Forced by personal circumstances, Marshal Chris Adams recruits a writer and five prisoners to help him eliminate a gang of Mexican bandits.Forced by personal circumstances, Marshal Chris Adams recruits a writer and five prisoners to help him eliminate a gang of Mexican bandits.Forced by personal circumstances, Marshal Chris Adams recruits a writer and five prisoners to help him eliminate a gang of Mexican bandits.
Unlike your classic westerns where the hero is infallable and can shoot the dandruff off a cockroach at 100 yards, this presents a realistic protagonist: a man who is troubled by questions of morality, one who doesn't always have the perfect plan, one who makes some pretty bad judgements and has to pay the price.
There are some real gems of dialogue that illustrate this human factor, delivered brilliantly by Lee Van Cleef in the role of Chris.
A priest says: "God works in mysterious ways."
Chris retorts: "Yeah, he confuses the heck out of me, too."
And throughout the film we get similar insight into the soul of a man who, despite his decades of experience, still doesn't have any answers--at least none that he can convince himself about, despite his bravado. For that reason alone, I rate this as one of my favourite westerns. Like the aforementioned UNFORGIVEN, this is one of the rare westerns that shows us what real life is about, not comic book goodguy/badguy stuff.
I can only assume that's why this film doesn't seem to be well received. The earlier MAG7 films seemed to be a clearcut war between right & wrong, whereas MAG7 RIDE gives us a war between two different forms of insanity. This presents a much more challenging story to follow. Viewers might be confused at how a "good guy" can leave his friends to die, or how he doesn't fight fair. But to me--and maybe to you--it gives the story a lot more substance. It also makes the story very unpredictable right from the beginning, and as a result it's one of the most suspenseful westerns I've seen.
A word about Stefanie Powers: FREAKIN AMAZING. Good golly miss molly, I didn't know she could act! If you think all she can do is "Hart to Hart" you gotta check this film out for her performance alone. It's a tough role, because she plays the emotional character amidst a backdrop of cold, leathery gunslingers. This formula is nothing new for western heroines; however I've noticed in other films the emotional heroine is too melodramatic, reducing her to the absurd. Stefanie, on the other hand, delivers the perfect subtle performance: very human yet not hysterical. She's smart, wise (in many cases wiser than any other character)... and I gotta say it... what a looker! You'll find your eyes glued to her in every scene.
A final note, for anyone who notices this sort of thing: horses. As with all old westerns we see a fair number of horses getting thrown around. I went back & watched these scenes in slowmo, and I'm pretty sure that these were trained horses who fell without harm. Unlike RETURN OF THE MAG7 which was absolutely brutal (in one case you see a trip wire pop up, sending a 40mph, 2000lb horse onto its head--I doubt that horse ever got up again), these horses always fall to the side and roll safely. It always sucks when you learn how many horses are killed in these old westerns, but this film seemed to be pretty tame in that respect. Well, enough of that. The bottom line is I really enjoyed this film, and if any of this review made sense to you, I think you'll really like it, too. Go Ride(!) to your nearest video store and check it out. (gawd that was a cheezy line. Maybe I'll edit it out later)
- Jan 29, 2010