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Jack Bull [DVD] [1999] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

John Cusack , John Goodman , John Badham    DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: 2.59
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Jack Bull [DVD] [1999] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Sweet Vengeance [DVD] + True Women [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: John Cusack, John Goodman, L.Q. Jones, Miranda Otto, John C. McGinley
  • Directors: John Badham
  • Writers: Dick Cusack, Heinrich von Kleist
  • Producers: John C. McGinley, Cammie Crier, D.V. DeVincentis, Daniel C. Mitchell, Doug Dearth
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 31 Aug 1999
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305504024
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,031 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



The Jack Bull was produced for and premiered on American television network HBO, but it's easily the most respectable job that feature director John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, WarGames) has done in the past two decades. The title refers to a metaphorical Jack Russell terrier that, once it's annoyed enough to close its jaws on something, will hang on to the point of death. This terrier is Myrl Redding (John Cusack), a horse breeder of limited means who has a deeply entrenched sense of justice. His independence galls Henry Ballard (L Q Jones), the crusty land baron out to set his brand on most of the countryside. Ballard insults and cheats Redding several times over and his men beat Redding's Indian horse trainer and friend (Rodney A Grant). When Redding seeks redress from the law, its agents can't be bothered as the local magistrate is in Ballard's pocket. So Redding musters a vigilante army to enforce his own law.

Scratch this handsome but rigorously unromanticised Western—a full hour passes without a shot being fired--and you find the classic Heinrich von Kleist book Michael Kohlhaas transposed to Wyoming Territory on the eve of statehood. The script--by the star/producer's dad, Dick Cusack--is sturdy and uncompromising and willing to engage the knotty ambiguities of embracing vigilantism even in a just cause. Badham's decision to treat the authorities (Scott Wilson, Jay O Sanders, John Goodman) as period caricatures is regrettable but John Cusack is solid as a figure of utterly matter-of-fact integrity. --Richard T. Jameson,

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic TV movie! 29 July 2003
By Magneto
I can't believe I'm the first person to review this film, what is in my opinion one of the best made-for-tv movies ever. Fans of John Cusack should already have seen this, but if you haven't I urge you to buy a copy quickly before it gets deleted, because John gives one of his best-ever performances.

This is a western, and the story in a nutshell (no spoilers) is this; Cusack is forced to leave two of his horses with a local rancher, only to return a few weeks later and find they have been badly treated. Cusack then asks that the horses be cared for properly and returned to the condition he left them in, to which the rancher has absolutely no intention of doing. From here on Cusack does everything he can to see that justice is served. But no matter how hard he tries, or how honourable his intentions are, nothing seems to go his way...and suffer's some dire consequences along the way.

The character of Myrl Redding (Cusack) is one of honour, integrity and morals, but the film never descends into melodrama which it could of have so easily. There's also a strong supporting cast including L.Q. Jones (the main bad guy), and John Goodman who gives a great performance as the judge who - though upholding the law - realises that the wrong man suffers at the hands of "justice". Also look out for Miranda Otto (Cusack's wife) who later went on to star in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Ultimately though, this is John Cusack's film and he gives a powerhouse performance. Its hard to believe that The Jack Bull never had a theatrical release, becasue with it's strong cast, script, direction (John Badham - Saturday Night Fever) and acting - it deserved one.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On a par with Unforgiven 4 Aug 2006
By Mr. Stephen Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
What fantastic value DVD this is. Hard to believe this was a TV movie - kudos to HBO, once again.

This is an un-romanticised view of the West - telling it like it was. A man of integrity might get justice in one way, but it will cost him dearly in another. From photography in washed out colours, to the slow burn build of events that means guns don't actually get used until late in the movie, this is set out to be both realistic and unflinching. This asks the question - Just what is the value of going vigilante? What is the real cost? Is getting the justice you ask for worth any price? And the wonderful (and certainly non -Hollywood) thing is, you are left to make up your own mind, there are no easy answers.

