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The Weekend Western: The Bounty Killer April 6, 2008

Posted by Ian W in : Film Reviews, DVD Reviews, Westerns , trackback

This is a decent little spaghetti western from Eugenio Martín, who went on to make the Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee monster-on-a-train flick, Horror Express. Rather than the usual wide open vistas the film concentrates on one settlement, too small to really be called a town. Luke Chilson, a bounty hunter is looking for an escaped bandit, José Gómez, and figures he’ll come calling on his sweetheart, Eden, who he believes helped him escape in the first place.

The townsfolk are less than happy to see Chilson, not only don’t they like the way he makes a living but they also see Gómez as something of a local hero, who’s been unfairly treated by the law. When Gómez shows up the locals help him get the upper hand, only to find he really is as evil as they’d been told. He brutally beats Chilson and ransacks the town and when he’s joined by his gang the people realise their only hope is to free the captive bounty hunter.

Martin’s film is high on atmosphere and short on action, but the build up is well handled, with the tension rising to the bullet filled dénouement. Richard Wyler isn’t a very charismatic lead but his performance is solid enough, and Chilson is a man of few words.

It’s in Gómez that the film has a genuine star turn, Tomas Milian once again showing what an entertaining villain he can be. Gómez is a much darker character than Cuchillo in The Big Gundown and Run, Man, Run but he’s far from a standard villain, there’s an element of self loathing about him, as he deliberately turns his friends in the town against him.

There’s an excellent brawl between the two leads, with all the violence you’d expect from a Euro-oater. Stelvio Cipriani provides an entertaining score, with more than a touch of Morricone to it. All in all this is a solid western with Milian’s performance putting it a cut above the norm.

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