Wednesday, April 13, 2022

#2,738. Red Sun (1971) - Quentin Tarantino Recommends


Like The 5-Man Army, Red Sun was one of several runners-up on Quentin Tarantino’s Top 20 Favorite Spaghetti Westerns list. Directed by Terence Young (who also helmed Dr. No and From Russia with Love), Red Sun boasts some exciting action scenes, a solid revenge story, and the gorgeous settings we’ve come to expect from a European western (it was a French-Italian co-production).

Yet what really blew me away about Red Sun was its amazing cast of international stars, all of whom deliver top-notch performances.

It’s the latter part of the 19th century, and a train carrying a few dozen passengers, $400,000 in cash, and the Japanese Ambassador to the United States (Tetsu Nakamura) is held up by outlaws Link Stuart (Charles Bronson), Gauche Kink (Alain Delon), and their band of cutthroats. After stealing the cash and robbing the passengers, Gauche swipes a gold-crusted samurai sword from the Ambassador - one intended to be a gift for the President of the United States - then tries to bump off Link so he can keep the money for himself.

Desperate to retrieve the sword, the Ambassador orders his only remaining Samurai guard, Kuroda (Toshiro Mifune), to accompany Link as he searches for Gauche and the money he’s owed. Though not exactly thrilled with this arrangement, Link eventually realizes that having a highly-skilled samurai around can be quite handy, especially when the two try to draw Gauche out of hiding by kidnapping his beautiful girlfriend Cristina (Ursula Andress) and dragging her off to an abandoned mission.

But along with the dangerous Gauche and the high-spirited Cristina, Link and Kuroda must also contend with an entire tribe of Comanche warriors that is out for blood!

With renowned French cinematographer Henri Alekan (1946’s Beauty and the Beast, Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire) on board as the Director of Photography, Red Sun is, indeed, a beautiful motion picture that takes full advantage of its picturesque setting. The movie was shot on-location in Spain, in many of the same areas Leone had used for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West. In addition, Red Sun has plenty of action. The train robbery, which takes up the opening 20 minutes of the film, is damn thrilling, and features everything from dynamite to a showdown with a cavalry platoon.

Still, no amount of scenery or action will draw attention away from this film’s all-star cast. Bronson delivers his typical bad-ass performance, and is also pretty funny as the wise-cracking Link (especially during his initial scenes with Mifune’s character). Having already played his share of Samurai (Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo), Toshiro Mifune is perfectly cast as the warrior living by a code of honor, a trait that eventually wins him the respect of his outlaw companion.

Throw in Alain Delon (equal parts suave and ornery as Gauche, the film’s villain), Ursula Andress (absolutely alluring as the cantankerous prostitute who is in love with a bastard), and Capucine (1963’s The Pink Panther) as the Madame of the brothel where Cristina works, and you have an international cast that ranks right up there with Once Upon a Time in the West as one of the best ever assembled for a European western.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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