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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peckinpah's Masterpiece
This is among the classic westerns, one which must be seen only in the 145-minute director's cut version to be fully appreciated. Yes, it is an exceptionally violent film but none of the graphic violence seems to me gratuitous, unlike in some of director Sam Peckinpah's other films. Pike Bishop (William Holden) heads a gang which robs banks and trains. Deke Thornton...
Published on 26 Sep 2005 by Robert Morris

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, Poor DVD
The Print has an unnacceptable level of graininess, some of the scenes look great, some don't look remastered at all, compare this to the Warner Brothers release of Deliverance and the trnasfer is vastly inferior to that film. I will wait for another re-issue If I were a fan of this film.
Published on 17 Jun 2001


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peckinpah's Masterpiece, 26 Sep 2005
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Wild Bunch [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
This is among the classic westerns, one which must be seen only in the 145-minute director's cut version to be fully appreciated. Yes, it is an exceptionally violent film but none of the graphic violence seems to me gratuitous, unlike in some of director Sam Peckinpah's other films. Pike Bishop (William Holden) heads a gang which robs banks and trains. Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan) is a former member whom railroad owner Harrigan (Albert Dekker) arranges to be released from prison on the single condition that Thornton lead efforts to kill or capture Bishop and his gang. If he fails, he will be returned to prison. The quality of all performances is outstanding, as are Peckinpah's direction and the cinematography provided by Lucien Ballard.
The primary plot involves Thornton's efforts to complete his assignment but there are several interesting sub plots, notably one involving Coffer (Strother Martin) and his fellow scavengers. (Martin once observed that he and Dub Taylor specialized in portraying "prairie scum.") The opening scene shows a scorpion being consumed by fire ants. Coffer and his motley crew hope to have a similar opportunity to feast on what remains of the Bishop gang. I was also fascinated by the interaction between the Bishop gang and the Mexican federales (headed by General Mapache played by Emilio Fernandez) who also pursue them. Time eventually runs out. Bishop and his associates must decide: Either quietly depart with their tails between their legs or take a stand and probably be killed.
In my opinion, the final sequence justifies all of the violence which precedes it. Many of those who have seen this film are offended by its especially graphic portrayal of bloodshed. They have a point unless they take into full account the frontier culture in 1913 in which Bishop and his associates challenge all manner of conventions (as does Peckinpah) while fulfilling their destiny as robbers and killers. They are what they are. They have no self-delusions. None. Thornton is the only sympathetic character, Bishop's reluctant and weary adversary. In the last scene, his body language is especially eloquent. He and we feel spent. Enough. No more. It's over.
Question: Given the recent advances in technologies of various kinds, why does the visual and/or audio quality of DVDs often vary so much? Why can't "they" get it right every time?
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest, 27 Feb 2006
For me this rather than The Searchers or Red River is the greatest western ever.
I love it not for the violence but for the mournful tone that is omnipresent. unlike say Leone (whose work I love), Peckinpah makes films about the West rather than about other Westerns. The violence DOES remain shocking & exhilarating, despite the fact that he's been plagirised by directors in subsequent years. This is the DVD that finally does justice to a highpoint in American cinema, with a fine,loving but unsparing documentary. The film itself looks spectacular in this transfer and it comes highly recommended.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wild Bunch (Blu-ray version), 13 April 2010
This review is from: The Wild Bunch (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] [1969] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Released in America in June 1969 but not released in the U.K. until January 1970 nothing could quite prepare British audiences for the visual onslaught that this film is from the opening bank robbery scene with all and sundry being gunned down like nine pins.

The American director Sam Peckinpah long with the Italian director Sergio Leone who both re-invented the western from the Black and white hats of 40's and 50's to a more realistic form of storytelling where the lines between good and evil get blurred and the villains are all sweaty, dirty and despicable where they fight over a dead man's boots.

For the re-release of this film on DVD (which was a two-sided disc) in 1997 the running time went from 134 minutes to 145 minutes, this is the version that has been put out on Blu-ray in 2008 which is in 1080p resolution and has had its original six track sound track up-graded to Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound along with French stereo, Spanish mono and German mono, and Italian Mono there are plenty subtitles to choose from English, Castilian Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese & Swedish.

