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The Jack Bull


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jack Bull, The (DVD)

Amazon.com

The Jack Bull was produced for and premiered on HBO, but it's easily the most respectable job that feature director John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, WarGames) has done in the past two decades. The title refers not to a piece of livestock but a metaphorical Jack Russell terrier that, once it's annoyed enough to close its jaws on something, will hang on to the point of death.

That would be Myrl Redding (John Cusack), a horse-breeder of limited means but a deeply entrenched sense of justice. His independence galls Henry Ballard (L.Q. Jones), the crusty land baron out to set his brand on most of the countryside. Ballard insults and cheats Redding several times over, and his men beat Redding's horse trainer and friend, an Indian (Rodney A. Grant). When Redding seeks redress from the law, its agents can't be bothered (the local magistrate is in Ballard's pocket). So Redding musters a vigilante army to enforce his own law.

Scratch this handsome but rigorously unromanticized Western--fully an hour passes without a shot being fired--and you find the classic Heinrich von Kleist book Michael Kohlhaas transposed to Wyoming Territory on the eve of statehood. The script--by the star-producer's dad, Dick Cusack--is sturdy and uncompromising, willing to engage the knotty ambiguities of embracing vigilantism even in a just cause. Badham's decision to treat the authorities (Scott Wilson, Jay O. Sanders, John Goodman) as period caricatures is regrettable. But John Cusack is solid as a figure of utterly matter-of-fact integrity. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

  • Featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: John Goodman, John Cusack, L.Q. Jones, John Savage, John C. McGinley
  • Directors: John Badham
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: February 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305504024
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,732 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Jack Bull" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

151 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Lonnie Turner II on February 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Wow. I've not seen very many westerns, truth be told. I can count the one's I've enjoyed on one hand. Tombstone, Unforgiven, and to a lesser extent, Silverado. But the Jack Bull tops them all (sorry, Clint). John Cusack plays a horse trader who is forced to leave two prized steeds with a spiteful land Baron because he can't afford the Baron's toll. When he returns to pick his horses back up, he finds them badly beaten and swaybacked, and the Indian worker he left with them was beaten and driven off. He wants amends and gives the Baron two weeks to have his horses returned to their former glory and his Indian cohort payed for his damages. The Baron refuses, and with no help from the local or federal law agencies, he takes matters into his own hands. In my opinion, this is how the Wild, Wild West really was, as every bit of this movie rings authentic. Cusack is amazingly good in one of his best rolls ever (among Say Anything and Grosse Point Blank), and John Goodman is equally as good as a no-nonsense judge. This is a good example of the price of taking the law into your own hands, and I think this one will become a staple in any film fan's, western or no, permanent video collection. I give this one five stars, and that's saying something seein' as how I ain't none too keen on westerns and all. Watch this movie. Buy it. You won't regret it.
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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Martin on August 2, 2005
Format: DVD
One of the least known western movies of the time that should be considered as a great real to life action movie. It transports you to the time of pre-statehood and could be any state of the USA. Cusak's performance is totally outstanding and I would consider his best work ever. A good family film that even my grandchildren enjoyed.

In this day and time you look for films that DO NOT cater to foul language, sex and drugs and this film was a delight to sit through.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Maryann T. Zalewski on October 27, 1999
Format: DVD
The plot was captivating, very interesting twists that took you off-guard. It truly holds your attention. The scenery was breathtaking! Being a fan of Cusack, I have seen pretty much all of his movies, this one tops them all in the category of plot and acting. (Of note: My favorite Cusack classic will always be: Say Anything, I have this movie and have seen it a thousand times. I actually quote from it on a regular basis.) Getting back to The Jack Bull, this movie lets you see the range Cusack has in his acting ability and allows you to see real growth in him as a talented actor. Kudos to you John! The one area that stands out in my mind was watching his anger....very believable and impressive. It was also good to see John Goodman on screen again, especially in the "morals" role. The ending was a bit disturbing and not what you expect, but it was a good fit to the overall plot. Thumbs up to Dick Cusack for creating such a wonderful movie as this, and for his talented kids!
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Steven Hellerstedt on November 5, 2004
Format: DVD
JACK BULL is a smart and slick tale of frontier justice taken to extremes. John Cusack nails the role of the horse trader done wrong and the acts he takes in retribution.

I especially liked the introduction of the John Goodman character as a no-nonsense frontier judge whose sense of justice is equal to Cusack's. Cusack's acts of vigilante justice work on an individual basis in a lawless society, but Goodman represents the Law. I thought this interesting story became fascinating after Goodman's arrival. What started out as a revenge movie slowly and surely morphs into a tragedy, with two strong-willed characters whose passion for justice negates any other considerations.

This one surprised me some. JACK BULL is a minor classic and immensely enjoyable. I very strongly recommend it.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Terri L. Smith on December 29, 2001
Format: DVD
"The Jack Bull" is another movie that displays the amazing acting talent of John Cusack. There are times that I am disappointed that Cusack doesn't seem to parallel in accolades with actors such as Cruise, Crowe, and Hanks. But then I think about that and I have decided that Cusack is far above and a much better talent than the aforementioned. "The Jack Bull" is a perfect example of why. A movie written by his father, "The Jack Bull" is an excellent display of good vs. evil. Beautifully written, the story becomes three-dimensional with some of the best performances I have seen from Cusack and John Goodman. A definite emotional film, the displays of ethos, pathos, and logos are just right...not too Hollywood and not at all dull. As a person who is not a fan of the traditional Western genre, "The Jack Bull" proves that one should not decide from films in the vacuum of a particular genre. I will admit, I have been quite smitten with Lloyd Dobbler for many years. Yet I have seen that Cusack's acting talents are so malleable, that he, too, does not act within the vacuum of a genre. Forget the fact that I have adored Cusack's movies for many years, this movie is definitely worth owning...not just watching once.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By H. Row on January 25, 2004
Format: DVD
I've become rather disappointed in many of the recently released movies. Not because they aren't spectacular with lot's of special effects, etc, but because of a lack of substance regarding right and wrong. The Jack Bull was released in 1999 as an HBO film. The plot revolves around a man who treats people honestly and respectfully and believes in the law to uphold these virtues despite wealth, power and influence. He expects the same to apply to everyone. He encounters other men who are greedy, and dishonest.
Jack Bull follows John Cusack's character in an attempt to get justice when he is wronged.
The movie follows Cusack's pursuit of justice through honest means. When that fails, he takes the law into his own hands, eventually gaining retribution from the man responsible.
Without giving the plot away, Cusack also must face the consequences for his vigilantism and it's results. This is a movie where the hero is held accountable just as the villian is for the wrongs they have done.
The movie may be 4 or 5 years old, it may not have gotten it's well deserved attention when released. But, it is one of those thought provoking movies that stay with you. Well acted, thought provoking.
I'm happy with this purchase and believe many of those who may have missed The Jack Bull will also enjoy this superb movie.
John Row
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