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Following the robbery of a bank in the Wild West a gang gathers around Jack Murphy, their leader. Things go awry when Skinner, Reb, Mathias and the brothers, Bill and Gordon, realize Jack will divide the loot for his own good only. Furious with him, they decide to betray him and it is not long before they take action. They torture him and leave him for dead while his sister is raped and killed. But Jack survives and goes for revenge. Written by
Gianfranco Baldinelli's Italian western Black Jack (1968) is hauntingly dark and violent tale of a bank robbery and revenge. A bunch of thieves rob a bank but feel their leader / mastermind Jack divides the money for his own good. This results some sudden bursts of violence and torture as their ways apart, leaving Jack to wait for his payback time. The premise is quite good, as the theme of vengeance has often been exploited in (these) films, making it look something much safer and more positive than it actually is. Margheriti's film Vengeance is interesting but never manages to express anything worthwhile about revenge and its possible results. Hossein's Cemetery Without Crosses has a great potential and characters, but ends up in rather typical and unsatisfying ending, albeit the film being very interesting visually (scripted by Dario Argento).
Black Jack has several intense and disturbing moments, and the storytelling is very effective, making the 90 minutes pass incredibly fast. There are some segments of fantastic photography in the desert, some poetic images of irreversible violence (mostly the thickening flame on front of the picture) which all make the film little closer to the masterpiece of spaghetti western, Il grande silenzio by Sergio Corbucci, and from the same year. Black Jack certainly doesn't show violence in a good or positive light (unlike Fulci's Four of the Apocalypse, for example) and it must be said it hasn't lost much of its power during these years. Some "infamous" and "shocking" westerns like Cutthroarts Nine (Joaquim Luis Romero Marchent) seem rather pathetic in front of these much more visual, also mentally violent and effective works of the genre.
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