteworthy.
Released on video in Britain in the early days of VHS, Fight For Your Life found its way on to the Director of Public Prosecutions list of “video nasties”, opening it to a potential prosecution for obscenity.
Eventually seen by the BBFC for a video certificate, the censorship body rejected it, outright. The racism and attack on an innocent black family, would be too much for British audiences to take, it was felt. No print has ever been submitted to the board, since, and so, still, remains unavailable to this day.
People get the wrong idea about the film. They are so disgusted by the racism, they can’t see any further. It blinds them to the truth.
Fight For Your Life is NOT a racist film. It doesn’t hate black people, or is anti-black in any way.
Kane is such a rancid and putrid character that not, at any point, can you identify with him or feel sympathy, nor empathy. He shows racism, bigotry and prejudice for exactly what it is; ugly and despicable. If anything, it’s an anti-racist film.
People would do well to remember that.