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Old 02-15-2001, 09:21 AM
The Wild Bunch 8.5/10 (video review)

32 years ago Sam Peckinpah co-wrote and directed a fascinating tale. A tale about some shady guys, some bad guys and some worse guys. To paraphrase the tag line from PAYBACK, "Get ready to route for the bad guys."

THE WILD BUNCH is right on the cusp of the Western era. Ernest Borgnine & William Holden lead the way as a small group of desperados look for one last score before retiring their guns. A code of honor keeps them together and alive, the same code of honor that ultimately brings about their demise.

I rented the Restored Director's Cut on DVD and enjoyed each and every minute of its 142 minute length. Simply fascinating. The size and grandeur of the production is captivating (I wonder if budgetary constraints were an issue back then?) The performances were superb all the way around -I felt their pain and desperation. The gunfights were spectacular, bloody and chilling. Peckinpah's use of the camera is awe inspiring and original, even by today's standards, and his use of imagery - (Especially at the onset with the kids, the scorpions and the fire ants...) wow, captivating doesn't quite describe it...

When the end finally came, I could feel the tension - I could almost read the actor's faces too, they new it was over, the most fun they'd ever had on the set of any movie was coming to an end. Hell, I didn't want it to end, but if it had to end - this ending was as excellent as I could have hoped. The final four marching down the Mexican street all armed and ready for their war.

A super little scene sticks out for me: One of "our" guys gets shot in the back, when he turns around to see that it was a Mexican whore who shot him he says, "Bitch" and just shoots her in the chest! Awesome!! Not necessarily the grusomeness of it, but its realistic flare - honor, no honor - shoot me in the back, you die. No thought, no consideration, just BANG - you're dead! A movie today would have the character uttering some witty cum unrealistic one-liner before maybe shooting her, and then feeling bad about it afterward.

THE WILD BUNCH feels real to me. If you have just the slightest itch to see a Western one evening - rest assured you've made an excellent choice sitting down to watch this DVD.


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