Newest Reviews
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Toll, The
Two of Us
Nowhere Special
Rainbow Jacket, The
Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1
First Cow
Undiscovered Tomb
Being Frank
Occupation: Rainfall
Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc
Weapon, The
Godzilla vs. Kong
Love and Monsters
Young Wives' Tale
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
  Mercenary, The Revolution Baby
Year: 1968
Director: Sergio Corbucci
Stars: Franco Nero, Tony Musante, Jack Palance, Giovanna Ralli, Franco Giacobini, Eduardo Fajardo, Franco Ressel, Álvaro de Luna, Ralf Baldassarre, Joe Kamel, Ugo Adinolfi
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Sergei Kowalski (Franco Nero) sits in a Mexican bullfighting ring, in the audience, and contemplates the clown show that has just trooped into the centre to perform their act. He is present because he knows the head clown, or rather knew him: he is Paco Roman (Tony Musante) who just a few short months ago was a revolutionary causing trouble for the tyrannical authorities, but now is lying low as he is a wanted man. Just how did these former allies get into this position, and what does the Polish want with Paco? To understand that we must go back in time to when they first met, when Kowalski had been hired to collect a bounty on his head and Paco was an escaped prisoner...

The phenomenon of the Mexican Western made by Europeans was a curious variation probably kicked off, as with the whole Spaghetti Western genre, by Sergio Leone, when he made The Good The Bad and The Ugly, which featured the revolutionary war in a central role. He would return to the trappings in Duck, You Sucker but the style was on the wane by that stage, yet for a while many Italian directors tried their hand at applying left wing politics to the Western and Leone's old friend Sergio Corbucci was one of those who took to the format like a duck to water (not a sucker to water), though arguably he was following the material of A Bullet for the General from the year before.

Anyway, The Mercenary quickly became a cult movie, as Bullet did, when it was shown around the world about 1970, especially popular with students to whom the politics and general breezy, vibrant tone appealed. Helping the film was the casting of two of the genre's most charismatic stars, Nero and Musante, Nero in particular well-suited to these with his handsome looks and ability to be tough but take a punch as well; Corbucci had made him a megastar with 1966's brutal Django, so that everyone from Jamaica to Japan and all points in between knew Nero's face and he became an idol of the screen. Musante did not have such a signature role, but his Paco came somewhere close.

Also showing up in the cast was celebrity bad guy Jack Palance, playing villainous, scheming Curly (did the makers of his Oscar-winning turn in City Slickers call that character after his supporting part here?). Curly is an opportunist out to make a profit from the revolution, but meets his match in Kowalski and Paco who by the time they encounter him have teamed up, mostly thanks to the Polish's knack for working out the best ways to stage acts of insurgency. And acts of gold and cash theft, which late-appearing leading lady Giovanna Ralli (whose career lasted around an incredible seventy years or more) observes seem to mean more to Paco than fighting the Mexican Government, despite the excuses he makes that he has the interests of the people of his homeland at heart.

For most of the movie you don't really buy that, but there's a political awakening for Paco when the powers that be opt to place a price on his head, mostly because he has been a troublemaker, but also because he is becoming a figurehead of the revolution. What was nice about The Mercenary was that the main cast enjoyed a genuine chemistry, especially between the double act of stars at its centre; everyone here worked very well together and their well-conveyed sense of fun consisted of most of the reason you kept watching, even as the plot began to be overstretched (it was a shade overlong at an hour and three quarters). Bits of business that contributed to that included Nero finding unusual places to strike his matches, a two-man brawl that veered into outright slapstick, and Palance completely naked (!), but despite it not being a wholly progressive type of movie, there was a tone of taking the spirit of the age and making the most of it, without being an acid Western. Even Spaghetti sceptics would be amused by this example. Fine music by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 559 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: