Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Return of the Seven

Return of the Seven (1966) AKA Return of the Magnificent Seven
Dir: Burt Kennedy
Starring Yul Brynner, Warren Oates, Claude Akins, Robert Fuller, Julian Mateos, Emilio Fernandez

After learning of some bandits that are kidnapping men from various towns, Chris Adams (Brynner) assembles a crew of 6 gunmen to rescue them.

Even though The Magnificent Seven ended up being a financial disappointment in the United States, it was successful enough overseas to warrant a sequel being made. The only actor that returns from the first movie is Yul Brynner. The characters of Chico and Vin return, but this time they are played by Julian Mateos (Chico) and Robert Fuller (Vin). One of Brynner's concessions for returning to the role of Chris Adams was that Steve McQueen not be brought back. The two men apparently did not get along on the set of the first movie, so while this makes some sense it does hurt the film a bit. Robert Fuller isn't bad in the role, but he's no Steve McQueen.

The plot is simple enough, a group of bandits being lead by Lorca (Fernandez) has been raiding villages and kidnapping the all of the men and taking them somewhere. After attacking the village from the first movie and kinapping Chico, his wife Petra tracks down Chris Adams, who has also coincidentally just met up with Vin again. After learning of the situation, Chris assembles another group of seven that includes himself, Vin, two prisoners Frank (Akins) and Luis Delgado (Virgilio Texeira), Manuel (Jordan Christopher) a young cockfighter, and Colbee (Oates) a man Adams knows from his past who enjoys the company of married women.

The movie looks good though. It was directed by Burt Kennedy, who made is career doing a ton of westerns, and written by Larry Cohen, whom is best know for the It's Alive series and the really cool 1980s giant monster in New York Movie Q: The Winged Serpent. The most amazing thing about the movie is the tone in the back half. It starts off a bit fun and lively, but as the story progresses it becomes sadder and more melancholic, with Chris Adams questioning whether or not they are doing the right thing helping and training the farmers, until Colbee tells him that "we've got to stand alongside of 'em so that someday they can stand alone". That's probably the best scene in the entire picture.

Overall this isn't as good as the first film. It isn't bad, but it's not as good as the first movie. It lacks any moments that are memorable like the first film, and there are sometimes where it feels like it's longer even though it's half an hour shorter than the first film. It tries to do the same thing as the first film but not as well. But Warren Oates and Claude Akins are pretty good in it.

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