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  • In 1985, in the city of Toronto Canada, I was a movie extra in "Act of Vengeance". Although the weather was very hot,Charles Bronson and Wilfred Brimley did an outstanding acting job in this HBO film. I watched as both Wilfred and Charles concentrated on their lines while the director made ready the scenes they were to act in. There were very little retakes as the words flowed out of their mouths with no mistakes. Both were very professional actors. I was honoured, while on the set by Mr. Bronson for doing a good job as an extra. He picked up a poster used as a backdrop in one of the scenes and signed his name to it and handed it to me. It was a black and white picture of Charles with the words "For Democracy...Vote Yablonski". I still treasure it in my home. I viewed the film after it came out and found it sad that such an act could have been committed in the USA. The story told here happened in real life, so I was told while on the set of this film. I found that all who were in this film did an outstanding job making it come to life on the big screen, showing the evil lurking and hidden behind politics of those who hold high positions and just how hard the little man must fight for recognition and what he or she needs to be safe in the common work place. Since my first viewing I have watched it many times and will watch it many more. It's a superb film in my eyes, and yes, I have seen myself in the film and am proud to be part of it.

    I might also add, that part of this film was also filmed in a small town called Waterdown Ontario, Located between Hamilton, and Toronto. It was while in Waterdown filming, that Charles signed my backdrop picture.
  • I'm a big Ellen Burstyn fan, so I'll see anything with her. But I didn't have high expectations for this based on the title (sounds like a Steven Seagal actioner) and the cover artwork (looks like a pulpy B-movie, with Ellen's mug thrown in as an afterthought).

    Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised. Ellen was excellent as always, but Charles Bronson was also terrific, as was a young Keanu (spelled Keannu in the credits) Reeves. But the real revelation here is Wilford Brimley as the union boss. What a great bad-ass! For those used to seeing Wilford harp about cholesterol and diabetes, check this one out. You'll realize how much he's wasting his talent by doing those commercials.

    This is a moving human drama with fine performances, captivating direction and a compelling, if occasionally clichéd, script. It's an act of triumph. Eight out of 10 stars.
  • Bronson a union leader?! Yep, he's running for the job as president of the United Mines Union, due to the poor state of the party's image. But he finds it's not going to be easy, as president Tony Boyle (a larger than life Wilford Brimley) will pull out all punches (all) to rid them of the honorable union organizer Jock Yablonski who has the safety of his workers on mind, than say money.

    This Bronson outing (made-for-TV) is far away from what he was constantly working in through the 80s, and stemming from this inspired true story (set in 1969) is a confronting drama defying the odds being fuelled by intense confrontations, inner conflict, devious interests, embezzlement and cold-blooded murder. Its power comes from Bronson's hearty turn, an admirable Ellen Burstyn and a credibly concise script. It remains captivating throughout, holding an agreeable amount of momentum in suspense and intrigue through the campaign, although it won't hold much surprises and the conclusion feels a little short-changed after the stinging climax.

    The sub-plot involving the hired assassins (Robert Schenkkan leading the way) feels at times clumsy and drawn out (mainly due to these people not being professionals), but there's something unnerving lurking underneath it all. Plus Keanu Reeves shows up as one of the killers, and is actually rather good in a minor part.

    Director John MacKenzie lets the story unfold slowly, but manages a tight and focused grip in a conservative style. Plain for some, but well measured for others. Nothing truly stands out (film-making wise from the music to cinematography), but it works in with the tactically stern frame it went for.

