7/10 - Not exactly Unforgiven or Rio Bravo but still a worthwhile watch for any western fan.
Young Guns (1988)
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7/10 - Not exactly Unforgiven or Rio Bravo but still a worthwhile watch for any western fan.
The choice to make Billy a psychopathic killer, whether by Emilio Estevez's interpretation or the director's is not well supported by historical facts, but Emilio's insane giggle after each killing strongly suggests it.
In the context of the times, within a lawless county that at the time was as large as Connecticutt, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont combined, men often settled things with a gun and violence, and Billy was definitely a product of those times.
One glaring mistake, and one made often in Billy the Kid movies was John Tunstall's real age, which was 24, not 55 as Terrence Stamp (I'm being charitable) appears to be in the film. While Billy was loyal to the man that gave him honest work, I don't think he'd be perceived as a father figure. Nonetheless, the scene at Tunstall's home where he asks Billy to read for him did portray the fact he was quite literate as his letters to Gov. Wallace prove.
The scene where Billy kills Henry Hill in the outhouse is pure fabrication. There was a Tom Hill that rode with Jessie Evans, but he was killed later by an Cherokee Indian when Tom and Jessie tried to rob a sheep drover, John Wagner. Legend did have Billy responsible, but most accounts tagged the notorious Jessie Evans for that mishap.
The Five Day Battle, one of the most famous in the west, was done reasonable well. Col Dudley did get involved in the fray, and brought a six pounder howitzer and a Gatling Gun with him. His intent, while he denied it was to "even the odds", which meant to give the Murphy-Dolan gang a 2 to 1 advantage. However, the gun was NOT used to kill McSween, but to intimidate McSween's men housed in two other buildings in Lincoln.
McSween was killed trying to escape the conflagration, but had waited too long after Billy led a diversion to draw their fire. Many of the soldiers were shown also firing at the McSween home, but little evidence supports that possibility. However, Dudley's positioning of his men alongside Dolan's made it impossible for McSweens's men to return fire for fear of hitting a soldier that would have resulted in Dudley firing his cannon and Gatling Gun.
Also, on this point, the soldiers of Fort Stanton would have been hard pressed not to get involved with all the guns going off. These were battle tested veterans, many of whom knew Murphy and Dolan as they both were mustered out at Fort Stanton, and Murphy had a store at the fort years earlier and no doubt got drunk with some of them.
The character of L. G. Murphy was perfectly cast with Jack Palance. You never had any doubt this was a bad dude. However, at the time of the battle, Murphy suffered from Cancer of the bowels, and was singlehandedly drinking up his saloon's profits. Dolan was by then the man in charge, and an even nastier man than his ex-boss.
The one point of departure that had me completely aghast was the needless peyote scene. Unless, true to the times, we had to have a "drug scene", where were they going with this? Others have commented on the music, and I must say, when playing the DVD in its intro mode, the replaying of that dreadful song is enough to make one hit the mute button. One of the extras that I appreciated is a documentary of Billy the Kid, which does correct some of the deviations in the movie.
One place they did get things right was in the characterization of Buckshot Roberts by the late Brian Keith, one of my favorites. Buckshot got his name from a load of same that shattered his shoulder making it impossible for him to raise his rifle above his waist and Keith mimicked that perfectly.
There were other inaccuracies to be sure, but I have covered the most glaring. And of course most of you are not watching this as western history, I trust. Faults aside, this is still one of the most realistic and accurate portraits of the 1870's in New Mexico.
This modernized "Billy the Kid" gang bang delivers its promised gunslinging action. But, that's about it.
"Young Guns" only boasts authentic pretense. They have great hair and show off some butt cheeks. But, the "Old Guns" making cameos are better. Growing old gracefully, handsome Patrick (son of John) Wayne (as Pat Garrett) blows everyone out of the water. There are guns galore, but few females. The soundtrack rocks and the camera is grainy. In short, this is a western from the 1980s that stays there.
