It has been quite some time since the name of Django (Franco Nero) struck fear into the hearts of men, and most believe he has died long ago, but he actually retired to a monastery to live out the rest of his years as a monk. However, an ex-lover of his arrives at the gates of the place and asks to see him, so reluctantly he agrees, told by her that there is a man in the South who has enslaved hundreds - can Django do anything to help? He informs her that he does not live that life anymore, and refuses, but then she drops a bombshell: their daughter has been captured by the evildoer's men. Now he is forced into action...
And about twenty years too late. This was Franco Nero's return to one of the roles which created his celebrity across the world, but if you went into this thinking that it was anything other than a cash-in instead of a glowing tribute, you would be disappointed. Director Nello Rossati, using the pseudonym Ted Archer, exhibited little feel for the tenor of the original, and the script was less than idiosyncratic, which was not what the character's fans wished to see. You wanted something outrageous for your entertainment value, some incredible feats, that je ne sais quoi that a classic Spaghetti Western offered up: something that appeared to have passed by the time this was made.
To his credit, Nero was looking good for his age, and was still recognisably the same character even when he was dressed in his monk's outfit, but everything around him was too listless for its own good. The chief bad guy was Christopher Connelly in his second-to-last role as El Diablo, a European military man who has found mining for silver and selling young girls into prostitution far more lucrative than warmongering. To give him something to stand out, he is obsessed with finding a black butterfly which is said to flutter around this South American environment, but other than lending him an air of decadent refinement this trait offers little in the way of personality.
Connelly does well enough, but he could have played this type of role in his sleep, in contrast to Nero who genuinely does appear to be drowsy for most of his screen time. It's not his finest hour and a half, although there are a few scenes where the old spark reignites, such as where he tracks down his supposed grave, opens it and pulls out his old machine gun, though moments like that are reliant on having seen the first film and your good memories of it. Django does hunt down his daughter, and she is on El Diablo's paddle steamer which he spends most of his time sailing up and down the river upon, along with a group of slaves and gun-toting henchmen who we know our hero will have to tangle with.
Aside from an unusual location for a Western, so unusual that it doesn't really come across as the genuine article, there's not much to satisfy about Django Strikes Again. It's as if they were all going through the motions in the hope that lightning would strike twice, but what it really ends up resembling was one of those Rambo: First Blood Part II rip-offs as it builds to a finale where the one man war machine effectively blows up and guns down all the baddies in a display of physical invincibility familiar from dozens of other eighties action efforts. Brightening things up a little was Donald Pleasence, appearing as a stray entomologist who was meant to find that black butterfly but was put to work in the silver mine when he proclaimed the insect to be a myth, but he and his Scottish accent are only in this for about ten minutes in total. It's not that this is a dead loss, it's just that you would hope for something more inspired to carry that title; a tiny handful of scenes and the star aside, this could be any old hero you're watching. Music by Gianfranco Plenizio.