Return of Sabata (1971)
The iconic Sabata (Lee Van Cleef) and his usual bunch of trigger-happy and talented misfits are pitted against an Irishman who is taxing the hell out of a small-town. The townspeople think he is doing so to fund large scale infrastructure projects but really he is just stealing gold…..he’s Irish, remember.
Well, I am big fan of the original Sabata movie and the semi-sequel “Adios Sabata” with Yul Brynner in the title role as Indio Black. So, I am the sort of person this film is aimed at. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even hit the spot for me.
The opening sequence is pretty cool and a bit of a play or ‘spoof’ of what you might expect in the opening of a European western. But quite rapidly the film seems to dwell on an incomprehensible plot – whilst spaghetti-westerns aren’t known for the flowing narratives, this film is a bit bizarre in that it pays a lot of attention to plot-details which just don’t really add-up – leaving the viewer a bit confused as why anybody is killing anyone else……
There are a couple of scenes which hark back to the fun and violence of the two earlier films in the series – once again we have acrobatic gunslingers more at home in the circus than in a dust-bowl and a bumbling portly Mexican with a penchant for gunsmoke – but unfortunately these moments are few and far between. In addition, unlike the original and ‘Adios Sabata’, the villain this time around is rather colourless, more like a bad leprechaun than something akin to the bond-villain type protagonists of the previous films in the series.
The score for the movie is another oddity. Music is of such importance in this genre and it just doesn’t work here at all – the soundtrack is diabolical.
Lee Van Cleef is, as always, on top-form. His tongue-in-cheek style, charismatic sneer and piercing eyes are omnipresent throughout the proceedings but if you removed Lee Van Cleef from the movie, it would be pretty bad; including him raises it a notch but this is a poor and disappointing film reserved for italo-western completists alone.
hotdog rating: 4/10 (2 of these are solely for Mr Van Cleef)