Smokey Banks used to be one of the greatest bull riders in rodeo. But for the last few years this has-been cowboy has been riding the bookie and the bottle more, and taking a far worse beating than any bull ever delivered. Now, through a strange and sudden set of events, he is given an option : go to jail, or be a cowboy teacher at a Boy's Ranch. Saddled with a dozen young boys wild as any bull he ever faced, his mission was simple: teach young Danny (Brock Pierce) how to ride a bull. Very reluctantly, Smokey agrees, not realizing that Danny will be far more of a teacher to him than he ever dreamed. Written by
Actually a good film, possibly great depending on your attitude
Looking at the other reviews posted for this film I can draw some conclusions. 1 - if you are religion-intolerant or filled with hatred for Christianity you will probably not like this movie. 2 - if #1 is your mindset then you probably don't like the sport of bull riding anyhow, which has a strong Christian presence, so you might as well find some something else more suited to you.
By the way, despite what some (another reviewer) believe, bull riding is NOT a sport which is cruel to the animal. I've done it. The wives' tales abound but simply Are. Not. True.
Now that I've gotten past that, I'll talk about the movie itself. This is not really a movie about bull riding, it's a movie about how a terminally ill boy causes a hard-luck bull rider to reassess his life and his attitudes about many things, including how he feels about God. Brock Pierce plays Danny O'Neill, the terminally ill boy who wants to learn to ride a bull, and is really quite good in this role. Michael Biehn plays the role of Smokey, a once-famous bull rider down on his luck. After being arrested for 'borrowing' someone's truck, he's sentenced to teach Danny to ride bull as 'community service'. Smokey originally wants nothing to do with the idea of teaching Danny to ride a bull - but it's either that or go to county jail, so he relents but is not happy at all about teaching Danny.
While Danny is on the bucking machine, his hat comes off, revealing his chemo-caused bald head. Smokey learns now that Danny is very ill and might not survive. With this Smokey's shell begins to crack a bit though his initial reaction is that he can't go through with this, knowing that Danny may be dying. Eventually he changes his mind and continues teaching him.
Along the way he can't help but notice the example Danny sets, though he himself resists any attempts to get him to see Christianity. Danny learns to ride the bull and in fact does so successfully at a junior rodeo. When Smokey finally goes to 'cowboy church' with Danny afterward, as he promised Danny he would, he finds he can't accept God. The idea of someone (Christ) dying for another doesn't ring true to him, and he's mad that if God exists, that he is letting Danny be so sick.
Near the end of the movie, Smokey comes to realize that it is love which would make one person offer up their life in the stead of another, and in an emotional scene, out in a desolate wilderness, he tells God he would give up his life if he could, to save Danny.
Bull riding is a heavily Christian sport, and if you're an atheist or not Christianity-tolerant you are not likely to like the sport itself and you will definitely not like this movie. Find something else more suited to your attitudes. For those who have some heart, for those who enjoy and understand that bull riding has a heavy Christian component, this is a movie you will enjoy.
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