"God knows what God was thinking when he made the Apache."
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 05/07/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although Michael Winner is now a byword for bad movies, for a brief moment in the early 70s his work flirted not just with competence but actually delivered some pretty good action movies. Building on the success of his earlier Burt Lancaster Western Lawman, this doesn't have as strong a script but still makes for an effective, if bleak manhunt action movie.
Reversing the genre norm by having the posse as the villains, pursuing Charles Bronson's `halfbreed' into the badlands and gradually giving in to rape and murder themselves to draw him out as he goes from trying to shake them off his trail to picking them off, it's certainly a well cast affair - Jack Palance as the leader of the posse trying to relive his glory days in the Civil War, Richard Basehart's thirsty man in a dry land, Simon Oakland, Richard Jordan and Ralph Waite's vicious brothers - but one that never works quite as well as it could.
The first of his collaborations with Charles Bronson, it's surprising the star would work with him on another five films - Bronson is barely in the movie, with less screen time than many of his early supporting roles and has little to do here and doesn't do it particularly well. This wouldn't be a problem if Winner could build him into a mythic or primal figure to make his brief appearances more striking, but he's not even interestingly shot here. Instead the film focuses on the posse as the further it gets from civilization, the more it starts to tear itself apart as the strong become weak and the weak become ruthless. There's some good dialogue and the odd bit of rich writing and characterisation along the trail, but it's tempting to think what a better director with more of a feel for the landscape could have made more of it.
MGM/UA's Region 1 DVD is an acceptable widescreen transfer, though it's the cut US version - the German and French DVDs are the longer, bloodier European cut. The only extra is the original trailer.