John Cusack is just terrific here - you might find it a stretch to see him in a Western, but he is utterly credible in a tough role. Miranda Otto as his wife is perfect casting, and in fact the whole supporting cast is spot on - except maybe some of the chief decision makers of the territory who are somewhat two dimensional. Enjoy John C. McGinley (Perry from `Scrubs') in a minor role, and John Goodman in a pivotal role - albeit only in the last third of the movie.

Music by Lennie Niehaus is similar but less minimalist than his score to Unforgiven, and adds in a wonderful way to the poignancy of the movie, along with some spectacular landscapes which crop up from time to time. I'm sure Dick Cusacks (john's dad) would be proud of the end result of his script, produced by his son.

Don't be put off by the fact this is a TV movie - it certainly rises way beyond its genesis to be something of a classic, born from the mould of `Unforgiven'.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, no bull 18 Jan 2005
An excellent movie. Powerhouse performances by John Cusack and John Goodman. In fact, I don't think there's much, if anything, that can be said against The Jack Bull. It's a realistic movie, and decidedly tragic. Don't let that little fact put you down though, because it's what adds dimension to this drama/western. A movie that will make you think... and watch again...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unexpected Gem 26 July 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Put aside the made-for-TV tag, there is absolutely nothing about this film that would provide even a clue to its origin. Is it, as suggested, as good as Unforgiven? I thought not, although you would be perfectly justified in thinking differently; admirers of one will admire the other and likewise enjoy. One difference between the two is that Unforgiven is universally and somewhat famously acknowledged to be a film representing the top of the game, the Western you would recommend to someone who doesn't like Westerns - or thinks they don't. As such you inevitably sit down with expectations set high and it is hard to be more than `just' deeply satisfied. The Jack Bull though, is the unexpected gem, and as such you can be surprised and delighted in a way Unforgiven cannot deliver. Beware though that you can also be saddened, another difference is that there is no passing human good in Unforgiven to lament.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TV movie- Great 15 Jun 2008
Why it never played on the big screen is a mystery to me. It certainly rivals any western to have come out of Hollywood in quite some time although without the graphic violence, sex and profanity. True, there are some scenes laced with profanity but these are few and far between. The violence is under-stated and restrained.

The film's title refers to the Jack Russell breed of terrier which is said to never let go once it latches on. Myrl Redding is like the Jack Russell in his tenacity. It is justice he wants and justice he will have, even if it means the loss of everything he holds dear.

His resolve will be sorely tested as he launches a very personal vendetta against rural Wyoming bully, Henry Ballard, masterfully played by L.Q. Jones. The Jack Bull's plot is riveting and beautifully acted by the entire cast. Watch for an astonishing performance from Drake Bell. This star is a dead-ringer for a young John Cusack. I would not be surprised if he were a distant relative.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 17 days ago by Lee Sanderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Mess and mud, injustice and love in the old West USA
The Jack Bull is a beautifully crafted movie. It's based on a true story so it's rather sad...With happiness here & there. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Jenny Rainbird
5.0 out of 5 stars A man's obstaninance.
A great story with good acting and even though it has not been advertised globally, it should have been promoted widely internationally..
Published 5 months ago by ccwilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Jack Bull
Cusack and Goodman are fantastic I really like this film apart from the bit where 'he writes a letter for no reason other than to carry the plot forward' but you can't help... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Hunnymonster
3.0 out of 5 stars I'll watch Cusack in anything!
A superb little movie with another powerhouse performance from the inimitable John Cusack. I enjoy most of his movies but I wondered how he'd fare outside of a contemporary... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr. S. Storey
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Film
Without a doubt this Film rates along with the best in my collection.I was attracted to it by other reviews and I was not disappointed. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Big D
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh for more Television Movies!!
I was first attracted to this film by the Title and when i read some reviews, i knew that i had to purchase it and i have not been disappointed, to the contrary in fact, this film... Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2010 by B. D. Compton
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't Quite Live up to its Pedigree.
With its fine production values this made for TV movie is one that certainly deserved a theatrical release. Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2010 by Bob Salter
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