SET IN 1897, PRINT RITTER & HIS NEPHEW TOM HARTE BECOME THE RELUCTANT GUARDIANS OF 5 ABUSED & ABANDONED CHINESE GIRLS. THEIR ATTEMPT TO CARE FOR THE GIRLS IS COMPLICATED BY THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO DELIVER A HERD OF HORSES ... more »WHILE AVOIDING A GROUP OF BITTER RIVALS INTENT ON KIDNAPPING THE GIRLS.« less
Jean W. from JORDANVILLE, NY Reviewed on 11/15/2011...
a really good western, well worth watching
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Darlene L. (Earthnut) from YUKON, OK Reviewed on 9/17/2011...
Awesome movie, fantastic entertainment, second position under Lonesome Dove. And, it's also a true story.
2 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Lyrical, Sweeping Western a Triumph...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 08/26/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Broken Trail", a dream project for producer/star Robert Duvall, and AMC's first original film, is the spiritual heir to Kevin Costner's 2003 "Open Range" (also starring Duvall), and one of the most moving, involving Westerns of recent years.
With a charismatic, extremely effective performance by Thomas Haden Church, as Duvall's long-estranged nephew, the film is one of only a handful of Westerns that combine epic sweep, superb characterization, and an understanding of the 'Real West', without shortchanging decency, or respect of an individual's worth. The era was hard, justice could be swift and brutal, and Duvall, as aging but upright Prentice Ritter, lives by his own rules; to protect the helpless in his care, to respect others, and to be unafraid to resort to violence, if necessary. Tom Harte (Church), despite some family history problems with his uncle, lives by the same code, and the two men, driving a herd of horses from Oregon to Wyoming to raise cash for a ranch, become the 'saviors' of five young Chinese women, sold into prostitution, who inadvertently fall into their hands.
These are good men, in a jaded world, and their journey picks up other 'strays', as well as the women; young Virginian fiddler Heck Gilpin (an engaging Scott Cooper), is rescued by Tom in a saloon; aging Chinese laborer Lung Hay (Donald Fong), and careworn prostitute Nola John (the wonderful Greta Scacchi) join the group after Tom saves the Chinese women from rapists, in a boarding house/bordello. While neither Ritter and Harte were overjoyed at the strange direction the drive was taking, they would not allow harm to fall on 'innocents', and the group bonds into a warm 'family', with Nola and Ritter finding a mature attraction between each other, and Tom and Sun Foy/#3 (Gwendoline Yeo, who speaks only Mandarin, in the film), gently falling in love.
Danger is never far behind them, however, as brutal ex-con 'Big Ears' (Chris Mulkey), with a score to settle with Nola, and a 'contract' to return the Chinese women to whorehouse owner Kate 'Big Rump' Becker (Rusty Schwimmer), trails them, leading a gang of killers...
While the film is long (240 minutes), director Walter Hill, an old hand at Westerns (his "The Long Riders" is one of my favorites), keeps the story constantly engrossing, and Duvall and Church have a warmth and authenticity as the characters that will stay with you, long after the movie ends.
Shot in the Canadian Rockies, "Broken Trail" combines grandeur and intimacy seamlessly, has moments of great humor to lighten the drama, explosive action, and a bittersweet sense of nostalgia...
It is, simply, superb!
A Western you can take a date too...
M. A. Ramos | Florida USA | 06/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this film on AMC. This is AMC cable network's first original production starring Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church. It is a fictional story that everyone will want to watch. The background for this movie is based on historical fact of the time. I knew I was going to watch this western as soon as I read that Robert Duvall was involved in the project.
This movie takes place during the late 1800s. It starts with two horse wranglers played by Duvall and Church. Duvall's character, Print Ritter, is Church's uncle. They decide too wrangle horses and sell them to the British Empire who needed them for the Boer War. In the movie we follow this magnificent heard of horses as they are driven east across beautiful country. During the drive they run into five Chinese women who were being kidnapped from the West Coast and brought to the interior west to serve as prostitutes. The story of our horse drive and the story of five Chinese women become intertwined.