**** Young Guns (8/10/88) Christopher Cain ~ Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen
The picture is based partially on actual events. These deeds are the following: Billy(Emilio Estevez) became a cowboy in Lincoln County(New Mexico)for cattleman Tunstall(Terence Stamp) along with a young group(Kiefer Sutherland,Charlie Sheen,Lou Diamond Phillips,Dermot Mulroney,Casey Siemaszko). Tunstall was supported by lawyer McSween(Terry O'Quinn). But Tunstall was murdered by rival cattleman Murphy(Jack Palance) and started the Lincoln County War. Billy seeks revenge for his death and he converted an outlaw and nasty gunfighter with a price on his head. Bonney and his gang pull off a hot pursuit against the enemies. Billy, his band and McSween were besieged but he went out firing his gun and made his escape. The Kid was caught and convicted of killing and sentenced to be hanged ; though shackled foot and hand , he managed to getaway from prison by shooting dead the deputies guarding him. Pat Garret(Patrick Wayne), a former friend, was elected sheriff and set off in pursuit to capture him and on 1881 tracked at Fort Sumner and there shot him dead by surprise. Legend says that Billy murdered 21 men in his 21 years of life but is really thought to be much less.
Idealistic rancher John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) harbours a plan to recruit the wild and reckless youths of the Wild West to work on his Nebraska ranch. By showing them the care and patience they've never known, he soon gets these seemingly undesirable youths to become conscientious and hard-working ranch-hands, and even provides them with enough basic education to read and write. The plan falls apart when a rival rancher, Lawrence G. Murphy (Jack Palance), hires a gang of desperadoes to kill Tunstall. Following his death, Tunstall's young workers are determined to avenge their mentor. Initially they set about gaining their revenge legally, working as dedicated deputies out to nail those responsible for his murder. But their approach to the job proves so violent and trigger-happy that they themselves are quickly branded as outlaws. Under the leadership of the most hot-headed of their number William Bonney (Emilio Estevez), the youths leave a trail of corpses across the west as they track down their enemies. Soon Bonney earns the nickname Billy The Kid, and he and his gang of "young guns" become the most feared gunslingers around, hunted by the law and the lawless alike.
Young Guns helped to launch quite a few careers. Estevez had already done some decent films prior to this one (Repo Man, The Breakfast Club and Stakeout spring to mind), but this was the first time that he was given the opportunity to grab a role by its throat. Among the many others making a name for themselves are the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulrooney and Casey Siemaszko. Meanwhile, seasoned old pros like Stamp and Palance provide the kind of expert support that they've done throughout their careers. While the pounding rock score and Brat-pack casting might provoke head-aches among western purists, it makes the film lively and energetic. The shootouts become increasingly stylized as the film draws to its blood-spraying conclusion. This stylization might be off-putting for some, but for others it adds to the film's sense of confident, over-the-top enjoyment. Young Guns is a fairly successful action film which definitely puts the "wild" back into the "west".
After the killing of Tunstall by Murphy's henchmen, the Regulators and Billy hit on all cylinders in extracting revenge for the slaughter of their benefactor. The Regulators are branded as outlaws, and the "legal forces" of Murphy attempt to pare them down to nothing. This leads to a final shootout on the streets of Lincoln, and very few of the original Regulators escape, which leads to the sequel of "Young Guns," appropriately called "Young Guns II." The cast of young and upcoming Hollywood stars include Emilio Estevez as Billy, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, Lou Diamond Phillips, Casey Siemaszko, and Dermot Mulroney.
One final note: the DVD includes as part of its special features section a Trivia Track, which flashes western facts and information about the stars or the characters being portrayed on screen without detracting from the viewing of the film. This is worth seeing and owning.
After the house is set on fire, Chavez escapes and somehow sneaks right past the men outside. Billy and his gang exit the house guns a blazin' right in front of a Gatling gun the Army has brought which mysteriously is not used. Chavez rides back with 3 horses, rides right through the men outside, jumps the horses over a barricade, and Billy and Doc somehow manage to mount the horses and ride right through the men down the street with not one shot fired.
Then to top it all off, the lawyer emerges from the house and the Army pumps about 100 bullets into him with the same Gatling gun that for some reason they didn't use on Billy and his gang. It gets better, Billy then rides back, stops in the middle of the street, pops a cap into Murphy, and then rides off with no shots fired at him. Of course the gang then just rides off into the sunset, why would the US Army bother to pursue?
This was a ridiculous, unbelievable ending and completely ruined the entire movie.