    Committed handling throughout.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I grew up in Pennsylvania, and although we were far from coal country, some news was so big, it got around. The Yablonski killings were all over the western end of the state when they happened, but we didn't really understand what was happening behind them. I'm sure some liberties were taken in collapsing events, but this film does a great job of putting the times, the relationships between Big Unions and Big Business in context, and the power of the common man to make, or try to make, things better. The cinematography really caught the gritty world of coal mining, and the areas in which is happens. This was one of the first roles I saw Charles Bronson in, and I thought he was terrific, probably bringing a much deeper sensibility to the part as a former coal miner and, as I understand, a card-carrying member of the United Mine Workers throughout his life. His campaign stops even had some very funny one liners you wouldn't think would work coming out of Il Bruto. I actually checked out some of his other films after seeing this one. The gang that couldn't shoot straight, but obviously eventually did, were such complete idiots you were surprised they managed not to shoot themselves, and were able to kill Yablonski only with Keanu Reeves' help. This film is probably only available at a library, or maybe a video store that doesn't clear out stock once a year. But it's definitely worth watching.
  • In 1969, Joseph 'Jock' Yablonski (Charles Bronson) is finally tipped over the edge when a coal mine disaster is brushed over by the corrupt United Coal Miners Union he firmly believed in. Deciding to run against head man Tony Boyle (Wilford Brimley) for president of the Union, Yablonski soon becomes the target of a sinister murder plot.

    It's a TV movie so it hardly has the production value to really do this "based on a true story" movie complete justice. However, with Bronson and Brimley giving very committed performances, and who in turn are backed up by the excellent Ellen Burstyn as Yablonski's loyal wife, there's humanistic qualities here that make this more than a time filler.

    The murky political intrigue ticks away nicely, the characterisations of the assassins is afforded relative time, and the culmination of the picture strikes both the heart and the head. Yes it is hardly high end film making, and those turned off by dialogue heavy political posturing should probably stay away, but this is a story well worth knowing.

    It got me to read up on the Boyle/Yablonski case, such was the interest born out by this HBO production. Proof positive that TV movies once had something viable to offer the mature film watching public. 7/10
  • I can only imagine how perplexed fans of Charles Bronson were, after seeing at their video store the title of this movie and the box cover art, and discovering when bringing the movie home that the movie is far from an action movie. It's instead a serious drama based on a true story, with Bronson playing a determined (and non violent) man struggling to bring change. And Bronson does pretty well in this serious role - you can believe that this person really cares and is passionate about his quest to bring change. His performance compensates for the fact that the role isn't quite fully written - the character of Jack Yablonski isn't given quite enough time to explain his feelings or motivations. But the movie is well crafted in other areas. The period detail is fine, Wilford Brimley makes for a slimy (but believable) Tony Boyle, and there isn't a boring or tedious moment anywhere in the movie. Though I suspect a book telling of this true life incident would be a lot more informative, the movie is acceptable for those who have a mild interest in the United Mine Workers' Union going-ons in the 1960s.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What a wonderful surprise, Charles Bronsonn actually acts a little in this fine HBO film as union rebel Jock Yablonski whose wish to change the UMW cost him his life. Ellen Burstyn is wonderful as his doomed wife and Wilford Brimley is sinister as corrupt union President Tony Boyle. The guys who killed Yablonski and his family were first class idiots who were immediately arrested. They were the dumbest assassins you can imagine.
  • The world of politics can be a dangerous place, and no one knows this more than real life union-activist Jock Yablonski (Charles Bronson). After successfully defeating the long-standing president of the United Mine Workers in a 1969 election, Yablonski and two of his immediate family members were murdered at night while they slept. Rather than focus on the murders themselves, director Mackenzie tells the story of everyone involved with the crime in three separate, but intertwining stories. We follow the campaign trail of Yablonski, the desperation of Tony Boyle and his cronies, and the hired assassins, getting an eagle eye's view into their lives. Done effectively, this is a very powerful tool in helping the audience associate with the characters, and the situations they find themselves in. Whether it was because of the confines of a made for TV movie or just bad direction I'm not sure, but Mackenzie was not successful in representing all sides evenly, and it was glaringly apparent where his biases lie. All of the acting was solid, with Bronson and Ellen Burstyn playing a very convincing married couple. Wilford Brimley turned in another great performance as the racist, corrupt, and all around dirty president of the Mine Workers' Union, and Keanu acted just as Keanu does, albeit without much screen time. If you're fiercely interested in American politics I would say it's worth checking out. If not, don't bother: go outside and take a walk, or learn how to make a new dish, this is not worth your time. Rating: 21/40
  • rmax3048234 October 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    The story of Jock Yablonsky (Charles Bronson) and his family's fight to overturn the corrupt leader of the United Mine Worker's Union, Tony Boyle (Wilford Brimley).

