After selling his cattle in town, ranch owner Morgan unexpectedly dies, and his foreman Pike has to deliver the payroll to Sonora, despite the perilous journey during which he's followed by many shady characters who want the money.
The El Condor, the fabled Mexican stronghold rumoured to contain Emperor Maximilian's mythical reserves in gold, will attract two adventurous fortune seekers, who with eyes gleaming with desire, will shortly know that only fools rush in.
A master gunfighter teams up with his banjo-playing partner and a Mexican bandit to foil the town leaders of Daugherty, Texas, who want to steal $100,000 from their own bank to buy land that the approaching railroad will cross.
Lee Van Cleef,
Rugged trail boss and reformed criminal Pike promises his honest wealthy employer Morgan that he will venture across the desert to deliver $86,000 dollars in payroll money to a ranch in Sonora, Mexico. Pike makes an uneasy alliance with smooth, yet shifty gambler Tyree in order to successfully complete his dangerous mission. During their perilous trek Pike and Tyree encounter desperate prostitute Catherine and her loyal ace martial artist half-breed companion Kashtok. Meanwhile, ruthless bounty hunter Kiefer and numerous greedy others give dogged chase. Written by
Take a Hard Ride is directed by Antonio Margheriti and written by Eric Bercovici and Jerrold L. Ludwig. It stars Jim Brown, Lee Van Cleef, Fred Williamson, Catherine Spaak and Jim Kelly. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Riccardo Pallottini.
Trail boss Pike (Brown) promises his dying employer Morgan (Dana Andrews) that he will travel across the dessert to deliver $86,000 in payroll money to a ranch in Sonora, Mexico. Forming an uneasy alliance with dandy gambler Tyree (Williamson), Pike quickly realises that many other people are aware of his task and want the money; including Bounty Hunter Kiefer (Cleef).
What do you get if you take a large pan and throw in some Spaghetti and Paella, add some Blacksploitation beef and season with Kung-Fu? The answer is Antonio Margheriti's Take a Hard Ride.
It's a fun movie, even unique in some ways, but it ultimately doesn't add up to much more than a series of action scenes, some good - some poor, glued together by a very ordinary and adventurous screenplay. Cast are hugely watchable, with the leads supported by Western pros Barry Sullivan and Harry Carey Junior, and the Canary Islands location is beautifully utilised. Bonus is the score from Goldsmith, who tinkers with traditional Spaghetti Western strains and adds in his own harmonious grace. Apparently Margheriti rearranged much of the score to suit his own editorial purpose, it's testament to Goldsmith's skills that even though the chronological flow of his piece has been defiled, what exists still marries up superbly with the vistas.
It flopped at the box office and it has over the years been the source of much rib poking, however, from an action stand point it often delivers the goods. Bodies pile up, stunt-men and horses (PETA would go nuts!) fly about everywhere, and explosions are not in short supply. Yes it's poorly written and directed without due care and attention, but you may find it hard to dislike on account of its machismo and oddity value. I mean, if you can't enjoy a Western that has Jim Kelly suddenly turning into Bruce Lee and laying Kung-Fu down on some outlaws? Then entertainment is dead... 6/10
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