Sandra F. (Sami) from ST PETERSBURG, FL Reviewed on 5/18/2008...
This was an excellent movie about the many aspects of professional bull riding. I loved this movie about a family involved with bullriding from a bull rider to a bull fighter to the raising of the bulls.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Two brothers, one bull
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 02/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The marketers positioned this movie as a love triangle between sibling rodeo cowboys (Kiefer Sutherland and Marcus Thomas) and a girl (Daryl Hannah), which is about as wide of the mark as missing the broad side of a barn. The key character who drives these brothers apart is their father, a champion bull rider, long retired, and long absent from their lives, played terrifically in a cameo performance by British actor Pete Postlethwaite. The old man gave all his attention to the one who took after him and scorned the other, who had the more tender heart. Then he left home, at the wrong end of a shotgun, pointed at him by the boys' mother, played wonderfully by Melinda Dillon. But his impact continues to be felt.Both boys grow up to become bullriders, like their father. Only one (Sutherland) opts out and turns his talents to being a rodeo clown (bull fighter) and raising rodeo stock, specifically a fierce bull that no cowboy can ride. Like the old man, the bull does his damage, but not before one of them has suffered a near-fatal accident after being named Rookie of the Year and then returns to the circuit against the wishes of brother, mother, and girlfriend (Molly Ringwald). Celia (Daryl Hannah), a barrel racer figures in there rather briefly as one of several things that estrange the two brothers. There's also pill popping, groupies, and angry outbursts. The two men are finally reunited and reconciled at the national bullriding finals in Las Vegas.From what I know of rodeoing, and it's not extensive, the representation of life on the circuit is pretty accurate. The slow motion photography used to heighten the dramatic tension during the rides is realistic only if you think of it from the perspective of the riders themselves, for whom eight seconds can surely seem close to an eternity. There's some depth to the script, and scenes are played in a way that let the characters seem more three-dimensional than your usual cowboy-hero movie. Sutherland, in fact, is interesting to watch as a self-conscious man who goes all clumsy around a woman he'd like to impress. Thomas needs only to look lean, a little haunted, and good in a pair of wranglers to convey the troubled, driven man who cannot stay away from a sport that has already nearly killed him. And he does all that nicely. Compared to a rodeo movie like "8 Seconds," about real-life bullrider Lane Frost, this one is not so predictable, a little grittier, less sentimental, and it doesn't go overboard in glamorizing rodeo. Here, for instance, the lovers split up and stay that way. In Garth Brooks words, "that damned old rodeo" takes its toll on everyone."
COWBOY UP DVD REVIEW 09/07/02
Ronald Scheer | 09/08/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well the long awaited release of this movie has come and gone with little recognition other than a few rodeo related websites. The movie is the best portrayl of bull riding by hollywood I have seen. I do feel like the film walks an edge with some of the lingo they use, but its as close to the real thing as I've seen.
The plot is alright yet the charicters are fairly deep. As far Marcus Thomas goes playing Ely Braxton, he lacks a real believable connection as a bull rider. He comes across as an un inspired, directionless, careless, dare devil with no real reason to ride bulls other than to irrate those around him.
Kiefer Sutherland gives a good performance as the older bullfighter brother Hank Braxton. Molly Ringwald is good as the girlfriend of Ely.
Overall the movie is good. The action shots with bulls is alright and the pace of the movie is slow but not boring. As far as true-to-the-sport goes it gets pretty close, yet has enough to keep the un-intiated entertained.
If you don't mind spending about [price]on it, its a good movie, but if your expecting to get a masterpiece, save your money."
A simple twist of fate
Elaine Greywalker | Richmond VA USA | 05/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I enjoyed seeing other dimensions of Darryl Hannah, Kiefer Sutherland and Molly Ringwald. The experience was like looking into a parallel dimension. I also enjoyed learning about the world of bull riding (even if fictionalized). In my opinion the star is Marcus Thomas whose performance makes the show a lot more than Hollywood Does Country. I also enjoyed the little touches of country living authenticity like Connie's home and the ranch. The pace of the story let me take in all the details. There's enough bull riding, fighting and intrigue for variation. I enjoyed the slow motion. I've watched TV bull riding events and it's over too fast to really see anything. I recommend this for couple viewing. A nice romance, a good ending and some necessary roughness. Oh, and good music."