Although the movie is very well made, it never really explores the potential of the plot, relying instead on cliches to entertain us. It also seems completely confused in its portrayal of the main character. Is William Bonney a homicidal maniac or a fiercely loyal man out to avenge the death of a father figure? Is he a caustic head-strong youth or a steely smooth-talking leader? Depending on the scene, you can take your pick. He's clearly supposed to be a sympathetic anti-hero, but this is accomplished only by turning his antagonist into a cartoonishly evil villain, portrayed in perfectly predictable manner by Jack Palance. The shootout scenes are nicely filmed, but as the movie progresses they move more and more towards standard western cliche.
The strongest point of this movie is the relationship of the characters played by Sutherland and Estevez. Doc is strongly attracted to Billy the Kid and admires his strength of character at the same time that he fears him and is repulsed by his murderous actions. Both actors do an excellent job trying to pull this off in spite of the limited development which the script allows. This and the support of a very competent cast makes the film worth watching but not necessarily worth going out of your way for.
The brat pack of gunmen consists of Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez), Dick Brewer (Charlie Sheen), Dirty Steve (Dermot Mulroney), Doc Scurlock (Kiefer Sutherland), Chavez y Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Charley Bowdre (Casey Siemaszko). These young men are a bunch of misfits and gunmen that are gathered under the guidance of English cattle rancher John Tunstall (Terence Stamp). They work and protect his ranch and economic interests and John Tunstall gives the young gunmen food, shelter and an education in return.
The movies main villain is the Irishman Lawrence G. Murphy (played by western movie veteran Jack Palance), whom also is a rancher and merchant and the natural rival to John Tunstall. The rivalry goes bad and John Tunstall is murdered and the movie turns into a tale of revenge. Billy the Kid's gang is deputised after meeting lawyer Alexander McSween (Terry O'Quinn). They were young and inexperienced but they were the only men with guts enough to challenge the terror of Lawrence Murphy, whom had a huge gang following him. The young gunmen takes on the name The Regulators as they ride out to arrest some of the murderers in Murhpy's gang. But hot-headed Billy wants instant justice and starts to murder his enemies and the Regulators are stripped of their badges. Despite becoming outlaws the Regulators keep hunting down Murphy's men while bounty hunters and law men are closing in on them.
The movie is filled with cool and creative shooting scenes, the dialogue is fast and saucy and often really memorable. The movie has a fast pace and there if the movie had been directed by Peter Jackson it would have been 3 times 3 hours long. Young Guns is more fun than your old John Wayne / Clint Eastwood movies. Funny fact is that: Pat Garrett is played by John Wayne's son Patrick Wayne.
The cast is brilliant and Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jack Palance and Emilio Estevez does some of their best work of their careers. The movie doesn't go deep and rarely scratches the surface and at times the dialogue feels more cool than realistic. This western has everything, it's an adventure, it has comedic elements, it's action and it has even got some romance in it. The movie is about friendship and going against the odds as the men keep challenging themselves to grow.
It's a very entertaining movie, It doesn't compare to some of the old Spaghetti westerns out there but it doesn't try either. Young guns was a new brand of Western that we hadn't really seen before. It doesn't follow the real story of Billy the Kid correctly either. There are some fabrications of the truth here and there, but Young Guns come in all guns blazing and it does it with a big grin on it's face. The movie came out when the Western genre was more or less dead and buried, but the movie did pretty well despite scoring bad reviews and it helped revitalise the dead genre a bit.
I've seen more than 100 western movies in my days but I still think that this is the most exciting western movie out there, maybe not the best but definitely one of the few that I can watch over and over again. Movie fans... Mount Up!
There's a few reasons why this DVD is so cheap. (A) The quality for a DVD is pretty poor (B) The movie isn't that rewatchable. I hadn't seen it for maybe 10 years and remembered it being way better than it was this time. The only reason I can see for this is due to the star factor. On the DVD they keep going on about how cool the cast is, and back in 1988 they were, problem is nowadays they aren't really still at that elite level.
