Robert Aldrich pulls no punches in his unrelentingly brutal story of a reign of terror perpetrated on Arizona settlers by a bitter Apache warrior and the cavalry's frustrated attempts to stop him. Burt Lancaster, a longtim... more »e Aldrich collaborator and star of the similar 1954 Western Apache, brings his laconic, quietly authoritative presence to the role of McIntosh, a blunt-speaking, introspective old army scout with more respect than hate for his enemy. A very young Bruce Davison is the green-as-a-sapling Lieutenant DeBuin, fresh from West Point and filled with Christian ideals, thrown into the field against the vicious, tactically brilliant Ulzana. DeBuin is shocked and appalled at Ulzana's brutality--torturing male homesteaders to death, raping the women, leaving a trail of mutilated corpses--and as he struggles to understand Ulzana his values of Christian charity soon melt into racist hatred. Ulzana's tactics were familiar to Americans in 1972 who followed the war in Vietnam and the guerrilla attacks of the Vietcong. Like The Wild Bunch before it, Ulzana's Raid removes the sentimentality of Western ideals in its harsh portrayal of the violent world, though unlike Sam Peckinpah, Aldrich leaves the violence off-screen and allows the audience to see only the horrific aftermath. (These scenes are often graphic and not recommended for the squeamish.) It's a disturbing and powerful film, where the concept of good guys and bad guys becomes meaningless and the battle between cultures ultimately comes down to survival in a harsh world. --Sean Axmaker« less
Robert S. Clay Jr. | St. Louis, MO., USA | 02/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Burt Lancaster made an offbeat little group of western movies in the early seventies ("Lawman," "Valdez is Coming," and "Ulzana's Raid") that managed to transcend the typical western cliches of "a man, a horse, and a gun." "Ulzana's Raid" is a fine film of the culture clash between white people and the Apache. Movies typically make one group or the other the "good guys." For years, white people were portrayed heroically, and Native Americans were portrayed as murderous savages, only good for six-gun fodder. Later, some films (e.g., "Dances With Wolves") reversed the pattern and made Native Americans noble, brave, and admirable while white people were portrayed as cowardly, cruel, and shallow. Thankfully, this film cuts through the nonsense of personal biases and politically correct causes, and portrays both sides as three-dimensional human beings caught in a hopeless conflict. An Apache named Ulzana leads a samll party of warriors off their Arizona reservation, and they launch a brutal campaign of murder and violence. A world-weary Indian scout named McIntosh (Lancaster) and the enigmatic Apache soldier scout Ke-Ni-Tay (Jorge Luke) are ordered to guide a cavalry detail in pursuit of the war party. Lt. DeBuin (Bruce Davison) commands the soldiers. The inexperienced Debuin has a modicum of military training, but doesn't understand the Apache and their seeming ruthlessness. Debuin comes from a religious background, and he initially struggles with the belief the Apaches should be extended the hand of Christian fellowship, and not hunted down as animals. Viewers of the film share a learning experience in Apache practices and motivations through Debuin's eyes. After the grisly victim of an Apache raid is found Ke-Ni-Tay explains to the bewildered lieutenant the Apache concept of personal power taken from a conquered enemy. As the story unfolds, we find there is little essential difference bewteen the two cultures. Both are capable of extreme cruelty, racial hatred, and cunning. Both cultures endure sorrow and suffering in warfare. The vaunted courage of the Apaches is portrayed somewhat ironically because much of the violence they commit is against defenseless homesteaders. The chicanery of the corrupt Indian agent at the reservation displays the doubtful integrity of many white Americans in their treatment of Native Americans. The U. S. Army's by the book approach of dealing with the "Indian problem" speaks volumes of the white man's insensitivity. Ironically, DeBuin's repugnance at the cruelty of the Apaches boils over in racist comments directed at Ke-Ni-Tay. McIntosh, the ultimate realist, knows hating the Apache for their cruelty is like "hating the desert because there is no water on it." Deal with it for it is without illusions or idealistic visions.This film is an excellent portrayl of a bitter struggle in a grim land. There are no winners in this conflict, only losers. There is enough action to please outdoor fans. The intelligent script is thought provoking. The story is tightly drawn, and the movie doesn't waste time on unnecessary dialogue or sub-plots. The violence is realistically portrayed, but not glorified. Family viewing is not advised. For those viewers interested in an intelligent western movie that moves well beyond the typical cliches, this film is highly recommended."
FULL-SCREEN (ALAS...) VERSION OF A SUPERB WESTERN
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 11/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really don't understand what's going on in the mind of the people who decide which movies may have the honor to be released in the DVD standard. Take Robert Aldrich's ULZANA'S RAID for instance. Everybody knows or at least should know that only the curious ones and the movie lovers would bought this 1972 movie and that this category of viewers prefers a wide-screen version than a butchered version of the movie they choose. Alas, it seems that our beloved DVD producers are the sole unaware of this fact. Shame on them.As usual, Robert Aldrich doesn't present in this film what the majority of people would expect from a mainstream western. All the characters featured in ULZANA'S RAID have a good reason to act the way they did, even Ulzana, an apache parked in a reservation, almost starving and deprived from his pride. The scout Burt Lancaster (or the director Aldrich) doesn't judge nor hate Ulzana, he's just scared to death of what could do a bunch of bloody warriors to farmers lost in the Arizona desert.Aldrich, like Samuel Fuller, is a punching-ball director who likes to shake his audience so let's enjoy this dreadful vision of the West when men were searching frontiers, geographical and ethical.A DVD zone your library. And for the garbage can as soon as a wide-screen version is available."
