Monday, March 31, 2008

Red Sun (1971)

Director: Terence Young

Starring: Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune, Ursula Andress, Alain Delon

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: 2 Desperados ... 1 Hellcat ... and a Samurai ... the greatest fighting force the West has ever known!

Plot: The Japanese ambassador is travelling through the Wild West by train, when gangsters hold up the train, to rob a gold shipment. They also carry an ancient Japanese sword the ambassador was carrying as a present for the US president. The ambassador's bodyguard (Toshiro Mifune) will go after them, with the aid of one of the gang's leaders betrayed by his pals...

My Rating: 8/10

Would I watch it again? Yep

#127 on Drive-In Delirium Volume 2 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

Bronson = Badass! He doesn't say much...he doesn't have to.

When I first saw this a few years ago I was struck by two things: Charles Bronson smiles (frequently) and, surprisingly, the fish-out-of-water Japanese Samurai is treated with respect instead of the usual goofy-type Asian kung fu character found in westerns. With the kung fu craze of the early 70s becoming increasingly popular in films the East-meets-West theme was usually treated as broad comedy. It's refreshing to see the subject matter taken so seriously.

It's also really neat seeing Bronson play someone so lighthearted - certainly a nice departure from his stone-faced serious roles. Mifune is great as always. Having Bronson and Mifune in the same picture is gold. And then there's Ursula...mmmmmmmm...Ursula...well, she's fun to watch and Delon is good. The action is sometime raw and gritty (just what you've come to expect in a Spaghetti Western) but is nicely balance by Bronson's humorous turn and the sporadic bursts of very bleak funny from Mifune.

And here's one of those "They don't make 'em like this anymore" moments. There's a scene where Bronson is lying down listening to Ursula (his captive) ramble on. She slinks over to him for the seduction and as she moves her hands from his chest on down she quickly grabs his pistol from the holster throws herself back, points the pistol at Bronson and says, "Don't come closer...I kill you". He moves closer. She starts firing the pistol but there are no bullets in it. Bronson moves in, grabs the pistol and...

WHACK (and it's HARD), right across the face. Mifune walks in at this point and Bronson says, "That's Christina for you. You never know which gun she's gonna reach for." Nice.

Everything about this film is great except for the music.

I'm not much of a fan of composer Maurice Jarre. I've seen quite a few of his films but the only scores I really like are for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962), although somewhat repetitive but quite good, and WITNESS (1985) which would have been better if it had been recorded by an orchestra instead of electronic. He's definitely got his own "sound" but I don't care for it at all. In RED SUN it's just plain annoying, childish, and amateurish. It hurts an otherwise outstanding picture.

Other than that the only thing I would have changed is the ending.


Someone dies...and and the other one doesn't have a scratch. That's the problem. It didn't feel like it was really necessary and the film could have been better served by either A) no one dying or B) someone else snuffing it or C) all of them buying the farm.

Other than that, it's all good, Buddy.


Unfortunately, the film has only been released in fullscreen. There's not an awful lot worse than watching a western in fullscreen. Yeah, there is. Watching ANY Paulie Shore movie.

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