The Mercenary (1968)

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  •  (4 out of 5 stars)

Sergio Corbucci is the second-best director of Spaghetti Westerns after Sergio Leone. Corbucci's films are more violent and rough around the edges in terms of direction and editing, and that's part of what makes them so fun. He's best known for Django (1966), The Great Silence (1968), and this Zapata Western The Mercenary (1968) which is set during the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s. Franco Nero plays a Polish mercenary named Kowalski who is hired to help out Paco (Tony Musante) lead a revolution and rob Mexican towns in the process. Jack Palance plays Curly (with much curlier hair than he had in City Slickers), and he's chasing down Kowalski and Paco, along with the help of troops from the Mexican Government. Kowalski is the all-seeing, all-knowing realist who's in it for the money, and Paco is the revolutionary idealist. The radical woman who joins them, and then comes between them is Columba played by Giovanna Ralli. There isn't much depth to the characters, but we're here for the action and there's plenty of it with a massive body count. It pushes the limits of the PG rating at the time with mostly bloodless violence of hundreds of government troops getting mowed down with machine guns and other weaponry. All's well that ends well, and the final act of this western is spectacular. Kowalski oversees a duel between Paco and Curly in an arena accompanied by one of Ennio Morricone's finest tracks ("L'arena" which also shows up on the soundtrack of Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 2). And after some double crossings, the movie has a jubilant ending of camaraderie. It's worth seeing for any fans of Spaghetti Westerns.

(Summary from Wikipedia)

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