Charlie Sheen- Is now a sleazy laughing stock
Emilio Estevez- Never did anything of note really after this, except "Young Guns 2"
Lou Diamond Phillips- Also no longer cool, except when he appeared in "24" last season
Kiefer Sutherland- Still cool, but he was wussy in this movie and shattered my Jack Bauer image that he's worked so hard on
If you don't know, the movie is the story of "Billy The Kid", a renegade who went on a killing spree in the old west to avenge the death of a man who took him in and looked after him. The movie has it's moments, and Estevez as "Billy" and Sutherland as "Doc are solid, but there's not much else on offer. Has aged badly, for memory though I think the sequel was much better, so I'll have to go back and see that.
The great effect of this film is how it mixes exciting Western action with comedy and boyish charm. Each actor plays their part as it is meant to be played, nothing special but still exceptional. Each character also has their defining traits that make them individually likable. One of the most lovable is Doc (Kiefer Sutherland) who is great with the steel, but also claims to be a poet, even though all of his poems are slightly tweaked versions of classic poems by acclaimed authors. Lastly, we are given a wonderful, almost-evil villain played wonderfully by the Western legend, Jack Palance.
This film, being made just before the 1990s, contains new comedic elements for the genre, but is also quite relatable to the classic, beloved Westerns of earlier decades. It doesn't look like other 1980s films aesthetically; it looks more like a technicolor 1950s Western, and it is very refreshing. The film is not necessarily under-watched by Western fans, but does not receive the acclaim it deserves. It's easily one of the most fun Westerns of the last three or four decades.
The rest are more bona fide brat packers such as Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Lou Diamond Phillips, Kiefer Sutherland accompanied by a rock score. However there is also room for western veterans like Jack Palance and Brian Keith.
Estevez is the hot headed Billy the Kid who became regulators when their boss (Terence Stamp) is murdered by Palance's gang.
Now when the film came out some critics were rather sniffy about the film and you have to applaud the movie for shaking the genre up a bit. However it is bewildering silly as well. In the shootout with Brian Keith in the latrine, well they could had just gone round the side to attack him and even from behind. Maybe they needed a reason to write Charlie Sheen out of the movie a third of the way through as he was in demand as an actor at the time.
There is also the silly scene where the characters get high which now looks laughable. Estevez character is supposedly to be fiercely loyal to his slain boss but also appears to be psychotic.
I remember liking the film a lot when it first came out but now it looks dismal. You end up thinking why does Stamp's character want to surround himself with young lost men.
Sutherland's poetic character comes off best but even his romance with the Chinese ward of Palance looks rather odd.
Here though several young actors some of whom were labeled the Brat Pack and who were coming up roughly around the same time in the Middle Eighties got an opportunity to play some real life western characters. The names of the characters these guys play are real even though the story is highly fictionalized to the extent that not all of them died during the period both films show.
One reason I do like Young Guns is that it does show what is probably the most realistic portrayal of Billy the Kid. Forget Robert Taylor, Johnny Mack Brown, Paul Newman, when you see Emilio Estevez on the screen you are seeing the real Billy, basically a punk who was skilled enough to back up his brag.
Estevez rides with Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko, and brother Charlie Sheen. They are the 'regulators' who ride for John Tunstall the British rancher played here by Terrence Stamp.
It was the relationship between Tunstall and his young regulators that villain L.G. Murphy (Jack Palance) touches on. It's certainly led to speculation that these guys were some kind of a gay harem for Stamp. I certainly am not going to comment one way or the other because we just don't know. What's more cause for the animosity is that old country resentment of the English rulers.
What Young Guns essentially does is take the plot of the John Wayne classic Chisum and tell it from the Tunstall/Regulators point of view. Chisum himself is eliminated from the story, though he appears in Young Guns, II played briefly by James Coburn. So if you've seen that, you know what happens.
The young guys are great and Stamp and Palance provide a good pair of antagonists. Brian Keith is around for a memorable performance as Buckshot Roberts, a well known bounty hunter of the period.
Young Guns is a well done western with good editing at a pace that never drags. It's a modern classic not to be missed.
After years I managed to return to the densely star-populated "Young Guns" (Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Jack Palance as well as Terry O'Quinn of "Lost" fame). I never remember being overly enthusiastic about the original, but I felt mildly intriguing when finding out that the events in the movie are actually a relatively true recreation of events. Naturally some script liberties have been taken, but I must admit that in this department the movie actually does a bang-up job.
