Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  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 1604 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
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: