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  Return of the Seven Haven't We Met?
Year: 1966
Director: Burt Kennedy
Stars: Yul Brynner, Robert Fuller, Julián Mateos, Warren Oates, Claude Akins, Elisa Montés, Fernando Rey, Emilio Fernández, Virgilio Teixeira, Rodolfa Acosta, Jordan Christopher, Gracita Sacromonte, Carlos Casaravilla, Ricardo Palacios, Felisa Jimenez
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: This quiet Mexican village thought it had finally found peace after the trouble visited upon them a few years back, but now there is fresh turmoil as a group of bandits ride into town and kidnap the men, killing those who resist. Even Chico (Julián Mateos), the sole man in town with a gun, is overpowered so who can the remaining women go to for help? How about the man they went to last time, Chris (Yul Brynner), who is currently elsewhere in Mexico watching a bullfight. He is approached by an old friend, Vin (Robert Fuller), who advises him that there is a bounty on his head...

Mm, chocolate and coconut. No, wait, not that kind of bounty, Chris is under threat from being gunned down by a mercenary for his past misdeeds, so naturally this film will see him atone for his sins. Except if you've seen the original, The Magnificent Seven, you'll know he's already done that and will quickly twig that Return of the Seven is strictly business as before. Never mind that it's only Yul Brynner doing the returning, as the other cast members had either seen their characters killed off or were not interested (is it significant that Steve McQueen was at the stage in his career where he could turn this down and Brynner was not?).

Every so often Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai is remade, and why not as it's a cracking and versatile tale, but for the sequel to the western remake you might have hoped they would come up with something a bit better than, well, a remake of the remake. For that's what's on offer here, as screenwriter Larry Cohen (a future cult director who was here making moves into making movies) seemed to decide that the best way to follow up the first one was to make almost exactly the same film, though he might have been under pressure from the director, Burt Kennedy, who was helming a number of generic horse operas at this time.

So if you have see the predecessor - and why would you be watching this if you have not? - then you're in the odd position of knowing pretty much what will happen in this as it's almost exactly the same, with just the cast differing. In spite of Warren Oates being one of this latest Seven, everyone else is strictly on the level of television guest star, and even Oates does little with his role except a James Coburn impression to not much satisfaction (maybe if he threw some cutlery around?). With vitality lacking, surely they could have come up with a solid villain for our boys to combat? Who could equal Eli Wallach?

How about Emilio Fernández as megalomaniac Lorca? How about not? Lorca has an idea in his head that he can build an empire on slave labour, hence his tendency to kidnap peasants and put them to work in his fields and building his towns, but he's an unimpressive bad guy, in spite of having the advantage over Wallach of actually being Mexican. The big showdown at the end is singularly underwhelming, as it has a whiff of the silly about it when the Seven ride into the bandits' encampment and fail to be dislodged from their horses despite being sitting ducks for about a minute as they draw near. Needless to say, with their guns that never run out of bullets the heroes can shoot a bandit's hat off from a hundred yards away. In spite of its nonessential quality, this made enough money for a further two sequels to follow, but as they say, the original was the best. Or the remake of the original was the best, whatever. Music by Elmer Bernstein (which is also the same).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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