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.
After the Civil War, ex-Confederate soldiers heading for a new life in Mexico run into ex-Union cavalrymen selling horses to the Mexican government but they must join forces to fight off Mexican bandits and revolutionaries.
Tom's parents are killed by Mexican outlaws after their leader (Van Cleef) rapes his mother as he watched. He sets out to exact revenge and is ultimately helped by a successful gold prospector who has been robbed by the same outlaws.
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
The stars of "Three the Hard Way" reunite for this enjoyable if not classic Western. Jim Brown plays Pike, a tough, honourable trail boss who gives his word to his dying boss (Dana Andrews) that he will take $86,000 in payroll money to a ranch in Sonora, Mexico. Naturally, when people get wind of this large cash windfall, greed completely takes over, and various groups form to try to get that money. One such interested individual is smooth gambler Tyree (Fred Williamson, in a delicious performance), who is the first to accompany Pike on the journey. Along the way they also hook up with a hard-luck prostitute, Catherine (Catherine Spaak) and her half-breed / martial artist companion Kashtok (Jim Kelly). Among the money hungry antagonists in this story is sly, sleazy bounty hunter Kiefer (Lee Van Cleef), who realizes Pike was at one time a wanted man.
The cast, under the guidance of Italian director Antonio Margheriti, look like they're having a fine time, and that feeling is infectious. The reliable Brown has a relaxing low key presence, and he and Williamson continue to have good chemistry. Kelly really is quite good in the role of the mute Kashtok. Van Cleef, who's given his own harmonica-based "theme", is fantastic, as could be expected. You're never quite sure what to expect next from Kiefer. Spaak is touching, Harry Carey Jr., Robert Donner, Charles McGregor, and Leonard Smith offer some amusing comedy relief, and Barry Sullivan is an entertaining villain as crooked lawman Kane. Hal Needham, the films' stunt coordinator and second unit director, appears uncredited as Garmes.
Excellent location shooting in the Canary Islands and a zesty music score by Jerry Goldsmith add to the fun. The action scenes are first rate and exciting, and Brown and Williamson have a pretty intense fight near the end, which is soon followed by a truly impressive set piece.
In summary, "Take a Hard Ride" is a solid, well done Western that should satisfy fans of the genre.
Seven out of 10.
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