Vicenarian Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss. Excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.
Ellen, an unknown female gunslinger rides into a small, dingy and depressing prairie town with a secret as to her reason for showing up. Shortly after her arrival, a local preacher, Cort, is thrown through the saloon doors while townfolk are signing up for a gun competition. The pot is a huge sum of money and the only rule: that you follow the rules of the man that set up the contest, Herod. Herod is also the owner, leader, and "ruler" of the town. Seems he's arranged this little gun-show-off so that the preacher (who use to be an outlaw and rode with Herod) will have to fight again. Cort refuses to ever use a gun to kill again and Herod, acknowledging Cort as one of the best, is determined to alter this line of thinking ... even if it gets someone killed ... Written by
Like all of Sam Raimi's movies, this flick was a cartoon. That's not an insult- his works with the Coen brothers on movies like The Hudsucker Proxy are some of my favorites, with their insanely "zoomed-in" quality. This movie was a spaghetti western, it was ABOUT spaghetti westerns, and it was also a weird, wonderful nightmare where your options are limited, you're a superhero, and your enemy is all-powerful. That's adolescent, silly, and totally compelling.
Raimi has always done brilliant visuals; I don't know his history, but I suspect he read a lot of pulp comics as a kid. The early scene where Stone gets up (after playing dead) and you see her shadow putting her hat back on, with the obvious bullet hole in the brim, is sheer visual brilliance.
Gene Hackman is, of course, great (MST3K line: "He's good in everything!"). Sharon Stone has gotten a lot of static for doing what Clint Eastwood built a legend on: bad acting, done intensely. (And in Stone's case in this flick, I think, purposefully.) Leonardo D. is well-cast as a cocky, yet needy, "bad-a** in his own mind" type. Russell Crowe (who nobody knew at the time, especially me) is great in his role as a survivor of a 12-step program to help fight a dependence on violence, complete with backsliding moments.
Do not look to this movie expecting anything like realism, believability, or moderation. This is pulp fiction, eye candy, nightmare surrealism, wanton entertainment. It's trash culture saluting trash culture, and if you can appreciate that, it's a hell of a great ride.
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