Nonetheless even such a strong story as the Lincoln County Wars, which has the potential of being a defining western movie, is not capable of hiding the multiple flaws of the movie. Emilio Estevez for one is a rather childish and clowny version of the Kid with almost no character development, which makes him feel more like a caricature. That said in general most of his accomplices are very thinly structured. With only a hint of attempting to flesh out the characters the film focuses on the story itself.
But even here the plotting is jumpy and chaotic. Not to mention that the movie in general seems to totally lack heart and conviction. Even the most key scenes are dealt with poorly and with absolutely no artistic integrity (almost as if a made for TV movie). Forced to characterise the movie with one word I would have to chose "lame". Given the absolutely powerful source material driving around corruption, lawlessness of the law and the situation where the victims are turned into outlaws it is absolutely shocking that this disinterested depiction of a legend has become a household movie about Billy the Kid (while some absolutely supreme takes exist - Sam Peckinpah's attempt for one).
With that aside, my biggest complaint is the music. I dunno, I've never bought into modern pop-music-ish drums, rhythms, and guitars in older tales when such instruments weren't invented. But at the same time I'm not anal enough to care which instruments of the orchestra had been invented for that time period to accurately represent the times. But I think somewhere in between total accuracy and complete unbelievablity there's a happy medium. As much as I like Young Guns, I cringe when the tempo picks up . ..
The ending's constant trips to slow motion and motion distortions is like a forerunner to Matrix's bullet time . . . and it's equally annoying.
Besides that, Young Guns is a fun ride into the old West. It combines drama, comedy, and Western elements to get a unique blend. It has love interests, tragedy, rage, humor, while following a fairly standardized formula (with few bumps thrown in here and there) it never goes to the extreme with the formula. The love drama is never sappy, the comedy never interferes with the more serious tangents, and the tragedy isn't eye-rolling. Young Guns works on all those levels. So kudos to the director for that.
Of course a major factor for why Young Guns works the way it does is due to its rather impressive and capable cast. Some bigger names, some smaller names, but all fit their parts well. Billy, Doc, Dick, and the whole regulator gang both look and act their parts within reason.
So in conclusion, not the most authentic Western, not the best Western, Young Guns doesn't even try for that. It does what it sets out to do, and that's give us one fun ride through the wild and untamed West.
This film is enjoyable in the sense that you can turn it on and relax, never having to worry about thinking or even remaining conscious - hell, I could actually feel brain cells just dying off as I watched it. It is no more than an excuse for the brat pack to ride around shooting guns and having fun - as a western it is pretty poor and as history it is totally, totally bogus! The plot is a series of shootouts punctuated with moments of inane comedy, dramatic subplots that fail and acting that would have been better served with a chunk of pineapple on the side. The story is not true and is pretty poor in terms of structure; the characters are given little bits of drama (Doc's girlfriend, Chavez's history etc) but they don't work and only serve to give the actors something to do to make them feel like they are acting. The action is noisy and simplistic and should really do the job if that's all you are looking for however if you are after anything more than noise you will be disappointed.
It is no secret that this film was just an excuse to bring together the so-called Brat Pack (although in fairness it is more just a collection of young stars). None of their characters really convince and the script just creates them as simplistic and wooden gunmen. The bits of personality that the script does put in are way too modern for the western setting and only serves to damage. Estevez is poor and far too modern and cocky; Sheen is a bit more suited to the genre but sadly isn't the film's focus. Phillips is very hammy and trades off his ethnicity too much - I supposed now that he has 24, Sutherland can look back and laugh at least! Mulroney and Siemaszko are not very good and just fill out the rest of the gang. Stars like Stamp and Palance add a bit of clout but really have little to do and seem to know what sort of film they are in.
Overall this is a very poor film that only serves as a noise for an hour or so. However even as that it doesn't work - too many supposedly `comic' or `dramatic' touches are just rubbish and add nothing to the film except minutes, a problem in a film that cannot fill it's inflated running time. The action is noisy and basic, the characters poor and the audience involvement in the story almost zero. I can understand why they made it but it is a mystery why so it was so popular (marketing it as an event picture probably) given that it has so many faults and so little value.