True Action: Beyond the Law
Welcome to another edition of True Action.
Our True Action feature takes a look at movies that were based on actual events… this time out we’ll take a look at Beyond the Law starring Charlie Sheen, Linda Fiorentino and Michael Madsen.
- The Movie: In the film, Sheen plays Dan Saxon, a cop who had a rough upbringing. He was raised by an abusive uncle, who was a cop. Saxon is selected to go deep undercover with a biker gang known as the Jackals. The leader of the Jackals is named Blood (played by Michael Madsen). The Jackals are true outlaws, trafficking drugs and guns. Saxon is tutored in the motorcycle gang culture by a mechanic who is friendly with The Jackals, Virgil. Virgil helps Dan become Sid, a true blue biker, claiming to be from a gang of his own out of Cleveland, Ohio known as The Pythons. In the movie we see Sheen deal with his own dark past and the criminal world he has immersed himself in. To add another wrinkle to the story, Sid/Saxon falls in love with a reporter (played by Linda Fiorentino) who has been tagging along with The Jackals for a story she was working on. Beyond the Law featured Sheen and Madsen at their best in my opinion and as the movie ends Virgil provides a voice over saying the events of this film are true and only the names had been changed.
- The True Story: The movie was based on a story published in Playboy magazine (for those that read it for the articles) in July of 1981. The character in the story is named Dan Black, and the actual Dan Black was one of the technical advisors on the film and also was one of the extras. To add to the film’s realism, a biker gang out of Arizona, The Dirty Dozen, also served as technical advisors. The only major difference between the true story and the movie is the time that elapsed. In the movie, Sid gets pretty close to Blood in a short amount of time, where the actual undercover agent, Dan Black, took 18 months before he got that close to the top of The Jackals, but that is to be expected when you are trying to make a movie’s run time under 2 hours.
- The Law Suit: Playboy was actually sued for the article “Undercover Angel” by Lawrence Linderman, that the Beyond the Law screenplay was based on. The plantiffs’ complaint was the article and I quote… “defamed all wives of members of the Oakland and Richmond chapters of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club” by its descriptions of alleged sexual activities of “Hell’s Angels brides” and “mommas.” The article described an “Angel’s wedding” at Clear Lake, California as followed the next morning by assorted sexual activities between the bride and Hell’s Angels members other than her husband, and stated that Angels beat up their “mommas” unless they agree to perform unusual sexual acts.” The case was eventually dismissed, but if that was not enough legal talk for you click here for the full case.