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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most underrated westerns of all time...
Back in the glory days of 1980, Michael Bay was just a fifteen year old lad with a love of movies who would soon begin his enrolment at Wesleyan University. Bryan Singer too was a mere child, probably admiring films like The Long Riders with his buddy Ethan Hawke. It would take a further six years for John Mc Tiernan to carve his name in the Hollywood ladder and John Woo...
Published on 9 Aug. 2004 by Luisito Joaquín González

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow, sub-Peckinpah, so what?
I was recommended this title by someone in awe of the 'sensational' casting. Yes tis' true, four sets of brothers star in the film but that folks, is the most note-worthy aspect of this very slow and very empty western.

There is a profoundly dull and completely pointless sub-plot involving a hooker and one of the Younger brothers (David Carradine) that seems to...
Published 11 months ago by Jimbo


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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most underrated westerns of all time..., 9 Aug. 2004
This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
Back in the glory days of 1980, Michael Bay was just a fifteen year old lad with a love of movies who would soon begin his enrolment at Wesleyan University. Bryan Singer too was a mere child, probably admiring films like The Long Riders with his buddy Ethan Hawke. It would take a further six years for John Mc Tiernan to carve his name in the Hollywood ladder and John Woo was still finding his directorial roots in Southern China. The man to watch when it came to extremely stylised action was one Walter Hill, the creator of such awesome gun-totting avalanches as Extreme Prejudice, The Warriors and Johnny Handsome. Long since categorised as 'the' director for choosing style over content, Hill started out his career as a screenwriter. He penned The Getaway for Sam Peckinpah, who was obviously his idol, and in almost all of his movies he adds visual flourishes that are unsubtly reminiscent of Peckinpah's accomplishments. (Check out Extreme Prejudice where Hill almost out Peckinpahs Peckinpah!) Like all of cinema's greatest achievers, Hill had an unbridled love for the western. Over the length of his career, he would return to the genre again and again, giving us offerings that ranged from the large-scale excess of Geronimo: an American legend, to the smaller, but just as historically accurateWild Bill.
By far the best of his Western work, The Long Riders tells the tale of the James/Younger legacy, a slice of history that has been adapted for the silver screen on countless occasions. Perhaps the film's strongest and most alluring attribute is the fact that the cast contains real life acting siblings in the shape of the Carradines, the Keaches, the Guests and the Quaids as the band of outlaws. It's also one of the finest and most attractively crafted movies of its kind, equally as beautiful as Heaven's Gate and as tirelessly entertaining as Tombstone.
I doubt that fans of the genre will need any introduction to the exploits of Jesse James, so I won't bother to list a plot synopsis. But reportedly, this is one of the more accurate descriptions of the adventures of the infamous anti-establishment crusader. Frankly, if outings like Frank and Jesse and the dismal American Outlaws are anything to go by, it's also one of the best of the colossal bunch.
The thespian brothers hold up their ends with finesse, and without taking anything away from the Keaches who don't fail to entertain from start to finish, one can only wonder how the film could have turned out if Jeff and Beau Bridges would have been available to accept the leads. David Carradine gives a scene stealing performance, making the most of his 'relationship' with an incredibly sexy Pamela Reed as Belle Shirley. Props are certainly due to Randy Quaid for not over cooking his threats against the singer in the bar scene at the beginning, he comfortably makes those few short lines the best of the whole damn movie. It's a shame that James Keach could never make his star shine brighter on the Hollywood A-list. Even so, he still has one or two great performances to look back on with enough pride to show that he was once a force to be reckoned with on the tinsel-town ladder.
Being as this is a Walter Hill joint, all the flashy trademarks are rooted firmly in place, including the use of his ever-dependable cast alumni such as James Remar. Surprisingly enough, for a director that's famed for his love of stylised violence, there are very few gunfights throughout the runtime, which somehow makes them even more powerful when they do finally occur. The Northfield Minnesota ambush is perhaps one of the greatest shoot-outs of western history, utilising a great use of sound to make each bullet hit home with a stark sense of realism that's almost nightmare inducing. Co-ordinator Craig Baxley should take a bow for his constant but never over-excessive use of jaw dropping stunts. Bodies literally fly through the air with an exquisite force that manages to bring home the impact of a gunshot with adeptness. Long Riders also boats more than its share of accurately realised set locations. But unlike Michael Cimino, Hill never over indulges or looses the plot to period preciseness, so the sheen is never overpowering or unwelcome.
Although Long Riders may not hold the masterpiece status of such often-touted westerns as The Wild Bunch, Unforgiven or even Dances with Wolves, it's still a five star movie. It's superbly acted, impressively casted, flawlessly directed and it boasts some of the greatest music that you're likely to find this side of an opera. Many people often consider Tombstone to be 'the all time great popcorn western.' Well, I can only presume that's because they haven't actually seen this long forgotten classic slice of storytelling. If you're a fan of the Wild West and you've let this slip you by, then you need to be asking yourself why...
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Familiar tale finally Done Properly., 1 Oct. 2002
By 
MarmiteMan (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
Yet another reworking of one of America's favourite outlaws, Jesse James (others being Billy the Kid and Al Capone). For many Southerners with romantic yearnings for the Ol' Confederacy, Jesse James is the present-day students' equivalent of Che Guevara, and is often erroneously given the soubriquet of a 'latter-day Robin Hood' (who robbed from the Yankees to give to the oppressed Southerners o' Missouri). Other such films were Jesse James (1939), Jesse James Rides Again (1947), The Great Jesse James Raid (1953), The True Story Of Jesse James and The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1971) - all with various claims of 'authenticity.'

The true story of Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang is, of course, more complex. For a start, they hailed from the Clay County region of Missouri. After Appomatox, Raleigh and Kirby Smith's and Stand Watie's surrenders, many Missourians - notably 'Bloody Bill' Anderson and Quantrill's Raiders - did not regard the war as 'over,' continuing, in the name of the Confederacy, to harrass the Union with train hold-ups and bank-robberies, then seeking refuge among their tight-knit Missouri communities. Part of the folk hero cult status thus gained was also due to Eastern newspaper columnists and dime novelists sensationalizing these actually-criminal exploits. The original James-Younger gang broke up following the disastrous attempted bank-robbery, far from their home patch, in Northfield, Minnesota (7 September, 1876).

Jesse and Frank James got away, returned to their trusted Missouri surroundings, and attempted to revive their gang with new recruits. Although there were a few more train robberies, the 'great days' were over; their chief feat was simply to remain at large year after year, still possessing a certain flamboyance and style. But times had changed. The James could no longer inspire fear or loyalty in their own confederates - captured gang-members began to give details to the Pinkertons less reluctantly. Governor Crittenden pursuaded the railroads to offer $5,000 rewards for any members of the gang, and an additional $5,000 each for Jesse and Frank James. Finally, on 3 April, 1882, it was disaffected gang-members Bob & Charlie Ford that done laid poor Jesse James in his grave; they were as Dixie as fellow Missourians the James, Youngers and Millers [ten years later Bob Ford, Jesse's killer, was himself shot to death by a James partisan].

But The Long Riders is a Walter Hill film, so it's ingenious (four sets of real-life brothers), it's stylish (those neat dusters) ... and so is its violence. Hill learned his trade from The Master: Sam Peckinpah. A tip-o'-the-hat to the latter's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid is the McCorkindale barn shoot-out (with copious flying wood shavings and splinters), whilst another to The Wild Bunch's opening ambush scenes is the bungled robbery escape attempt from the alert citizenry of Northfield. Innovative are the slow-motion sequences with enhanced sound effects - no gunshots, just the flight and impacts of the bullets. Unfortunately, this is in mono; a remastering - even just for two-channel stereo - would be hugely welcomed by enthusiasts!

