Yes it's a western,not a Billy Jack film okay!!! having said that,I enjoyed this film very much!,it has a very cool cast which includes Tom "Billy Jack" Laughlin,Ron "Superfly" O'Neal,Barbara Carrera,Victor Campos,Hector Elias,Lincoln Kilpatrick,Geoann Sosa and more!!! And it's directed by Tom's son Frank Laughlin!!! Music by the great Lalo Schifrin!!! And beautiful camera work by the underatted Jack A. Marta!!! The film is presented in it's original widescreen format and it's enhanced for 16:9 TV's!!! Great extras include a commmentary track by the Laughlin family and cast and crew interviews from 2002,as well as a photo gallery and even a trivia quiz!!! A very underatted western!!!,a rare gem!!! Two thunbs up!!! Five stars!!! A+
on August 28, 2002
If you're looking for a sophisticated, well written and well acted western, look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for a unique western that will provide you with silly entertainment, get this movie. The movie can simply be described as a "Billy Jack" movie set in the old west and Billy Jack is armed with a samurai sword and a special revolver (and he, of course, knows how to use them both). If you're a fan of the "Billy Jack" movies or you're just looking to expand your 1970's cultural awareness, you'll enjoy this movie.
This is a story of how it was, and how it might have been in California nearly two hundred years ago. Therefore, you have to be willing to buy into the story. This reminds me of another movie that I reviewed recently, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Just like that movie, you have to be open to the plot and be willing to be won over. Now, admittedly a Katana-wielding gunfighter is much, much easier to buy into than Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter. This movie is not necessarily historically accurate. As the narrator (Burgess Meredith) immediately stated at the prologue, "this is a story of how it was, and how it might have been".
Much of California land was under the ownership of Spanish lords, or Dons. The Spanish Dons backed the losing side in the Mexican-American War. Within the story of this movie, the American government imposed heavy taxes on the few remaining Dons and additionally promoted the interests of the American Cattleman Association against those of the Spanish. Basically, the government wants to take the land away from the Spanish and make it available to the American cattlemen. In order to pay the exorbitant taxes, the leader of the Dons stole gold from a Native American fishing village. To complicate the story, this gold originally came from an American ship that sank off the coast of the fishing village. The Native Americans had salvaged the gold, and was planning to use that gold to "buy" their freedom from the church. So they send a large delegation of men and women from the tribe, along with the gold, to bargain for their freedom from the church. On the way to the church, a heavily-armed group of masked men ambushed the Native American delegation. Obviously, this gold is "hot". Meaning, the Americans are looking for it. In order to keep the secret, the armed men massacred all members of the delegation. They also went back to the village and killed all of the people there, before taking the gold back to the hacienda (Spanish ranch). With gold in his possession, Don Paolo Santiago now has enough money to pay off the exorbitant taxes imposed on the Spanish landowners. And, with the entire Native American village dead, his secret should be safe.
Don Paolo's brother-in-law, Finley McCloud, learns of the massacre. Unable to live with the guilt, but at the same time, unwilling to oppose Paolo and his wife's family, he decides to leave the hacienda. But before leaving, he makes Paolo promise never to repeat the massacre. Finley leaves his wife, the hacienda, and all of its wealth behind. He makes his way to Mexico, making a living as an entertainer, delighting people with his swordsmanship, as well as his marksmanship. Finley is a master gunfighter, versed not only in the use of the pistol, but the katana as well. While working a gig, Finley is confronted by hired assassins. He kills all but one. From the one, he learns that the assassins were sent by the hacienda's foreman, Maltese. He also learns that Paolo is again planning to steal more gold from the Americans and that in order to hide it, he must massacre an entire tribe of Native Americans. Finley, armed with a katana and a twelve-shot pistol, immediately saddles up to make his way back to California.
I will stop here and not spoil the story for you. Don Paolo was played by the African-American actor Ron O'Neal. And let me just say that Ron did a wonderful job. His light skin enabled him to pass off as a Spaniard. And his Spanish accent in the movie was very well-done. You would never have guessed that he is African-American. He just had the right look for this role. Barbara Carrera was Eula, Paolo's sister and Finley's wife. The theme music is very good and quite fitting to the story. The choreography and the fight sequences are not up to the level of today's high-budget movies. Don Paolo's costumes are magnificent to look at. And, ofcourse, Tom Laughlin was Finley McCloud, the Master Gunfighter.
on October 14, 2012
Another Tom Laughlin starring movie, produced in between his "Billy Jack" series of releases. This one more historical on early California, the native Americans, the Spanish, and the white settlers, invoking the politics of that time. I had seen it on its theatrical release and liked it well enough to decide to add it to my DVD collection. I enjoyed watching it again, and now better understand the original intent.
on January 15, 2015
I loved Tom Laughlin's Billy Jack series and had seen this when it first came out. Watching his films again I realize how hypocritical they were. His pauses and sighs -- don't make me do this -- okay I'll kill you -- is a little tiring in this western as he travels around with a 12 shooter and a samurai sword. Everyone has a sword and would rather sword fight than use their gun. Actually it is not a sword fight, he simply slashes them once and they die. His moralistic views again are strange. It is the white Americans responsible for it all by raising taxes. To get the money the Spanish landowners lure gold laden tax ships onto the rocks, killing the crews. Then make local indians bring the gold in for them and then kill the whole tribes. But it wasn't their fault, there was nothing else they could do. Didn't enjoy it as much this time around. Laughlin's character seemed too poised and too arrogant. If your a Tom Laughlin fan this is for you. Best performance in the movie was Ron O'Neal.
on July 7, 2015
If you thought the late Tom Laughlin was so-pretentiously funny in those Billy Jack movies, you have to see this one. This one really deserves the MST3K treatment---have a video party with friends and toss popcorn at the screen at every ultra-liberal wacked-out historical revisionist moment, and every time Laughlin gives his indignant long suffering would-be pacifist-face whose just dying for the change to hack down or shoot someone. The historical howlers in this inadvertent farce make it worth the watching alone!