The restoration and transfer to Blu-ray has made the colours and sound of this cinematic masterpiece look as fresh as it did on its original 1969 U.S. release if you like westerns this is a must have in your Blu-ray collection
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnifique, 3 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Wild Bunch [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
I had never seen "Wild Bunch" before so decided to buy it after a strong recomendation. I wasn't disappointed. The film is fantastic. It has all of the elements that you would expect a western to contain. The action sequences speak for themself. The only downside to this great film is that the disc is a flipper. Why??? It seems that flippers are gone now, but why in the early days did they have to put such great films as "Goodfellas, The Rock, Air Force One and The Wild Bunch" on flippers. A MUST BUY DVD ANYWAY, EVEN THOUGH A BOX SET COULD BE ON ITS WAY VERY SOON.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peckinpahs masterwork, 14 Nov 2008
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Sam Peckinpah's struggles against alcohol and drug abuse have been well documented. But out of the fire of tragic lives, sometimes greatness is forged. We see it in the blazing sunflowers of Van Gough and the Polynesian beauties of Gaugin. We hear it in the music of Mozart and Sibelius. And so it is with Peckinpah who has left us with his legacy of films that place him on the top run in the pantheon of the worlds film makers. Films that transcend their own genre and which come awfully close to achieving greatness.

The Wild Bunch is Sam Peckinpahs masterwork, although "Ride the high Country" makes it a close run thing. It has a richness to it that gives it lasting power. While other films fade or disappoint when watching again, the Wild Bunch continues to mature like a good port. So many scenes that take the breath away. The carefully managed blowing up of the bridge. One of the great action shots in film history. A truly wonderful cast. The gaunt and ageing Pike Bishop played by an ill William Holden. Robert Ryan in perhaps the greatest role in his long career as the ex gang member. And what a supporting cast of old Peckinpah stalwarts. Ben Johnson ex world rodeo champion, Warren Oates, Ernest Borgnine and a gnarled and unrecogniseable Edmond O'Brien to name just a few. Great actors in their own right.

Mexico provides the background as it did in many of Peckinpahs films. The old West is on the way out and it is clear the gang have had their day. As Alan Ladd says to the very bad Jack Palance in Shane before gunning him down. "Your killing days are over." And so it is for the gang. The only difference is they have the choice of how to exit, and boy do they take it in the famous finale. It is a simple tale well told as many great stories are from Homer onwards. I have ridden with the bunch a few times now and it gets better each time. Look out for the scene near the end with the dust swirling around a prancing horse and rider through an archway. Beautiful. I recommend you also take a ride with the bunch. You will not be disappointed. Thanks to film they will thankfully be riding for many years yet and will not age as badly as us. In short, a magnificent film. Highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peckinpah's Greatest Masterpiece, 14 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Wild Bunch [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
I first saw this movie in 1970 and was stunned by it. I had seen nothing like it before. Unlike the Hollywood westerns of old, characters are not simplistically divided into "good" and "bad" men, heroes and villains. Instead, they are fully rounded, reflecting all the moral ambiguities of real people faced with desperate situations. The violence too, for which this film was controversial, is not the sanitised violence of earlier times. Although aestheticised (after all this is a work of art), it unflinchingly depicts the consequences when guns are fired and bullets strike human flesh. One of the finest films ever made about men in battle, and arguably the greatest of all westerns. A movie of tremendous power, far more moral, and honest, than todays mindlessly violent, special effects driven Hollywood actioners. See it!
The DVD is a restored 'directors cut' and is superior to the version which most movie goers will have seen at the cinema. My only criticism is that it is not anamorphic.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way", 1 April 2010
By 
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This review is from: The Wild Bunch (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] [1969] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Early 20th century.A group of Outlaws led by Pike(William Holden)who are finding that times are passing them by narrowly escape an ambush whilst robbing a Wells Fargo.A "posse"led by ex gang member Deke Thornton(Robert Ryan)who engineered the ambush pursue them into Mexico where the bunch attempt to set up one last haul by selling stolen guns to a mexican despot.

Sam Peckinpah's best film -with due respect to Pat Garrett and Ride THe High Country- is the greatest western ever made.Dialogue,cinematography,music,direction and editing are without peer in the genre.This the longest version at 145 minutes is splendid in blu ray with only the end sequence being somewhat grainy.

However what really sets The Wild Bunch apart in delivering Peckinpah's interpretation of a dying west is the acting.Here more so than in Pat Garrett,he assembled through luck,judgement whatever a group of actors that could just not be replicated today.Sure there are many fine actors around today but when one of the better ones of today Billy Bob Thornton says on the main doc that he was in awe of Warren Oates,you just know the Bunch would not work today.Career best turns from Holden and Borgnine are augmented by Ben Johnson, Oates, a wonderful Edmund O'Brien as Sykes and of course Robert Ryan whose ability to invest flawed characters with a vivid sense of honour was well in force here.The casting lower down is impeccable too with the superb L Q Jones and Strother Martin as two feral members of the posse being standouts.