HISTORICAL NOTE: the wounded Youngers and Charlie Pitts were found near Madelia, west of Mankato, captured following a firefight [Pitts was killed], and brought back to Northfield in a cage. Upon entering the town Cole Younger hauled himself to his feet ... and received an ungrudging ovation from the townsfolk for achieving this feat ... despite 14 bullet wounds on/in him ...!

Walter Hill also guaranteed a great film by getting Ry Cooder to write the musical score. Cooder's trademark style adds both atmosphere and dust to the proceedings, including a neat rendition of the traditional Jesse James ballad.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant !, 19 Jun. 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
Maybe I`m having a mid-life crisis but I find myself watching this movie(which I only saw for the first time two years ago when it was shown on tv) repeatedly, probably about ten times in the last couple of years, and it gets better with each viewing. What`s so remarkable about this is that I don`t usually like westerns at all. But The Long Riders is just fantastic. The lack of "iconic" western stalwarts like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood et al is a significant contributing factor to the sheer class of this movie. The fact that I happen to like James and Stacy Keach and David and Keith Carradine helps a lot too. Not too sure about Randy Quaid though, who, to me, has the sort of face more suited to a comedy role.
Anyway, it`s a great movie all round. The music, from Ry Cooder`s slide guitar to the traditional songs and tunes, is inspired. The scene, near the end, where the gang attempt to rob the Northfield bank makes for compelling viewing and I have watched this particular part of the film countless times.
I think I`m addicted to this movie!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jesse - "We rob banks, Jim. We don`t need any checkin` !", 6 Feb. 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
Stylish Western with a soundtrack refreshingly different to the usual orchestral background music.
No drawn-out romantic subplots.
James Keach, Stacy Keach, David Carradine, Keith Carradine are all great, but especially the gruffly laconic, staring-eyed James Keach(Jesse James)who does some classic Western tough guy posing around, and the rough `n` rugged image is enhanced later in the film when he`s grown a beard for the unforgettable Northfield sequence - "Time lock, hell!...now you open that vault, mister, y`hear!".
The long grey coats worn by the gang was a great idea and adds to the overall style of the movie(although I can`t help thinking that for a gang intent on slipping discreetly into a small town to rob the bank, perhaps it wouldn`t have been advisable for all members of the gang to wear the same style of conspicuously light grey overcoat. But that`s the real world, this is a movie!).
The aforementioned Northfield bank raid sequence is a first class piece of Western cinematography, and absololutely thrilling. My only criticism of this part of the movie is that it should go on for longer, much longer, with even more slow-motion shooting. The bit where Frank, Cole, Jesse, Bob, and the somewhat compromised Jim, exchange gunfire with the townsfolk across the narrow street is so hard-hitting and exciting to watch that it`s a pity that we only get such fleeting glimpses of some of it, especially of Jesse James(James Keach again), whose pose, if you`re quick enough to pause the DVD for the split second the camera`s on him, is so darn classic and iconic, it would make a great poster in its own right.
The use of...ahem....sixty-shooters rather than the standard six-shooters is a crucial and effective piece of artistic licence that really comes into its own in that sequence.
In fact, the Northfield ambush and escape sequence is so good that the rest of the movie can, unfortunately, feel a bit anticlimactic, albeit it`s still good.
Jesse James - "Look this just ain`t no time to argue with you, Cole. Either you stay here and die, or you come with us."
Overall, I would recommend you buy this DVD. Main selling points are: the soundtrack, the slow-motion shootouts, those cool grey coats, James Keach`s Jesse James, David Carradine`s Cole Younger, the Northfield sequence -worth the price of admission on its own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We played a rough game... and we lost.", 10 July 2011
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
Walter Hill's The Long Riders was one of the few modern Westerns that managed to get the right mix between printing the legend and making it feel real. The umpteenth retelling of the Jesse James legend, though for once giving equal weight to the Younger and Miller Brothers, it may lack the brutal demythologising of Philip Kaufman's The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid or the poetry of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but it has enough strengths of its own to deserve a cult classic status that it hasn't quite achieved.

