Bald Knobber (2019)

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The story of a vigilante group in the 19th Century comes to life in this American historical epic from Michael Dennis Johnson.

When the Civil War came to an end, the areas of Taney and Christian County, Missouri, have been heavily affected by not only the remnants of the war, but things have spiraled out of control. The economy has been failing due to high taxation. The chaos has caused locals to begin to break the law and commit crimes. Some of the locals have had to resort to this in order to feed their families, who have been suffering as a result of the potential level of poverty.

Nathaniel Kinney, a former private in General Grant’s army during the War, has arrived to Taney County in 1883. Disgusted by what has transpired in the days since, he decides to do something about it. He makes an offer to the county leaders to bring law and order back to Taney. With the support of the leaders, a new coalition has formed. Naming themselves the Bald Knobbers, the group led by Kinney, begin to uphold the law and dispense justice. However, when the group begins to bring their brand of justice to neighboring Christian County, things begin to go too far, and tempers begin to flare. However, determined to keep the law and order, Kinney and the Bald Knobbers continue to make sure that law and order are upheld, and it won’t matter who has to die as a result.

Vigilante films are quite an idea to work with. Of course, when it comes to this subgenre of action film, one can think of films like Death Wish, The Punisher, Brotherhood of Justice, and even, Walking Tall. They have all a purpose of dispensing justice in a world of lawlessness and disorder with throwing the book at the law that is supposed to keep that law and order. However, the vigilante film has rarely been done in a historical epic form, let alone one that not many people know about when it comes to American history.

Normally, when one thinks of American historical epics, movies like Glory, The Patriot, and even in some aspect Dances with Wolves come to mind. However, all of those are more noteworthy A-list films while this film may be an indie film, but it is a very good one and really brings out a sense of historical value. Michael Dennis Johnston, who directed and co-wrote the film, really did his research as stated in the film’s opening credit sequence as he wanted to focus on the Bald Knobber movement, which was hailed as of the United States’ largest and bloodiest vigilante movements which spurned over 40 murders in a span of six years with no convictions. Running in at 154 minutes, this is one film that goes for the throat from the Civil War-set opening to the finale with beats of great dramatic performances from its cast.

Nathaniel Kinney, the leader of the Bald Knobbers, is excellently played by Mel Barber. He brings in a performance that can be described as a Civil War-era Buford Pusser with an edge as there are times we see Kinney go a bit far with his brand of justice, thus making some of his fellow Bald Knobbers uncomfortable at times. However, he does prove himself very convincingly as a leader when it comes to bringing some epic speeches that help form and solidify the Bald Knobber movement. For those wondering where the name comes from, it is named after the mountaintop where their meetings would be held, which looked like a bald head.

Bald Knobber is definitely a real American historical epic due to its extensive research by the filmmakers all driven by the excellent performances of its cast, notably Mel Barber as leader Nathaniel Kinney. If you are in the mood for a real epic this, you got one here.

WFG RATING: A

Random Media presents a Bear Creek Productions film. Director: Michael Dennis Johnson. Producer: Michael Dennis Johnson. Writers: Michael Dennis Johnson and Curtis Copeland. Cinematography: Lonnie Howard. Editing: Mark Parham.

Cast: Mel Barber, Angelina Sauber, Dale Green, Laura Fogle, Dakota T. Jones, Keith Thurman, Lee Walker, David Griffin, Michael Freeman, Randy Greer, Austin Michael, Curtis Copeland, Eddie Wood, Debbie Wood.

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