The opening gun battle with Peckinpah juxtaposing the brutality and almost carnality of the combatants against the innocent children witnessing carnage that will haunt their childhoods forever is brillianty judged.Here on blu ray this sequence really comes alive with the muted colours,the street dust and the faces of the men being pin sharp.
The extras are the same as the standard def Two Disc Director's cut but for this film ,Blu ray is an essential purchase.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dark side, 19 Oct 2007
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wild Bunch [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
The Wild Bunch is a brutal masterpiece of a western. It depicts the end of the western era (the film is set in 1913) through a group of ageing outlaws who just want to pull off one more big job. In fact the west has already ended but they dont realise it yet.

From the opening bank raid to the bloodbath ending the film is brilliantly realised by Peckinpah. The casting is perfection. William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oats and Robert Ryan all give memorable performances. Although the film is actually quite depressing, it is strangely compelling viewing and the reason for this is that the characters do gain our sympathy. Curiously watching it again recently it occured to me that this film is the dark side of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Except in The Wild Bunch the cameras don't freeze at the end...

Ultimately the main credit goes to Sam Peckinpah who made a number of classic films. This is one of his best - a great movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "If they move, kill em.....", 3 July 2008
This review is from: The Wild Bunch [DVD] [1969] (DVD)
"Its time we started thinking beyond our guns, those days are closing fast," muses Pike (William Holden) shortly after the bloodiest shootout in cinema history. The shootout was the result of a botched robbery attempt, and it soon descended into chaotic carnage where Pike and his titular Wild Bunch are forced to shoot their way out of an ambush, killing a good portion of civilians in the crossfire.

This classic movie was released in 1969 in response to the hugely successful gay western `Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'. Butch Cassidy's huge success at the box office essentially green lit the way for Sam Peckinpah's vision of a changing wild west in The Wild Bunch.
It would be a travesty to think about The Wild Bunch in terms of its violence; it is a much better movie than that. It is indeed a violent movie, but it is also a solid drama that is well acted. The music (award winning Jerry Fielding), the script, editing (eg. the opening credits with the scorpions) and acting are second to none.

The story of the movie is ageless and such a similar story/plot can still be seen in contemporary cinema, i.e. in classics such as HEAT where the main characters (bank robbers) are dreaming of abandoning their violent ways and start living up to their oft-spoken ideals, after they achieve their dream of "one last job". This crime plot was never used with better results.

The screenplay by Peckinpah and Walon Green contains several other moments of brilliance. My personal favorites are the exchanges beside a campfire between the leaders of the group (Holden and Borgnine) regarding the state of their affairs. Says Holden, "I'd like to make just one last big score and then back off." "Back off to what?" replies Borgnine, implying that their violent pasts wouldn't allow them to simply settle down peacefully at this point in their lives. I also particularly enjoy Holden's commentary on his hubris-filled nemesis Harrigan: "There's an awful lot of people who just can't admit to being wrong, or to learn from it." "Pride," answers Borgnine simply and shrugs his shoulders. Other central themes in the screenplay include honor, integrity, companionship, and in the end, redemption.

In a masterstroke of casting The Wild Bunch is headed by the great William Holden (Bridge over River Kwai, Network) and supported by other great actors who are not prettyboy Refords or Newmans. In terms of editing The Wild Bunch abandons traditional sound and editing processes in favour of visionary new ones, and thus revolutionising the depiction of onscreen violence (nobody would ride a bike in a Peckinpah movie, and `Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head' would not be on the soundtrack).

The Wild Bunch was released in the same year as the second greatest Western ever made: `Once upon a time in the West' (Box office flop in USA). Like Sergio Leone, Peckinpah's mission was to pay homage to the classic Western while at the same time completely eviscerating it.
Unlike Leone, however, Peckinpah's Westerns aren't parodic or surreal. The Wild Bunch is set in a particular place (Mexico as opposed to the mythic nowhere of the Dollars trilogy) at an explicit time 1913, and Peckinpah wants us to empathise with these out-of-time characters despite the fact that they are cold blooded killers. Peckinpah's greatest achievement is that he succeeds.

Despite the violence there is camaraderie between the Wild Bunch members. The movies bleak tone is lightened with scenes of boozing and whoring. There is a lot of humour in the Wild Bunch: children and the scorpions; drunken fooling around with whores in the cellar; Old Sykes laughter over the films final moments.
By the movies end it is obvious that the Bunch cannot think beyond their guns; they try to rescue their friend (Angel).
"Lets go."
"Why not?"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Availiable in Westerns Collection boxset, 26 Nov 2012
By 
This review is from: The Wild Bunch (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] [1969] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
If you are a Westerns fan, you'd be better off getting the Westerns Collection Blu-ray boxset for about £12-£14, which contains, besides The Wild Bunch, The Searchers, Pale Rider, Rio Bravo, and How the West Was Won (excluding the 2nd cinerama disc- see blubeaver for screenshots).
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