Red Sun sounds like a great idea, an old-fashioned Western triangle between
a good guy, a bad guy, and an unpredictable rogue with a touch of nobility.
The recipe is spiced with some foreign flavors since the three leads are tough
guys from three different continents. The bad guy is Alain Delon, who has an
amazingly good grasp of the nuances of American speech and mannerisms. The
good guy is Toshiro Mifune. The wisecracking loose cannon is Charles Bronson.
Bronson and Delon start the film by leading an outlaw gang intent on
relieving a mail train of some gold. To make matters more complicated, perhaps
too complicated, the train is guarded by the U.S. Army, and is attacked by
Comanches during the robbery, so people are blowing each other apart in all
directions. When the dust has cleared, Bronson just wants to get the money and
get on the road, but Delon ends up killing several people needlessly,
including an emissary of the Japanese delegation to Washington, which had a
private car on the train. Delon also takes a shine to a gold-embossed samurai
sword intended as a gift to the President, and steals it from the Japanese
ambassador, even though the booty from the hold-up is enough for him to live
on forever. Needless to say, the kingpin samurai (Mifune) swears revenge
against Delon. Delon double-crosses Bronson at the end of the robbery and
leaves him for dead, but our man refuses to die, so revenge-bent Mifune makes
Bronson lead him to the official outlaw lair. The film also features that
rootin'-tootin' Western buckaroo Ursula Andress as a scheming prostitute who
provides the connection between Delon and Bronson.
I know it sounds like a great premise for a Western, and it should have
been, since it was directed by the man who did three of the first four James
Bond movies. It has plenty of action and cross-cultural wisecracks, and the
gorgeous Ursula Andress naked, so it should have functioned as the perfect
setting for a "mismatched buddy" picture, which is one of Hollywood's most
It just doesn't work out that well in execution. After the train robbery,
which is a good sequence, the rest of the film plods, and basically consists
of a series of unlikely plot twists in which the hooker and the Comanches
inevitably pick the right moment to do what is necessary to advance the plot.
Every time the white people are about to settle their scores, the Comanches
(obviously some Mediterranean guys in make-up) appear out of nowhere to change
the equation, and then to circle around everyone in the official mad whooping
frenzy of all Hollywood Indians, riding in the open, acting dutifully as
target practice for the others, who then resume their intrigues when all the
Comanches have been dispatched to the Happy Hunting Ground. There is no
character development for any of the Comanches, nor are they even recognizable
as separate individuals. They are all simply anonymous, convenient devices and
their attacks just slow down the development of the central conflict.
Sometimes their appearance is so obviously a forced plot device that its just
downright silly. Two examples:
- When Bronson is in an inescapable scrape, captured by the baddies and
about to be plugged full of hot lead by one of Delon's henchmen, an
unexpected (and unheard) Comanche attack gives Bronson an unlikely reprieve
just as the henchman's hammer is cocked. This is the only time in the film
when the Comanches appeared without their usual customary war whoops. I
suppose that could be explained by a stealth tactic, but what can't be
explained is that they were not sneaking up on foot. There were dozens of
them and they were all riding hard, yet none of the West-toughened white men
(nor us) heard the thundering hooves! Fortunately for the white men, the
Comanches followed up their tricky surprise attack with the obligatory
tactic of circling around in the open while whooping and waiting to get
picked off by white men shooting from behind proper cover. No wonder they
lost the West. I wonder why they didn't use their red war paint to create
bull's-eyes on their chests.
- Bronson holds Andress, Delon's woman, as a hostage to trade for the gold
and sword. When Andress escapes, it appears that all is lost for Bronson
because he has lost all his negotiating leverage, but the Comanches
conveniently capture Andress before she can reach the outlaws' hideout, thus
allowing Bronson to rescue her and bring her back under his control.
As you can see, the Comanches functioned as a lazy screenwriter's deus
ex machina, completely irrelevant to the main plot conflict, but simply
showing up every time the script painted something into a corner.
Other elements of the script are just as weak. Ursula Andress's predictable
betrayals get old after the first one (fool me once ...), and the film goes
almost dead right after the exciting opening sequence, slowing to a crawl when
Mifune and Bronson spend way too much time just strolling through the
uninhabited open expanses of the West on foot until they finally encounter
some other humans. The film's main assets were obviously the three iconic
tough guys, and the screenwriters needed to bring them together sooner and
The best thing in the film is Mifune, whose precise use of his sword makes
for some excellent fight sequences. There's one terrific early scene in which
Bronson, then still a reluctant ally, tries to break free from Mifune's grasp.
The unarmed Bronson shoves the samurai down an embankment in order to buy
enough time to fashion a club from a tree branch. When Mifune reappears,
Bronson makes three mighty swings at him with the makeshift weapon, and each
time Mifune parries the attack with a precise swing of his sword which leaves
Bronson with a smaller club. After the third thrust and parry, the American is
left with nothing in his hand but a tiny stump. That was a great scene because
of its imagination and humor, and because of Mifune's expert swordsmanship,
but most of the film just consists of lazy and stock Western movie formulas.