It was a difficult shoot, with Hill apparently rewriting much of the script on the cuff, which might explain its narrative economy, but the scars don't show. As you might expect from Hill, the action scenes are particularly well executed, but there's also a strong sense of place and community that gives the film an added weight. It's also particularly good at showing the way the Pinkerton detectives' heavy-handed ineptness had more to do with making them folk heroes than their own exploits. But while the film has a striking look that feels authentic without weighing the film down with trivial details, at heart there's not a great deal more substance than any of the preceding Jesse James films. The James-Younger gang may have got into the habit of robbing banks during the war and found they were good at it, but Cole Younger acknowledges they'd probably have ended up the same way if there hadn't been a war, and that's about as far as the film digs as far as motivation goes. At times this is more of a saga about families whose business just happens to be train and bank robbery, and the film's sibling casting - the Carradines, the Keachs, the Quaids and the Guests (as Bob and Charlie Ford) - works well in that context, though it's odd to see Dennis Quaid being surplus to requirements. James Keach's dark and brooding Jesse James isn't as well developed as you might expect, with David Carradine's Cole Younger and Stacy Keach's Frank James making the biggest impression. Pamela Reed is a Belle Starr well worth a knife fight ("What's the winner get?" "Nothin' you both ain't already had.") and Ry Cooder's score is superb (Cooder has an uncredited cameo as one of the musicians in the film).

It would have been interesting to see how the proposed sequel/prequel would have turned out - even though the film wasn't a big hit, it did well enough for United Artists to consider a followup with the same cast until Heaven's Gate put them off Westerns for good. But as this stands, it's more than good enough to stand on its own two feet and is easily one of the best of that last crop of 80s Westerns before the genre went into hibernation. MGM/UA's DVD is an acceptable widescreen transfer (though the UK DVD is missing a few seconds of illegal horse falls) but the only extra is a trailer - in an ideal world this would merit an audio commentary and an attempt to unearth John Carradine's deleted scene that would have added another generation to the mix.

Second Sight's Region B-locked Blu-ray release offers an excellent new one hour long German documentary. It's basically just talking heads with Walter Hill, James Keach and Robert Carradine, but although they're enthusiastic about the film it's not a gushing love-in and they talk at length about the creative reasons behind some of their decisions. Most of the meat is from Hill and Carradine, but it's choice stuff. There are also two featurettes from the same interview sessions that were obviously deemed too long for the documentary: one with Hill talking about his relationship with Sam Peckinpah and the different ways they used slow motion, the other a lengthy breakdown of shooting the Northfield Minnesota raid. The transfer of the feature isn't a huge upgrade from the DVD, though, and it's still missing four seconds of horse falls (ironic considering the discussion of avoiding hurting the horses in the supplements).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding western epic, 22 April 2009
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This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
A good few risks were taken when making this. Real life brothers were used to dipict the four sets of brothers which the film, in the main, revolves around.

Stacey and James Keech play Frank and Jesse James. David, Keith and Robert Carodine, play Cole, Jim and Bob Younger. Dennis and Randy Quaid play Ed and Clel Miller. The on screen chemistry really does work, as all performing rather convincingly in their roles. Within the gang, Jesse James and Cole Younger, who don't always see eye to eye, are cold and calculating.

The film follows the fortunes of this famous gang of bank robbers as they try to stay one step ahead on the Pinkertons. Some of the action is quite brutal, other parts are quite spectacular. The famous Belle Star is the romantic interest for Cole Younger (David Carodine), for which the consequence is a showdown with her new husband, Sam Starr, a giant knife wielding indian. You certainly will not forget this scene in a hurry.