    It's a curious mixture of strengths and weaknesses. It is, of course, hampered by the plot, which happens to be as true as these "based on a true story" movies get to be. I don't know what conversation Bronson had with his wife (Ellen Burstyn) and his daughter (Carolyne Kava) had before they went to bed on the night of their murders. Nobody does, so the lacunae are filled with plausible exchanges of love and mutual confidence. It heightens the drama anyway. A loving family slaughtered. Suppose they'd had a drunken argument and thrown muffin cups at one another? Not that the assassination itself needs much hype. It's pretty shocking. Three skanks open a window of Yablonsky's well-appointed country house during Christmas, have petty disagreements in whispers, and finally bring themselves to pull the triggers. The air crackles with tension.

    The dialog isn't in any way offensive, and the acting in general is at least up to par. Bronson gives a laid-back performance, and Ellen Burstyn does the most convincing job of all. Maury Chaykin is excellent as the chubbiest, if not the dumbest, of the three or four hoods, constantly bickering over who gets how much and who shoots first.

    There are some good scenes too, besides the shocking executions. Here's Maury Chaykin lying in bed in his shorts, smoking, drinking beer, twirling his borrowed pistol around and going BANG as he points it at objects. One of the objects is his exasperated girl friend and there is, how you say, an accidental discharge? He gapes with the uncomprehending expression of some kind of poleaxed steer as she slumps to the floor with a hole in her belly.

    Another fascinating scene has the leader of the goons, an amateur gun nut, lying in bed with his wife, Ellen Barkin. We've been told he's nuts about her, but she pretends to be asleep while he squeezes her various body parts and gets off by means of what the French call "frottage." But after money is mentioned, Barkin becomes a combination of Delilah and Lady MacBeth. "Come on, honey," she coaxes him, while kissing her way down his ribs, "it won't be so hard. You can kill him in a parking lot."

    The weakness is in the plot itself, which is stuck with an ordinary tale of a man who is (almost) all good being killed by guys who are (entirely) all bad. The narrative is about how Bronson alienates himself from the leaders of the corrupt union, challenges them in an election, and when the rigged results come in, declares that he's going to challenge the election in court. Bronson starts out as just another high-echelon conniver, one of Brimley's tools. But his conversion to rectitude is quick -- too quick. It took a long time for Eva Marie Saint and Karl Malden to turn Marlon Brando around in "On The Waterfront." Here, it takes about two minutes of screen time.

    It would also have been interesting to learn just what "corruption" means in the context of union management. Only one hint is given. Nothing is said about "laundered money," and that's something I've always been curious about. I once left a dollar bill in the pocket of some trousers I washed, but aside from that I'm ignorant. A little frustrating.

    It's strange to see Bronson playing a role like this. He's usually the hero, true enough, but in this movie he gets belted in the stomach and falls to his knees, and at the end he's shot many times. Never once does he make a wisecrack to some overconfident street rat and then clip him on the jaw. There is no speeding car chase, no exploding fireball. Without those things, Bronson is hardly Bronson.
  • This is really a great movie. It wasn't easy but I tracked it down on VHS a while ago. Charles Bronson is always good, even without a gun. Though I will say Quaker oats man as the bad guy gave me a pretty laugh, though he was very good.

    It's sad that something like this really happened. But corruption at the top is unfortunately isn't anything new, look at what's going on now.

    Anyway this is a great movie 10 out of 10, I highly recommend it.

    Does anyone know what the intro song is and who's singing? I really like that song, easily adapted to corporate America too lol


  • First of all this, yes this TV films was more like a genuine Bronson film with a great performance. This is one to watch for everybody. I'm 17 and live in the UK and don't get many Bronson films over here considering he made his great career over in before he did in the great US. The only way i can get Bronson films is one Ebay, and i'm nerely complete of all his films, i have all the great 80's films he did apart from this one. (soon hopefully) And i'll have most of all the 70's ones aswell, on dvd on video.. Why isn't this film and all the 80's and most of the early 70's bronson films on DVD like The Mechanic. Come on people that film needs to be on DVD with a Death Wish box set aswell...

