Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Magnificent Seven Ride

The Magnificent Seven Ride (1972)
Dir. George McCowan
Staring Lee Van Cleef, Michael Callan, Luke Askew, James Sikking, Pedro Armendariz Jr., William Lucking, Ed Lauter,

Chris Adams (Van Cleef) has married and settled down as sheriff in an Arizona town. After an old friend asks for help defending a Mexican town from a crew of bandits, Adams refuses until his wife's kidnapping leads him on a quest for revenge.

In the last film of the original series of M7 films, Lee Van Cleef steps into the role of Chris Adams, which I can only assume was due to some weird agreement that he and Yul Brynner made swap roles when he stared in Adios Sabata. Anyway, this film is sort of similar to the last two sequels, but different in ways that make it feel fresher. It still involves Chris Adams coming to the aid of a Mexican village under the siege of bandits, but at first he's reluctant. He's happy being a married sheriff, and doesn't want to get involved with the troubles. But after the kidnapping and murder of his wife by someone that joins up with the bandits, his quest for revenge transitions to the mission of taking down the bandit Del Toro.

One of the biggest changes from the past films is the make up of the Seven. In the last films it was made up of people that Adams could trust, or people whose abilities he was sure of. In this film that isn't the case. Aside from Noah (Callan), a reporter wanting to write Adams story, the other five members of the group are all men that Adams arrested and sent to jail, who only join up in exchange for a pardon. That gives the group a different dynamic, where they all dislike Chris, but it also gives them a chance to learn to trust each other and how to work together, which they do in a great action scene where they attack the home of Del Toro while he and most of his men are away. There also is more scenes of the group preparing for the assault on the town, which was a highlight of Seven Samurai and of the first Magnificent Seven film, and was lacking from the previous 2 films.

One troubling thing about the movie is how it nonchalantly handles rape. Adams wife is kidnapped, raped and murdered at the beginning of the movie, and at the end he's happily shacking up with another woman. This other woman is one of the women of the town that has been victims of sexual assault by Del Toro and his men. It paints a picture that while it's a bad thing that happened to the women, they don't seem to have any long term effects, aside from one of the women hoping that none of them becomes pregnant. 

The seven isn't as memorable this time around, other than Van Cleef who is pretty great as Adams. One of the other problems is that the villain, Del Toro, isn't as interesting or as memorable as the past villains.

Ultimately you know how this movie is going to end up, but at the same time it doesn't matter too much. Personally I'd say that this is the better of the M7 sequels, but at the same time I don't know if I would say that any of them is essential (other than the first one). At least if you decide to go through and watch them all you get to end the series on a high note.

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