MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Let’s start with Weisser’s first line - “Antonio Sabato is Minnesota, a dressed-in-black, man of few words bounty hunter …”
… and let’s dismiss Weisser now.
In fact it is Chris Avram that opens up the shooting in this - and he is the afore-mentioned Minnesota. And it looks like it’s gonna be a goody - over 6 minutes in and not a word has been spoken and already he’s shot somebody in the back to show what a heartless bastard of a bounty hunter he is and cashed him in with a pill-popping sheriff.
7 minutes in and we’ve got a gang of Mexican banditos led by a crusty ol’ dog with a pocket watch for a best friend, robbing a bank. Still looking highly promising, you have to agree?
The story mainly revolves around Minnesota striking up a deal - with a desperado called El Santo, who IS played by Sabato (in a ‘Mark Damon-ly open-shirted-bare-chested’ performance) - and the two of them go after crusty ol’ Corbancho and his gang, in the hope of finding his hidden cache of $400,000, not realising (as I did) that if he actually had this gold then he wouldn’t be risking life and limb holding up small-fry banks.
Of course there’s double dealing a-plenty and all is not as it seems.
Meanwhile Minnesota and El Santo get a sort of ‘chummy/save-ya-life/double-cross-ya’ relationship that hinges on El Santo not yet being worth the $10,000 that Minnesota deems a minimum to work for. (In fact, confusingly, Minnesota deals with a lot less of a bounty at times throughout the film). This story also revolves around us realising that El Santo was framed for a bank-job, but we also find out he is a ‘son-of-a-bitch’ and that he also has a nasty torturous ‘hold a candle to ya feet’ aspect to his personality that contrasts with an inner do-goodiness.
Without giving too much away, this is O.K. stuff - better than the comedy shit that oozed out of the genre at about this time but falling short of the grittier stuff that epitomised the neo-nihalism of the twilights.
It does possibly try to be too much of a hybrid maybe, a bit on the ‘churned-out’ side, and does not seem to be allowed to develop its own ‘character’ (I’m thinking of the earlier El Puro here, where a potentially mediocre western ‘finds’ something special from the characters being allowed to find their own ‘path’).
This could/should have been a much better film. There is a spark of potential that glistens occasionally from individual performances - this is a film that relies on relationships - and these don’t really gel satisfactorily for most of the time.
There is, however, a bit of the nastiness that you’d expect from the genre - and this includes a teenage boy being hung from a bell-rope - the banditos betting on when he loses his footing and the bell will ring. And there’s more ‘homage’ besides this. There’s a barber’s chair scenario; the afore-mentioned pocket-watch (couldn’t bring on a red-hazed flashback, could it? … Oh yes it could …); and a counting of the bounty as the bodies are piled in the wagon … and (bang) … here’s another. It’s not a rip-off though - it is meant to be a homage - (it couldn’t be anything else). Despite good individual performances from the leads (and Erika Blanc and Pilar Velasquez in it), and it having a smidge of charm and style of it’s own, it ultimately doesn’t sparkle enough to put it in the same league as some of the other lesser-knowns that turn out as diamonds. High hopes at the start were somewhat let down - but having said that - it still kept me there til the end and I (pretty much) enjoyed the ride.
Worth a look.
The copy I watched was a dvd-r (video copy) - widescreen/English language/Dutch subs./A bit soft and washed-out, but emminently watchable all things considered.
[N.B. - This database, and imdb, has this down as its filming location as Almeria (…must go one day ;)), but the credits, despite saying a ‘Luis Film, Rome’ and ‘Dauro Film, Madrid’ only mentions in regard to location - ‘Filmed at Elios Studios, Rome’ - and makes no mention of Almeria.]