Brothers in Arms (2005)
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The bottom line is: even if you can get this movie for free or see it with a friend, you'll regret the hour+ of your life that you spent watching it (or less time if you can't sit through it like me).
On the plus side it may be good for a laugh if you're drunk at home with some mates, although it still doesn't have the drunken laughter appeal of something like Python or any of the 70's and 80's cult movies.
If you want a serious movie, don't get this, if you want a drunken laugh then only get this if ALL of the 80's horror films are already hired out.
I gave it a score of one because 'awful' really is fitting.
Now, this actually sounds quite intriguing to me, but there is one huge problem: The movie actually takes itself dead serious, while it on the best is a big joke.
OK, I can try to ignore the girls in the movie has silicon enlarged lips, with a tattoo outliner and a nice lip gloss thrown in, looking like some random prostitutes dragged off the street, with much less acting skills than you would expect even from a female of that given profession.
I can also try to ignore the desperate attempts at trying to be new by putting every known western cliché upside down, like the women are the strong ones kicking the guys butt, the black people are the cool dudes from da hood untouched by the slavery common a the time, while the white guys at best are stupid and pathetic cannon fodder, or at best evil and rotten to the bone.
I bet the director would be sued for racism if he movie had all the black guys exchanged with white guys. Not that I care about the political correctness of a movie, if the movie is good anything flies.
But, what kind of mindless, drug abused mind have come up with the plot?? I mean, some guys come up with the brilliant plan of walking straight into a bank loaded with treasure yet with no guards whatsoever, flash a gun, take the money before some guy chasing them magically appears outside from nowhere and we have a final shootout.
THATS IT! Swallow it down with some oh so deep soulshattering philosophy about bonds between brothers are stronger than life and death, made into a joke by what is possibly the worst western movie ever made.
I thought it would be refreshing and new, but they killed everything good about western movies, and added a bunch of boring, cliché-filled, badly executed elements instead.
I will even go so far to say that I can in fact enjoy a good turkey, because it becomes so bad it is actually fun to watch in good company, but this.. This is not even that.
Don't SEE THIS MOVIE! IT IS A TOTAL AND UTTERLY WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY! If you need to see an alternative Western movie, see Wild Wild West with Will Smith again instead, it is mindblowingly better than this load of humus.
Don't waste your time with this movie. Now if i wold write more about this movie i would waste more of my time. I hope that not so many people will have to be tricked to watch this movie, a movie made by a bunch of "antiprofesionists". This movie should be in The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made!, top 10 actually. Escuse my English please. I speak Romanian.
Every time the camera was on a different person it was like the show stopped and they were trying to make some big drama out of each character. In order for that to work, people have to care, and I didn't care at all. It was like a bunch of different ideas that they were trying to mold into one film, but they didn't complete any of those ideas and in my opinion they didn't even work together.
Now let me get to the part that is probably controversial. I watched the special features on the DVD to see what the maker of this film, Jean Claude, was thinking... because really, a black western? An urban western?? Hey I'm a fan of Moulin Rouge where they incorporated modern music through the whole movie and it was superb, so I am not against new ideas. But Moulin Rouge was as much of a comedy as it was a love story and musical. It was meant to be a fantasy world of dreamers.
Brothers in Arms was to be taken completely seriously. Jean Claude explained that he wants to be the person to show people that there can be black westerns, that there can be black sci-fi, and a "black race car movie", etc. I admire his intentions, but for the love of God, a black western?? I kept waiting for there to be some kind of narration in the beginning that spoke of blacks in the old west, historically speaking. If that were the case, if the movie were to be documenting the little known black addition to the old west, I would have been glued to the screen. But this movie's attempt to put blacks in a western is like someone making a remake to Roots featuring an all white cast.
I don't know much about American History. I would think at that point of time, Blacks are heavily discriminated even in the 1960s when a Black person had to give up his or her seat in a bus to a White. Here we have in this movie, a Black Lady Sheriff. Is that real? Also Blacks can freely wander into the Saloon and mingle with the rest of the crowd without any incident? I would think, at that time, drinks will not be served to Blacks.
