Directed by Burt Kennedy
Starring Yul Brynner, Robert Fuller, Warren Oates, Claude Akins, Jullian Mateos
Just like the original The Magnificent Seven illustrates that Hollywood has a tradition of exploiting great material from foreign shores. The Return of the Magnificent Seven is an example of Hollywood’s long tradition of cashing in on success with mediocre sequels.
At the end of The Magnificent Seven only three of the seven are alive. Chris, played by Yul Brenner the only returning actor from the original, Vin played by Steven McQueen in the original and Robert Fuller in the sequel, and Chico, with Julian Mateos replacing Horst Buchholz. While Chris and Vin ride off into the sunset Chico stays behind to live the simple pastoral life in the village they saved from bandits. The simple life lasted for several years but all good things come to an end. In this case the end comes in the person of Lorca. Lorca and his band of raiders attack the village and drag off all the men they don’t kill. Petra, Chico’s wife and their young son search out Chris to request his help in saving Chico and the rest of the men of the village.
Meanwhile Chris is still knocking around Mexico doing what he does best, selling his services as a gun fighter. Vin runs into Chris at a bull fight and informs him that he has a price on his head. It’s not much of a price, 500 Pesos, but Vin decides he ought to ride with Chris awhile just in case somebody tries to collect. So Chris and Vin are together when Petra finds them and persuades them to help the village once more. After Petra informs the two that they will be facing at least fifty armed bandits, they know that two will not be enough. Luckily Chris knows everyone in Mexico and begins to recruit another four men for the mission. Logically the first place he looks is the local jail where he bribes the jailer to release two gunman with reputations and a need to get out of town. The third recruit is a womanizing cowboy who also finds himself needing to get out of town. The last man of the bunch is a cocky young troublemaker looking for adventure.
The six are soon made seven when they find Chico. It turns out that Lorca has enslaved the villagers to rebuild a church where his two sons were killed fighting off another bandit gang. He is rebuilding the church to honor his two lost sons. After Chris and the gang show up and prove they have the backbone to stand and fight, Lorca and his men ride out. Chris knows that the respite is only temporary and sets about preparing the half completed church and the villagers for the inevitable attack.
While Yul Brenner is the only returning actor from The Magnificent Seven it’s not as if the sequel lacks star power. Robert Fuller, Claude Akins and Warren Oates can all act,they just don’t do much of it here. All of the performances are on the clunky side. The story is rough as well, the recruitment scenes are rushed and treated like a box that has to be checked off on the way to the gun battle. The motivation of Lorca and his bandits comes across as silly. It’s just not made believable that a bandit would go to so much trouble to rebuild a church of all things. The one redeeming element of the film is the Elmer Bernstein score and even while the score is excellent it is simply repeating themes and motifs from the original movie. The bottom line is that The Return of the Magnificent Seven doesn’t offer anything new and the reheated leftovers it offers up aren’t that great.
The video is presented in wide screen format on a dual layer 50GB disc. It’s encoded at 31 MBPS. The image is generally good. The color is rich but not over saturated but the blacks can get a little mushy. There is a lot of detail but it comes with a fair amount of grain. For all it’s flaws the image is generally good, but this is not the disc you will put in to convince your buddies they can’t live with out Blu-Ray.
The audio is presented in English in 5.1 Surround sound only. There are English, Spanish and French subtitles. The sound is good if not spectacular. It is well mixed with the score and dialog blended well. The Elmer Bernstein score though is the one thing in this movie that is truly magnificent. The main trumpeted motif is one that has been copied over and over, including from the original movie.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The disc comes in the standard blue tinted Blu Ray case with the iconic image of the seven prominently displayed on the front cover. The menu is simple and easy enough to navigate. The only extra material is a trailer.
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10
The biggest problem with The Return of the Magnificent Seven isn’t that it is a mediocre movie, plenty of mediocre movies can be a fine way to kill a couple of hours. The problem is that if I want to kill a few hours watching a movie like The Magnificent Seven I’ll just watch The Magnificent Seven.
The Movie 4/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 4/10
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10