For Kiefer Sutherland fans only
Steven Hellerstedt | 08/14/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Young Ely Braxton (Marcus Thomas) is an up and coming rodeo bull rider who suffers a movie opening Serious Injury. Brother Hank (Kiefer Sutherland) is the responsible older brother who raises bulls, teaches a zen-ish style of bull riding (`Empty your heart of hate before you ride,' that kind of thing) and is a rodeo clown - the fellow who distracts the bull after its thrown his rider and, reasonably enough from the bull's point of view, wants to crush into pulp the prone body of the thrown rider.
I've kind of made a point of searching out and watching rodeo movies. There aren't a lot of them, and most concentrate on the maverick qualities of the rodeo rider. Always a bull rider, by the way. Most, too, feature some heavy hitters - guys like Steve McQueen and Cliff Robertson - in the lead roles. COWBOY UP is a little different. Bull riding is more of a backdrop here, a setting against which sibling rivalry, a search for a lost father, and some sticky romantic entanglements can be played out. Not that we don't get a LOT of slow-motion shots of mucus draining bulls bucking and snorting and doing their best to toss and trample their tormenters (again, `tormenters' from the bull's point of view.) It's just there's a whole lot more soap than horse in this opera.
Which wouldn't be so bad if the second lead, Marcus Thomas, was a polished actor. Unfortunately his one expression seems to be that of stunned introspection, as thought on the first day of the shoot a crew member had asked him a preposterous question that he couldn't get out of his head. Thomas is talking to a grip, say, on that first day, and the grip wonders out loud whether birds would have to fly if they had opposable thumbs. Thomas guffaws, of course, but every time the studio lights fire up the question returns to gnaw at him, and when he should be `in the moment,' or whatever it is actors say, with movie girlfriend Connie (Molly Ringwald,) instead he's picturing a southbound autumn highway with clusters of hitchhiking ducks.
I'm not sure it matters, anyway. The story's kind of an ill-fitting hybrid to begin with. Things become more complicated later when young Ely hooks up with pretty rodeo horse rider Celia Jones (Daryl Hannah,) brother Hank's old flame, which supplies just enough plot to propel the film to the grand finale. Ely's search for his missing father is resolved, although that search was so unstressed in the movie I didn't even realize it was a Big Issue until it was on me. And, of course, as in almost all rodeo movies, Ely gets to ride the big bull, preferably the one who threw him earlier. In this case the big bull is Zapata, one of brother Hank's bulls, in fact.
I've never been a big fan of Kiefer Sutherland, but he's great in this one. Ringwald, Hannah, and Melinda Dillon - the mother in both `Close Encounters of the Third Kind' and `The Christmas Story' - are wasted as sideline fodder who have little more to do than seduce or wring their hands and hope Ely gets some sense and give up the bull riding. The highlight of the movie for me came when, while Hannah and Thomas were deep in their fling, Ringwald and Sutherland shared a piece of consolation pie at the local diner. Ringwald, inevitably I guess, says to Sutherland, `In a different world you and I would have made a lot more sense.' Hey, Molly - in a different and better movie you and Sutherland would have made a lot more sense, too. COWBOY UP might appeal to hard-core rodeo fans, but the rest of us would be better advised to steer clear of this one. "
Nicole S. Porter | 04/01/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This movie could have been so much more than it is. It offers up more wasted potential than an "American Idol" audition.
First, there's the angle of the absent father. While we're thrown some teasers - and even a pseudo-reunion between him and Ely - we are not ultimately emotionally satisfied with the outcome. There's no real resolution, no deep truth.
Then there's the angle of the "love triangle." This never took off, simply because Celia and Hank had no further interaction once she and Ely took up together. And then, Ely parted ways with her entirely. Through all this, Hannah delivers no stunning performance. Her character is fairly two-dimensional at best.
And then there's the "drive to win" that Ely is supposed to evince. This never really appears. We're just supposed to understand how driven he is by his brooding looks and foolhardy acts.
I will give kudos to the slow motion filming sequences in the beginning and the end. They are affective. However, we could've done with a little less bull drool flying through the air like a trapeze act.
All in all, this movie is plagued by wasted potential. The waste of Molly Ringwald's character is especially troubling. Why even introduce her, if she isn't going to play a pivotal role in what happens with Ely and Hank? A lot of this film seeming plodding and pointless.
I wanted to like this movie. I truly did. I'm a whopping huge PBR fan, and desperately wanted to like this movie. However, the movie itself prevented me from doing so. "