Another flaw, one of the Bank robbers, the Hero who died allowing his brother to escape through a side window, wore a Leather Jacket with zippers. Zippers came into production only in 1930.
This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen.
Did anybody else mention the introduction scene for Kansas (Kurap, by far the lamest actor I have ever seen,) where we see three of his cards being a King, Queen and Jack of spades and he then calls out that he has a full house? They're showing us a straight flush and then.....ugghhhh. And the next scene is that horrible sword slashing thing. And then the lady with the dynamite on her belly, who cares? shoot her, it's not like that dynamite is gonna hurt you from that far away. What kind of idiot robs someone by strapping dynamite to yourself and then standing thirty feet away from them?
They're trying to get us to believe that any of this could have happened in the American west of the past, when they can't even get us to believe that any of this could have happened at any time on the planet Earth.
The worst acting
The worst clothing (notice I don't call them costumes, because they didn't even attempt to make period clothing.)
The worst directing
the worst plot, dialogue, scene editing, music etc. HORRIBLE.
DO NOT WATCH, DO NOT WATCH, DO NOT WATCH!!!!!!
I'm going to have to do a months worth of brain teezers just to gain back the IQ points I lost from watching the first quarter of this?
The last 5 minutes are so pretentious and melodramatic, they border on unwatchable. Please, save the song for the credits next time. If you want the scene to be powerful, give us a character that we have a reason to care about.
Here's to the next effort in this sub-genre, may it be something deep and resonant... Ernest Dickerson, where are you when we need you!
Comments: This is a very shallow movie, somewhat entertaining but with no depth in it at all. It tries to by bringing in connections and relations between a lot of the characters on either side of the law, but as these are never explored, just mentioned, it brings nothing. There are some action, and gunfights, and that is what makes the movie watchable. The gunfights are not good though, not very realistic at all. People just stand there, firing repeatedly. Not very much else happens, actually.
This is a movie to see if you are bored. Then it can kill some time for you. But if you look for a quality movie, keep looking.
The movie is fast-paced but the bank robbery scene\aftermath is almost half the movie and because of that there is some repetition in the dialogue.
The performances are okay. The standouts are Raymond Cruz as the Reverend and David Carradine as Driscoll. Ed Lauter and Kurupt stand around for most of the film. The gunfights could also use some improvement. When the ending comes it stops being an action movie and starts being a drama, which works actually.
In the end: Besides some minor problems, "Brothers In Arms" is still worth watching.
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Continuity: David Carradine appeared in several movies which were good. Then, inexplicably, he's in this movie.
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): After being identified by multiple witnesses during a blatant murder in a small town filled with vigilantes, the main characters return the next day to rob the bank. This idea is, in fact, completely f**king retarded.
Anachronisms: Sequined chaps did not actually exist in the old west.
Miscellaneous: The credits for this film list a director and several actors. However, acting and directing do not appear in the film.
Audio/visual mismatch: Good western soundtrack was apparently accidentally replaced with generic hip-hop garbage.
Revealing mistakes: Movie exists.
There were some costume decisions that were really bad and pulled me right out of the wild west. One character has a jacket with zippers on it. Zippers weren't around back then - they weren't invented until the early 1900s. The female lead's leather, belly-baring, bustier outfit was extremely anachronistic as well. It's straight out of a current day pop video and definitely something you could imagine Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera wearing, but not someone in a western lawless town in the 1800s. These things might seem nit-picky, but those are examples of the half-way done tone of the entire film.
Overall it's a mediocre movie that should have been more fun than it was.
The film does stay quite loyal to the original concept of the western. The surroundings and atmosphere are generally authentic in appearance and the majority of the story doesn't try to steer off into other directions that are inconsequential to the period in time. In other words, no one rides a motorbike and ninjas have no involvement.
David Carradine plays Driscoll a tyrant that has a stranglehold on a dreary western town. He owns everything including the law enforcement. He is a man above the law and fear is his favoured weapon of choice.
When a group of robbers come to town with the view of making the bank their next hit, they inadvertently kill Driscoll's son. This slightly scuppers the groups' plans and they must proceed carefully as Driscoll has vowed revenge for the killing of his son.