There are shootouts a plenty, in particular the one near the end of the film, where the gang fall into a trap set by the town authorities.

So, in the main, spectacular, exciting and very realistic. The Guest Brothers play the slimy and treacherous Bob and Charlie Ford.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibling perfection., 24 April 2013
By 
Pete Johnson "Pete Johnson" (Norfolk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
This is a marvellous film from director Water Hill, made in 1980. It tells the story of the Jessie James gang, with their compatriots the Younger brothers, Miller brothers, and the Ford brothers. This is familiar stuff, well-trodden in film history. What makes this one different, is an unusual casting decision. They chose real acting brothers, to play the parts of brothers on screen. Stacy and James Keach play the James boys, with all three Carradines as the Youngers, and Randy Quaid and his brother Dennis, are the Millers. The Guest brothers, Christopher and Nicholas, complete the set, as the Fords.
This idea works so well, with the interplay between the characters completely believable, as well as some physical similarities adding to authenticity. There is obvious sympathy for the gang. Treated unfairly after being on the losing side during the Civil War, they seem to have little option other than to embark on a life of crime. The disastrous bank raid at Northfield Minnesota, contributing to the demise of the gang, is a brilliantly staged set piece. This is a hugely enjoyable, `modern' western, with a feel for the characters that goes beyond the normal `man with a gun' storyline.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow, sub-Peckinpah, so what?, 18 Mar. 2014
By 
Jimbo (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
I was recommended this title by someone in awe of the 'sensational' casting. Yes tis' true, four sets of brothers star in the film but that folks, is the most note-worthy aspect of this very slow and very empty western.

There is a profoundly dull and completely pointless sub-plot involving a hooker and one of the Younger brothers (David Carradine) that seems to exist solely as a precursor to a knife fight. This whole story takes up a great deal of the film's running time, which should give you an idea of the vapid sense of plotting.

There appear to be some half-baked allusions to the nature of loyalty and betrayal, but it really doesn't go anywhere. The characters are so uninteresting and unsympathetic that I was left struggling to care for anyone, except possibly the poor Pinkerton fellow who was continually one step behind the gang.

The Action when it happens is reasonably well staged but completely irrelevant, attempting to imitate Sam Peckinpah's signature slow-mo death and glory shoot outs, which here leave one cold and indifferent. Not good enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good., 30 Dec. 2014
This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
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Patchwork Western revisionism, full of as many holes as Cole Younger's bullet-riddled body. But there's something lovingly incomplete, elliptical, uneasy, yet altogether at peace with its own messiness. The end of a genre cycle? Maybe.

In terms of sheer force, the knife fight between James Remar and David Carradine is one for the ages, and the Northfield shootout may be Hill's most brutally frank treatment of violence on the human body. The male camaraderie he addresses in all of his other films becomes an even deeper connection here, something shared/broken between brothers. Collateral damage is high, unflinching, until the violence ends, one way or another.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars addenda, 6 Feb. 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Long Riders [DVD] (DVD)
I got so carried away with the Northfield sequence that I forgot to mention some of the weaker points of the movie.
Fans of those indulgently "epic", sweeping Kevin Costner style Westerns will be disappointed, as there`s not much in the way of character development or life story present here.
The movie is largely episodic and punctuated with self-contained set-pieces.
The dialogue is somewhat rudimentary and, in the case of the Ford Brothers, even comically so, and these two lesser characters fail to convince. "Are you scaard?" - "A little bit. Ah guess Ah am"
I agree with an earlier reviewer about Randy Quaid. That perm-top hairstyle didn`t help matters. Perhaps if he`d grown some facial hair...
The "halfbreed" Sam Starr looks out of place in this movie, almost like a caricature, and his scene feels like an interlude.
But it`s STILL overall a great Western movie.
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The Long Riders [DVD]
The Long Riders [DVD] by Walter Hill (DVD - 2001)
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