    This film really does work, and as a kid i always wouldn't who that guy was without his mustash, it was the guy nerely unrecognisible. I mean i can tell Bronson in his other 70's films without THE GREAT TASH. Like Hard Times... But in the 80's that was his crown, well and the 70's but without the tash it wasn't really the guy, but still tough.(Like schwarzenegger's crown was his hair like in commando and Clint with his 44 Magnum).

    People watch this great film, this is superb and fantastic action drama film...
  • This could have made a pretty good TV movie. Bronson who was a mine worker when he was younger. I won't add much to what have already said the other users. Only one thing, this film is for an action flicks actor like Bronson, the equivalent of what Norman Jewison's FIST was for Stallone, eight years earlier. Another biography drama involving trade unions, mafia and corruption with the lead character fighting against them.
  • After a coal mine collapses and kills 80 miners in West Virginia a man named "Joseph 'Jock' Yablonski" (Charles Bronson) decides to do something about the greed on the part of the coal companies and the corruption within the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) by running for president of that organization. Naturally, this doesn't make the current president "Tony Boyle" very happy and being the unscrupulous person that he is decides to do whatever is necessary to retain his grip on the union--and the money and power that goes with it. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this film was based on a true story which made major headlines in all of the newspapers across America and this made-for-television film does true justice to it. Of course, being a made-for television film it has some inherent restrictions which sometimes lessen the overall entertainment value but all things considered this picture captured the basics rather well and for that reason I have rated it accordingly. Slightly above average.
  • ACT OF VENGEANCE is a 1986 TV movie, based on the true story of a man who stood up to a coal miner's union in 1969, accusing them of corruption and becoming the new president in the process. Unfortunately, his stand against his former colleagues made him plenty of enemies, some of whom decided to have him eliminated.

    For the most part, this film plays out exactly as you'd expected a television movie to. It's not an action film at all - Bronson is more of a political figure than a hero here - but it doesn't really cut it as a thriller or drama either. I appreciate that it's a true story - that's the only thing it has going for it - but as a film it's pretty much a failure, with the story particularly lacking interest.

    The story starts out well but around the halfway mark it really starts to plod. There's way too much of the drawn-out, back-and-forth scenes of the would-be assassins attempting to complete their job. Such moments are quickly tiresome as is the unusual way that some of the scenes involving these murky murderers are played for laughs. The worst parts of the movie are a couple of ill-advised and excruciating sex scenes between a youthful Ellen Barkin and the guy playing her husband. The producers do well to cast recognisable and reliable faces in supporting roles (including Wilford Brimley, Ellen Burstyn, Hoyt Axton, Maury Chaykin, and a young Keanu Reeves) but this is nevertheless one of Bronson's worst.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is based on real events and follows the story of the union for coal miners and the politics, greed, and dishonesty involved. When a mine explodes in West Virginia and many miners are killed the president of the union goes down and makes a speech about how it wasn't the unions fault. One of his men gets fed up with his lack of humanity for the miners and he runs against him for president so he can once again give the union back to the workers. The president of course is crooked and hires a young man to kill him. The young man hires a couple of thugs and goes out to complete his mission, and the politics of the game all come back and catch up with these crooks in the end.

    I really love Charles Bronson and had never seen this movie before. It is a different style of acting for Bronson and there is no gun in his hand. He is actually a sweet innocent man in this film. This movie had a great story based on real events. It is hard to pull such a movie off and most times they are never perfect to watch. You cant really add juicy events that didn't happen and you can never tell the whole story and do it justice. This story and the truths behind these events are great and this movie couldn't pack in all the details into a feature film. They did a great job none the less.

    I must say I loved the cast which featured heavyweights Bronson, Wilford Brimley (playing a bad guy - the crooked union president), Ellen Burnstyn as Bronsons wife and Hoyt Anxton and Ellen Barkin playing smaller roles and also a very young Keanu Reeves in one of his earliest roles, perhaps his first I am not sure.

    I hated the song the movie started out with, that was one of the worst things, and I admit it was hard to accept the ending, even though it was based on real events, it still wasn't the ending I wanted. It was one of those movies that spends the last five minutes making you read what happened to everyone, and you kind of wanted to see some of it happen.

    I liked the film quite a bit, its a good little drama...I give it 6 out of 10 stars.