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A Man Called Blade (1977)

Mannaja (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Drama, Thriller | 13 August 1977 (Italy)
A bounty hunter arrives in a mining town and is hired to track down the missing daughter of the town's crippled mayor and learns she has been kidnapped by the mayor's corrupt right-hand-man and a band of outlaws he is secretly working for.



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Complete credited cast:
Sonja Jeannine ...
Salvatore Puntillo ...
Johnny Johnny, Impresario
Antonio Casale ...
Dahlman (as Nino Casale)
Enzo Fiermonte ...
Government Agent
Gerald Merton (as Rick Battaglia)
Aldo Rendine ...
Stagecoach Traveller
Enzo Maggio ...
Sergio Tardioli ...
Sofia Lombardo ...
Lucy Merton (as Sophia Lombardo)
Martine Brochard ...


Arriving in the mining town Suttonville, after claiming the bounty of a outlaw known as Burt Craven, a bounty hunter named Blade (armed with a hatchet instead of a gun) is hired by the town's wheelchair bound mayor McGowan and his corrupt associate Voller to track down McGowan's daughter Debra who has gone missing. Blade is unaware that Voller kidnapped Debra and is secretly working for a group of outlaws who are looting shipment of silver from the silver mines that are run the mine owner McGregor. Caught up in Suttonville's affairs, Blade not only has Voller and the outlaws to deal with, he also goes to settle a score with McGowan (who was responsible for the death of Blade's father) and takes on Voller and his gang who are out to gun him down. Written by Daniel Williamson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sharp shoots, gun and axe with great accuracy!


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

13 August 1977 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

A Man Called Blade  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mannaja is Italian for "Hatchet" (Blade's weapon of choice). See more »


Singer: [Theme song "Wolf"] You're alone. A solitary man. And when the sun goes down, your memories back around with you and your heart is breaking down. This here was your father's land. Nothing bad, you can't pretend. You love justice and you love peace. When the time will come to kill, to destroy who loves to kill and your hand will stop the axe and your conscience will be satisfied. Yes. You're a good man, no one will put you down. Your feel is right is right, down worry man. Keep going, you know ...
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Referenced in The Spaghetti West (2005) See more »


Written by Guido De Angelis & Fabrizio De Angelis
Performed by Cesare De Natale (as Dandylion)
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User Reviews

The spaghetti western genre goes out with a bang...
20 June 2008 | by See all my reviews

By 1977, the spaghetti western was already on its death throes and if I'm not horribly mistaken, Mannaja is the last major release in the genre. These latter day spaghetti westerns are all visibly different from the 67-71 ones in that they tried to push the envelope in different ways. Ironically the vast amount of tired, quickie Django and Sartana clones that sprung in the late 60's weren't the final nail in the coffin. It seems that after westerns like Mannaja the genre had nowhere to go, having explored every nook and cranny of the old west and milked every bit of potential in the process.

Sergio Martino was not a regular spaghetti western director. He made his name through a series of fantastic giallo thrillers in the early 70's (All the Colours of the Dark, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh etc) but he was generally a genre director who dabbled with anything that came his way. As a testament to his talent, he was usually successful, often with stunning results. He had tried his hand on the western once more in the Anthonio De Steffen vehicle Arizona Colt Returns, which was a pleasurable entry but business as usual for the most part. Mannaja is markedly different in that it strives for more. It has ambition and the means to pull it off.

Strangely, Mannaja takes its cue from Enzo G. Castellari's incredible Keoma (or as it was retitled for commercial purposes, Django Rides Again) from one year earlier. Maurizio Merli's Mannaja bears more than a passing resemblance to the dirty and grim looking Keoma played by Franco Nero, there are several beautiful slo-mo shots, a dream-like atmosphere in places, it's quite brutal (a hand is chopped, a woman is whipped, a man gets an axe in his head, old ladies and other innocent bystanders are shot and killed) and the score is very weird by spaghetti western standards and it can be as annoying as Keoma's (although I didn't mind the latter). Just as Keoma, it doesn't shy away from taking risks and luckily it pays off, no least thanks to Martino's skillful directing. There's visual awesomeness to be found throughout the movie. Striking compositions are enhanced by great set design lending a gritty feeling to everything from the dilapidated town to the dirty clothes to the muddy streets. Nature plays a big part in how the movie looks: rain, mud, fog are all used to great effect, the last shootout in the fog adding a surreal, ghost-town quality to it. The look of the first half hour reminded me of Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller for some reason, with a dash of Django. It also appears to be very much influenced by the work of Sam Peckinpah, whom Sergio Martino himself cites as an inspiration. Generally it's equal parts gritty and atmospheric and with enough budget to hold everything on the seams.

Maurizio Merli made his name in the Italian movie business by playing violent Dirty Harry-esquire cops in polizioto crime flicks and was quite successful as a genre actor. He can play the mean machine effortlessly and it's a real pleasure to watch him as a badass bounty hunter here. A real shame that he didn't do more westerns and even more so that he passed away 4-5 years after making this one. The rest of the cast all turn in fine performances.

Mannaja might have come during the twilight of the spaghetti western but it's easily one of the best it has to offer. A must-see for fans.

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