The California Kid
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A forgotten action gem about a young man (Sheen) who faces off against the sinister sheriff (Morrow) who killed his brother. Featuring the most daring and amazing car chases this side of Bullitt, The California Kid burns rubber with a dynamite cast, including Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte. Vic Morrow turns in one of his finest performances as the twisted sheriff, a man with nasty habits that must be seen to be believed. A wonderful, action-packed film, filled with exotic antique cars and beautiful mountain vistas.
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The Western landscapes used as scenery and the early 70s style reminded me a lot of another made-for-TV movie, Steven Spielberg’s “Duel”. While not as good as that mini-masterpiece, “The California Kid” has a lot to offer.
The plot is simple but classic. An over-the-top Sherriff, played by Vic Morrow, has a bad habit of chasing drivers and forcing them off the road to their deaths. The film opens with an out of town victim being subject to the sheriff’s wrath; prompting his brother (Charlie Sheen) to come to the town to investigate. Charlie arrives in a hot rod with a paint job that screams attitude. The confrontation begins.
Being a TV movie, the pacing is fast but it allows for character development. As well as Vic Morrow and Charlie Sheen’s characters, you get to know a little about those played by Nick Nolte and Michelle Phillips. The car chases are thrilling with the Western scenery providing the perfect backdrop.
Actors of the caliber of Morrow, Nolte and Sheen are not going to disappoint and they don’t here. Since Vic Morrow passed in 1982, this is a wonderful opportunity to see him on the screen. He was a very distinctive villain.
A very watchable film and great value at around $6.
It seems to be TV movie quality as far as the production values go, but it was made before Lucas and Spielberg changed movies forever. I don't think either of them did us movie lovers a favor. I have no problem with the notion that it's just a movie and the blood is fake and no one really dies and story reins supreme. I had no problem with noticing that the The California Kid's lake pipes hooked to nothing.
This was a story about a young guy who was righting an injustice no matter what the consequences to himself. The writers did not try to 'soup' up the ending and the last shot was perfect. (I don't want to ruin the ending for anyone who has not already watched the movie.)
I will watch this movie again and again, right up there with Two-Lane Blacktop.