The film may have faults but unlike some movies it doesn't try to over-complicate the story to hide them. The acting is average. The film wasn't made with an Academy Award in mind so I don't think one can be too overly critical.
The music throughout the movie is fair with an intended mix of traditional western with some hip-hop style beats mixed in. It's not too overpowering for the theme but it may be irritating for the more sophisticated western viewer.
Unfortunately we reach what I believe are the real negatives.
The direction of the film is very poor. The film starts heavily with the flashy flashy camera style, jumping from scene to scene really quickly. The trend continues but thankfully for my eyesight it dies out slightly.
It does remind me a lot of Michael Oblowitz's work.
Some films can pull it all together with amazing action sequences - this does not.
This is the factor that annoys me greatest of all. In a western movie one expects a shootout, not just a shootout, at the very least, a good shootout. This is one western movie that does not deliver it in any form. It was like watching grown ups dressed as cowboys run around with toy guns shouting, "bang bang".
Director La Marre simply has no idea where to put the camera in the shootouts. In the close one on one confrontation there is no suspense and it's never clear who gets shot - In fact, sometimes its just noise. It is a very weak and shoddy attempt.
I'm glad to see a revival of sorts with modern westerns and I find it very difficult to criticise Brothers In Arms too much because with a tweak here and there (granted, one of the tweaks being someone that can shoot action) this really could have been a great film. It must be stated the estimated budget for the film was $1.5m and based on that figure it's a reasonable movie.
I certainly think it's worth a watch for some creative inspiration.
I'm going to quote another IMDb reviewer (Winner55) on another film, Raimi's 'The Quick and The Dead.' Since I know this reviewer personally, I know he won't mind; he makes the point about 'post-modern westerns' far better than I could: "The post-modern Western, as a kind of parasitic sub-genre of the Western, began as self-conscious parody of the Western. The precursors were films like The Marx Brothers Go West and Bob Hope's Paleface - films set in the 19th century but including references to events of the 194os. But the post-modern really began to come out on its own as afterthought to the Spaghetti Western, the formula for which included larger-than-life caricatures of the traditional Hollywood Western. The best known of these early Post-Mod Westerns were the Trinity films, but there was actually a more successful American variant from about the same time (early 1970s), Support Your Local Sheriff.
"Notice that all the films mentioned so far have been comedies. For some reason, the makers of Post-Mod Westerns soon began taking themselves seriously, as heavily ironic commentary on the politics of the day - think El Topo, Dirty Little Billy, Doc. Most of these were failures - El Topo once considered a cult film, is virtually unwatchable now.
"But the serious Post-Mods did leave a legacy. Since the mid-1980s, a number of films have deployed the same heavy irony, although politics is no longer a major concern. Among the first noticeable of these revised Post-Mods was the 'Brat Pack'version of the Billy the Kid story, Young Guns. This film sold very well, but largely due to the all-star cast involved; most critics did recognize a deeper problem with it, that it was difficult to determine what of it was serious, what comedic, and what just pure self-indulgence, as in the infamous peyote sequence (which, already bad, nonetheless left such an impression it got redone in Tony Scott's abysmal Domino).
"This problem now really defines the Post-Mod Western. Watching these films, are we indulging in a fantasy, the plot and themes to be taken seriously despite the irony? Or is the irony simply a cheap and easy form of over-intellectualized comedy? The lack of any clear answer is the real lasting impression any of these films leave with us."
I'm not prepared to say how good it is. It takes me a while to warm to a film.
We have black protagonists. Is that the problem? Are they musicians? It doesn't matter. They do well.
You get a chance to see some fine support actors go through their paces. David Carradine, Raymond Cruz, Peter Green, Ed Lauter. These actors put the film on the radar of legitimate entertainment.
Western clichés are revisited and are freshened up more than a little.
The script seldom clunks. Characters are introduced and followed leading viewers to the climax, which is not formulaic.
I really hope this film climbs out of the bottom hundred in time. It is occupying much needed space belonging to another film.