What makes this western special is we see the personal growth of Print Ritter from lonesome cowboy to father figure. And what makes this western unique is we see the story from the view of the female characters. Though the movie did not end exactly as I expected, it was close, yet seemed more real.
This is a must see movie. The story line, acting, scenery, background are all top notch. It was hard for me to believe that this was not very large big screen production."
A Romantic Yet Gritty Western - Top Notch!
James Koenig | Minnesota | 12/31/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow! This is why filmmakers make movies. This movie will capture your imagination and heart. It is a big epic of a western, beautifuly filmed, with an intriging story line that will keep you guessing right up until the very end.
I am a devoted western movie fan, and this movie ranks up there with the very best of the genre.
Robert Duvall, best known as "Agustus" in Lonesome Dove, dons western garb once again and stars in a lengthy, yet thoroughly enjoyable tale of a horse drive across the plains to Sheridan, Wyoming. Duvall employs his nephew in the endevor, and they unexpectedly meet up with a variety of both endearing and unsavory characters along the way.
This is not a shoot 'em up western. It is not action-packed. It meanders at a leisurly pace, as an actual horse drive would, yet an enjoyable pace from beginning to end. Duvall, as the patriarch Print Ritter, and his nephew Tom Harte, (played exceedingly strongly by Thomas Church) take about 500 head of horses to Wyoming. On the trail, they cross trails with an evil pimp who is moving five Chinese girls to a mining camp where they will be sold into the living hell of prostitution. The Chinese are sweet innocent beings who are being mistreated by the pimp, and through a series of incidents, the girls become the responsibility of Ritter and Harte. From there, the group picks up additional characters: another trail hand, an aging abused prostitute, Nola, played wonderfully by Greta Scacchi(who becomes a potential love interest of Duvall), and a Chinese man. This western is unusual in that the men portrayed have an inate sense of honor, and they treat their "guests" with dignity and kindness, which is unusual treatment indeed. The men vow to protect their companions until they can be safely dropped off in a town where they will be protected and not abused.
On the trail we are treated to the troup interacting with each other. Nola falls in love with Duvall's character, as she senses the goodness inside him. She has never been treated with respect or kindness, and she sees a future with Duvall that would be romantic and tender in their love for each other. Meanwhile, nephew Tom has his shy eye on one of the Chinese girls, and they form a tentative, but budding relationship along the way. Throughout the trail drive, the viewer wonders how the love interests will play out.
As with any good western, there is a chief antagonist, and in this case, he is a former customer of Nola's, "Big Ed", who is obsessed with her, yet absues her, and in the past nearly killed her. He is paid to bring the Chinese girls to the mining town, and like any evil man, he surrounds himself with three other equally evil companions to accomplish the job. Plans are made to overcome Duvall and his group, take the Chinese girls, and steal the horse herd.
The climax occurs at the very end of the film, so it keeps you guessing right up until the very last minute. I will not spoil the ending here, yet suffice to say that the ending is tension-filled, action-packed, and beautifully directed for maximum suspense and impact.
Robert Duvall is magnificent. He is the quintessential cowboy, a role that he was born to play. His easy mannerisms and style of acting rank an A+ in my book. Thomas Church plays a powerful role as well, as the chief protector of the group. He is as physically hard as Duvall is tender-hearted, and the two make a fine contrast. All the actors portray their roles wonderfully and most believably. It is as though you are along for the ride, watching it all unfold. One is not aware that these are actors playing roles, no, these are reallife characters, and that is what draws you into this 4-hour movie, and keeps your interest.
This is a movie that is not suitable for young children due to gun violence and a brief rape scene. It is however, a movie that both men and women will enjoy together, for the male-female relationship is continually explored throughout the movie. Most westerns do not appeal to women, but this one is different, as much of the movie is interpreted through female eyes.
In conclusion, this is a great western that is worth every minute of the 4-our time span. It will engage you and show a side of the west that no other film has attempted. Highly recommended without reservations. Find a nice easy chair, sit back, and enjoy this beautifully-made film.