Overall: C-, a watchable genre film with some positives, but one which is
nowhere near as good as it should have been. From the film's description I
should have loved it, but didn't.
It is not available on a Region 1 DVD. The European PAL disk is a
bare-bones offering. There is no widescreen version of the film, and there are
no special features except a grainy original trailer. The good news is that
the full screen version is not a pan-n-scan, but the entire 35mm image, and it
is remastered beautifully, with crisp contrast and vivid colors.
I don't really know much about her, but she is a beautiful woman and
has been in nearly 80 movies. She is still working today (or at least
she was in 2003).
* Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).
* White asterisk:
Blue asterisk: not mine.
No asterisk: it probably
Catch the deluxe
version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles,
Melissa (1995), AKA Secret Sins, sat unfinished for years,
and was then cobbled from the existing footage into something which would allow the
producers to recoup some
of their investment.
The film is chiefly known for topless exposure from Nicole Eggert in the lead, and
it has been claimed she has two topless
scenes dancing in a strip club, but that one of them is a body double. I was dubious
of that claim before I popped it into the DVD drive. It made no sense to me
that she would show her boobies in one scene in a strip club and not in another
nearly identical scene. Here is the sequence of events in the scene that
supposedly uses a double. She dances for the first time on stage. Cut to the
club owner and a woman never seen before or since commenting that she is good.
Cut back to her dancing, still fully dressed in a light green lacy dress. Cut to
unknown stripper number one showing her boobs in a blue satin dress. Cut to her
telling her best friend in the dressing room how much she made. Here is a
comparison of Nicole and the supposed double.
So, I am supposed to believe that they doubled her first scene with a woman
that had different hair, a different face, very different boobs, a different dress, and was
dancing in a different place? Uh - no. The principle of Occam's Razor leads
to a more logical explanation: it's simply a different character. Remember that
the film was assembled years after it was lensed and there
was no more footage available to the editor, so he had no way to explain that
Nicole had left the stage and had been replaced by another dancer. The different
dress color accomplished that sufficiently for the audience. There's really to
reason to believe that the scene was ever intended to be Nicole's character in the
Now, on to the plot. The opening sequence cuts between a strip club and
Nicole in a prison hospital cell, recovering from slitting her wrists. We soon
learn that an unidentified man was found shot in her apartment, and she was
found in a nearby cafe still possessing the murder weapon and with her wrists
cut. Her public defender reports that she is uncooperative, but he tells the
court- appointed shrink that she is worth saving. We then learn her story in a
series of flashbacks as she slowly opens up to the shrink.
The brief story of her life is trite tripe - the aspiring dancer who comes to
New York and ends up a stripper, and then makes bad relationship decisions. What
makes this one slightly different, and probably would have saved it had they
been able to finish filming, was that they kept the identity of the stiff in
doubt until the end.
In other words, this is not a whodunit from the audience point of view, but a who-got-done.
IMDb readers have this at 4.0.
Scoopy thoroughly trashed it, and I can
certainly see his points. It was not finished. In fact, they may have changed
the plot line to match the footage they already had. There were flow problems
due to missing establishing shots and inserts. They had to use every frame of
existing footage even to get to the reduced running time of 81 minutes. It is
not entirely without plusses, however. Nicole Eggert gave a strong performance,
and nobody was especially bad in the film. Breasts from someone of her stature
is always good news for us. The lighting in the strip club was excellent in that
it didn't take away from the nudity but still gave the proper mood.
I can imagine this film being a C- to C if they had been able to finish
shooting. As it is, it is a D+.
Scoop's note: It is available at Rare Licensed
DVDs for $19.95. We have linked to them because they provided a screener, but
this time they are priced far out of the market. In the unlikely event that you
should want this movie, you can find it much cheaper elsewhere. Amazon has it
for $11.49 new, and it can be purchased used for less than five bucks.
Amanda & the Alien
Amanda (Nicole Eggert) works at a clothing store and has a relatively
lonely and unremarkable life. All this changes when an alien that's
been held a secret military installation escapes by taking over the
body of Connie Flores (Alex Meneses), one of the base employees.
Amanda finds the fugitive alien and decides to help it hide from the
government agents chasing it, a seemingly easy task, as the alien must
change host bodies every few days.
Notes and collages
Jolie Day 4 - Pushing Tin
The Comedy Wire
Early Saturday morning, Lindsay Lohan crashed her car into a curb while driving
with two friends. She was treated for a minor chest injury, and police arrested
her on suspicion of DUI. They also reportedly found a "usable" amount of a drug
believed to be cocaine in the car, but they haven't established who it belonged
* It couldn't be Lindsay's: if she had a usable amount of
coke, she would've used it.
Bill Clinton said his favorite TV show is "I Love Lucy"
* He really relates to the story of the charming,
popular celebrity whose deranged wife thinks she should be the one on stage.