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Young Guns (SE)
DVD disk
10.07.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Young Guns (SE) order
Director:
Christopher Cain

Actors:
Emilio Estevez
Kiefer Sutherland
Charlie Sheen

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
It's 1878 and a British Landowner (Terence Stamp) hires a bunch of rowdy, uncouth young men to work on his cattle ranch. Treating them like his own sons, he offers them a chance at a new life but when he's violently gunned down by a competitor (Jack Palance), the boys, Regulators as they call themselves, take to their guns and led by Billy the Kid (Estevez), begin a bloody war across the whole of New Mexico.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Determining whether you can look past some of the obvious 80's flair that's inserted into an otherwise good western is the main key to enjoying this movie. Hardcore Western fans will be confused by the electric guitar twangs, synthesizer beats and slow-motion shots that pop up once in a while, but will also be thrilled by the excellent gunfight action and the extremely (and surprisingly) violent sequences within. Average fans, on the other hand, those who can accept a western starring sensitive young men, will also get their share of some very pretty, clean-shaved cowboys and sensible love-story side-plots. Basically, the flick's got a little something for everyone. Both categories of fans will also agree that Charlie Sheen's Western accent is about as ugly as a pair of Air-Jordan sneakers.

The oddest thing about the film though is its premise. I mean, think about it: a British bachelor takes in a pack of confused, virile young boys and teaches them to read, educates them on table manners and buys them flashy threads while they roll around in mud trying to tie up his hogs? It's no wonder that when Palance insinuates that Stamp's character may be... uhm...how should I say... interested a bit more in the boys than the cowboys, I couldn't help but say "touché!". It's sort of odd but then again, Stamp is pretty cool so it doesn't really matter and Palance making fun of someone is always a pleasure to watch. He does it with such gusto!

Seriously though, YOUNG GUNS is actually quite a fun film to watch and despite some uneven performances, the most notable coming from Charlie Sheen and Lou Diamond Phillips (who, fresh off LA BAMBA fame, delivers one of the least convincing emotional rants right in the middle of the film) and an inappropriate soundtrack at best, the film does drive home some good fun. The action is fast and furious and Estevez's over-the-top performance as Billy the Kid is a bit zany at first, but quickly settles into a great draw. One thing is for certain, whether you enjoy it or not (and I'm betting you will), YOUNG GUNS will certainly not bore you. Bullets fly, horses run, outhouses get blown away and even though the acting is at times not up to par...you'll soon realize that acting isn't necessarily what this thing is all about.
THE EXTRAS
There are only a few features on this special edition, but they're all quite neat. First, you can treat yourself to a combination by playing the "Trivia Track - Gunning for the Facts" pop-up comment feature along with the full length audio commentary by Lou Diamond Phillips, Casey Siemaszko and Dermot Mulroney. While the trivia track provides non-stop info on the film, the stars, the story and pretty much everything else, the audio track will provide you with... well... pretty much the same. The mood on the track is actually quite fun and the banter consistent and unrehearsed. The funniest of the three is Mulroney who jabs at pretty much everything, but my favorite part is when all three ganged up on Charlie Sheen's rancid accent. Funny stuff.

The DVD also features a very interesting 30-minute long documentary about the real life of Billy The Kid. Very nicely made and providing some fascinating facts, "Billy The Kid: The True Story" unveils some aspects of the life of one of the Old West's most infamous and dangerous outlaws with a special focus on the brief part of his life on which YOUNG GUNS is VERY loosely based. Interesting stuff although watch out, if you're a sucker for A&E and the Discovery Channel like me, you've probably seen much of this already. Nice thing to have around for buffs though.

The Theatrical Trailer is also there but that's a gimme and the DVD case does come in a nice flip-top packaging that features some nifty pics. There's also a pretty cool 6-page booklet with a little welcome note and descriptions of the features.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
This isn't a masterpiece of filmmaking but it's fun to watch nonetheless and over the last decade and a half, it's managed to develop quite a devoted cult following (as well as a terrible sequel...). With this nice little Edition and a movie that I'll no doubt be watching again sooner or later, I personally would buy this, but then again, I'm a huge western fan. Milder aficionados will probably have enough with a rental provided they don't have a 15-year old VHS copy lying around. A close call, but I'd rate this one a "strong rent".
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