Jim 'Konedog" Koenig
The Duvall Wesrern Trilogy
R. W. Kehr | SKOKIE, IL. United States | 07/01/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Duvall considered Broken Trail to form the third part of a trilogy starting with Lonesome Dove and continuing through Open Range. When I read that, I got down on my mental knees and said a novena for AMC who produced this movie for cable. Duvall has been a presence in movies since Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird, opposite John Wayne in True Grit and consiglere to The Godfather but his role in Lonesome Dove was the epitome of an actor and a man in a role for all times. His character was one that reminded you of the best qualities of old friends and the independent spirit that lives within us, however shackled by circumstance and commitments we may be. So when Mr. Duvall speaks Trilogy in conjunction with Lonesome Dove, you listen...and watch. He produced this movie and had a hard time shopping the script to studios. It was written more character driven and the studio suits suggested less character and more bullets driven into cowboys.Thankfully, AMC let the whole 240 minutes play out as it was written. There is enough time for appreciating the gradual changes that occur in the characters as they react to the unusual circumstances that bring them together. And those that don't adapt or evolve tend to die- by suicide or violent means-yet this isn't one of those movies about the passing of The Old West. Overall, this is a terrific film that jumps more than a few boundaries of traditional westerns. And is ultimately about the spirit of the West and the East - about the spirit."
A WESTERN THAT EASILY STANDS UP WITH ANY IN THE GENRE
D. McAllister | Somewhere in the Field | 06/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What is it that makes a good Western? Most people who hate Westerns will tell you that they're all the same and, in many cases such is true. Accordingly, I could go on and on about the elements of this movie that are characteristic of all good Westerns. But then I would likely be parroting the excellent points made in most of the previous reviews here.
But for the purposes of my review, I choose to talk about the things that make BROKEN TRAIL special.
First, the characters and the way they are portrayed is extremely compelling. I like how Print Ritter, played masterfully by Robert Duvall, is an "equal-to-life" hero. He's not set here as a Western giant, the likes of John Wayne, who can do no wrong and who has complete confidence in everything that he sets his mind to. Instead, Ritter is a man of doubts, strengths, concerns and confidences who approaches life as any one of us might. He chooses some things right and in other things he fall short. Wonderful "every man" mentality. But then this is becoming a refreshingly consistent story for Western characters played by Robert Duvall.
Such is also true of Ritter's nephew, Thomas Harte played by Thomas Haden Church. There's friction between Harte and his uncle but then there's an abiding respect that helps form the foundation of one of the finest relationships ever to grace the Western screen. In its own way it's right up there with Gus and Call. Church's deliberate, plodding style creates a confidence in viewers that is nothing short of wonderful. One seems to feel that, come what may, Harte may very well be the last man standing and in the end he doesn't disappoint.
And then there's Big Ears Bywater played about as coldly (and wonderfully, I might add) as imaginable by Chris Mulkey. Without expression, even when Ritter defiantly smashes his face with a butt of his head, Big Ears is reminiscent in numerous ways of the demoniacal Blue Duck of LONESOME DOVE fame. He's the sort of villain that keeps the audience wondering whether this is a story that, in the end, goes to the bad guy. But then I'll leave you to watch and see for yourself.
Gwendoline Yeo, Olivia Cheng, Caroline Chan, Jadyn Wong and Valerie Tian are wonderful in their portrayals of five young unfortunate Chinese woman, sold into prostitution and without any apparent hope. Interestingly, they project an air of vulnerable strength that wins the hearts of Ritter and Harte, as well as the viewer. No condescension, racism or the pathetic stereotype that might have emerged. You pull for these girls, not because they are helpless, but because their personalities shine clearly through.
Add supporting performances by Donald Fong as Lung Hay, Greta Scacchi as Nola, Scott Cooper as Heck Gilpin, James Russo as Captain Billy Fender and Rusty Schwimmer as Big Rump Kate and the spectacular, breathtaking cinematography and what emerges in BROKEN TRAIL is a Western drama that quite easily stands up with some of the best in the genre.