Bleak Narration of a Rough Chase.
Maximiliano F Yofre | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 12/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Aldrich is a well known film director with more than 30 titles in his account. Many are great "hits" as "The Dirty Dozen" (1967) and "What ever happened to Baby Jane?" (1962) and some are standard stuff. Apaches and the Wild West figure more than once in his filmography as "Apache" (1954) and "Vera Cruz" (1954).
When he directed this movie he was almost ending his career and felt free to take some risks. This film is risky and gives a stern look to Apache and White Men confrontation. Many of the scenes presented are cruel and barbarous but not gratuitous. They blatantly are inquiring for "Why this cruelty?" and the explanation come from Ke-Ni-Tay's mouth, voicing Apache's beliefs and traditions, giving a rationale to their procedures. I've recently reviewed some films dealing with similar subject, not one of them is as bluntly direct and believable as "Ulzana's Raid". Aldrich's movie shows no "Blue Coat Heroes", no "Native Shining Knights". Shows just rough men immersed in a deadly confrontation trying their best to outsmart and annihilate the enemy. Yet, best human traits still emerge from this dry opus: self-sacrifice and loyalty; need for understanding and respect for the defeated.
The story centers in a group of nine Apaches leaded by Ulzana, which flee San Carlos Reservation and start a raid, creating havoc and devastation in their path. A small detachment conducted by a very "green" Lieutenant, an old White scout and an Apache scout follow the rogue party to put an end to their "amok run".
Burt Lancaster fleshes McIntosh with all his skill depicting a hardboiled scout having to bear the "authority" of the inexperienced military. Jorge Luke as Ke-Ni-Tay, Joaquin Martinez as Ulzana, Bruce Davison as Lt. De Buin and Richard Jaeckel as the Sergeant are very convincing. A tough movie to watch, not commendable for young and/or impressionable audience. Nevertheless a "keeper" if you like "untamed realistic" Western! Reviewed by Max Yofre. "
Maximiliano F Yofre | 09/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being an author and Indian War researcher, I just have to take a minute and tell anyone interested in the Indian War conflicts in the 1867-1890 period of our western settlement to take note. This movie is a motion picture in real time action of what it was actually like in the southwest territory during the Indian War period. The Writer/Director and technical assistants have gone well above the Hollywood norm to bring to you the actual sights and sounds of small unit cavalry actions against Apache Indian hostiles, and have left no stone unturned. The panoramic scenery is a bonus in itself. The Apaches helped write the book on guerilla warefare and this is what this movie is about. The small Apache hostile band depicted in the movie were terrorists, make no mistake about it, and their acting is superb as well as their movement and presentation. Every scene in this movie and it's script is as if it were taken directly from official war department reports in the National Archives. Every still frame could be mounted on a wall as a portrait. Even the proper number of buttons on uniforms, horse equipment, and the exact firearms used (with the exception of a few Winchester model '92'rifles)are correct as well as the Army-Scout-civilian personal inter-action and relationships. The Apache warrior dress, mindset and demeanor is exact. Their knives and motives are razor sharp. Of all the motion pictures I have studied beginning with "They died with their boots on" to date, this one is the real thing. From the very first scene until the last, there are NO mistakes. It shares the absolute terror, fear and uncertainity of this type of warfare with it's viewer. You have no choice. This is not a "Hollywood Western" in anybody's book. It is a Classic. It is a brutal, no holds barred, brilliantly directed and performed production. It should be viewed in high school or college classes to drive home a very true and clear picture of the cultural clashes involving the settlement of the west and civilization everywhere. It would open some eyes. If you want an action filled evening's entertainment with popcorn, this is it. If you want to see what the Indian Wars were really like and ride in the saddle, Apache or Cavalry, this is it. The situations in the film can be just as easily repeated today. Please don't let this one pass by you, even if you only see it once in your life. It's a keeper. When it's finished, remind yourself as you turn off your system that things like this DID happen, and probably will happen again in our history. The Writer/Director did the homework for you on this one. It's a undusted classic. As for Burt Lancaster? Just watch it. Thank you."
An Aldritch/Lancaster classic but 1:33!!
Maximiliano F Yofre | 09/25/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Lancaster's brilliantly understated portrayal of a war weary indian scout must rank as one of his best ever screen performances. 'Ulzana's Raid' is an unusual and insightful Western, it daringly tries to peel back the established stereotypical images of this genre giving us a more three dimensional take on the usual cast of Western characters, even the eponymous Ulzana is allowed a credible flesh and blood character instead of the more accepted cardboard cutout redskin. It's this willingness to train a fresh eye on the native American indians and their adversaries that sets 'Ulzana's Raid' apart from other, more run of the mill Westerns. The downside to this disc is it's presentation, I'm not sure in what aspect ratio 'Ulzana's Raid' was originally released but I'm pretty sure it wasn't 1:1.33 - what a shame a little gem like this couldn't have been given a fresh full-screen transfer to justify it's release on this exciting new format."