SAMURAI (aka: SHOOT FIRST… ASK QUESTIONS LATER) (IL BIANCO IL GIALLO IL NERO)
(director/writer: Sergio Corbucci; screenwriters: Mario Amendola/Renée Asseo/Luis G. de Blain/Santiago Moncada/story by Marcello Coscia & Antonio Troiso; cinematographer: Luis Cuadrado; editor: Eugenio Alabiso; music: Guido De Angelis/Maurizio De Angelis; cast: Eli Wallach (Sheriff Edward ‘Black Jack’ Gideon), Giuliano Gemma (Swiss), Tomas Milian (Sakura), Jacques Berthier (Kelly Butler), Manuel de Blas (Captain Donovan), Lorenzo Robledo (Colonel); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Sergio Corbucci; Millenium Storm DVD; 1975-Italy-dubbed in English)
“Ridiculously silly comedy spaghetti western, that gets its kicks as it spoofs the genre with low-brow comedy.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Sergio Corbucci (“Django”/”The Big Silence”/”Companeros”) directs with slapstick relish this offbeat ridiculously silly comedy spaghetti western, that gets its kicks as it spoofs the genre with low-brow and offensive ethnic comedy. It blends together a wild cartoonish story set in the American frontier (filmed in Rome), that brings together as mismatched partners in a quest to recover the prized Japanese Emperor’s miniature pony stolen from a train by renegade cavalrymen dressed as Indians, the oddball threesome of a comical phony accented Japanese wannabe honorable samurai swordsman named Sakura (Tomas Milian, Cuban actor), a notorious nervy con man named Swiss (Giuliano Gemma) and a celebrated family man honorable straight and narrow gunslinger sheriff named Black Jack Gideon (Eli Wallach).
The pony is robbed from the train by fake Indians, who kill the samurai guard because his servant Sakura took his sword while he was sleeping to pretend to be a samurai. The pony is held for the ransom of a million dollars, a sum the Japanese authorities are willing to pay for its safe return. The Japanese request that the sheriff exchange the gold in a strong-box for the pony at the remote mountain desert location requested by the thieves. Sakura goes along to save face, feeling he let the Japanese government down in not guarding the pony. They are joined by Swiss, who was on the run aboard the train after robbing the sheriff of the money due the deputies and now schemes to steal the ransom money.
Everyone has some trick up their sleeve. The Japanese place dynamite in the strongbox with three different colored locks and tell the sheriff which lock to open for the money, as they warm him the other two locks when opened will cause a dynamite explosion. On the trail there is an ongoing series of incidents that include alternating captures and escapes, mix-ups, and betrayals. We learn at some point that an unscrupulous banker and railroad man (Jacques Berthier) is behind the stolen pony theft. Eventually the fake Indians are dealt with by frontier justice, as are the crazed bad guy former cavalry soldiers. There’s a twist ending depicting how the trio of pony rescuers fare after their success, each with different results.
The DVD visual quality and dubbing of Samurai was horrible, rendering it almost unwatchable. I suspect this is one muddled film that will only please Corbucci fans and not make many new converts for the noted spaghetti western film director.
REVIEWED ON 1/14/2013 GRADE: C+