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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 November 2012
The Hatfields and McCoys generated the saying, 'The real McCoy'. This is a hardened piece of genuine history. Two confederate soldiers in The Civil War; 'Devil' Anse Hatfield went AWOL leaving his friend Randall McCoy in a delicate situation with the Union army. The dispute carried on to land possession. The Hatfields settled in West Virginia and the McCoys nearby in Kentucky separated by the Tug River.

Hostilities grew rapidly between the families starting with the death of McCoys' brother Harmon at the hands of 'Uncle' Jim Vance, a vicious man brilliantly played by Tom Berenger, allied to disputes regarding land. This is the kick-start in much of the malignment between the families. The family leaders, Anse Hatfield (Kevin Kostner) and Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton), are expertly portrayed, decent men who become embroiled in an inflammatory family feud of hatred and revenge. Once the ball starts rolling, the clans recruit families, friends and neighbours into bloody confrontations. Shootings, reprisals, and revenge become paramount keeping upperhand position, largely borne by stubborness and vindictiveness from younger family acquaintances. What happened between two men exploded into the families. The death count climbs, needlessly, yet inevitable given the gung-ho attitude of the rival opponents who see the situation as a challenge between the families. Who is the bravest or best shot and how can we shoot the opposition under cover?

The women are strong. Sarah Parish as Levicy Hatfield and Mare Winningham as Sarah (Sally) McCoy are totally commited in support of their families, yet have to bear witness to their loved ones needlessly slaughterered. Their emotions are subdued yet eventually become apparent as the destruction of lives continues.
Johnse Hatfield (Matt Burr) is a loose cannon who thinks nothing in his often drunken state to inflame a potentially explosive situation with Roseanna McCoy, (Lindsay Pulsipher), with a pregnant outcome and later with her cousin Nancy (Jena Malone), a manipulative, devious woman who is not averse to provoking the rivalries for her own satisfaction.

As the death toll rises, the families end up forming posse-type clashes. Bounty hunters spring up including the brutal Frank Philips (Frank Howard) for the McCoys whilst Anse Hatfield retaliates with his own loyal group as they square up at the 'Battle of Grape Creek'. There is a feeling throughout this epic series that the main rivals are realising the futilty of a never-ending of conflict. Youth and loss of the real spleen-venting origins of the feud go by the by and are carried along as a run-of-the mill adventure until they are, or see their loved ones, killed. Putting a stop to it is another matter. Reconciliation of some form between the family heads is the only likely possibilty. Memories are long and carried beyond this mid-late 19th century confrontation. Policed by self-imposition, Anse's older brother Judge Hatfield (Powers Boothe) tries but is a sacrificial lamb.

This 2 DVD collection is split into 3 episodes ( originally five on channel 5 TV with dreaded adverts). Period, filmed in non-colour sepia tones ,(not black and white), reproduces the time. An authentic tobacco-spitting, shoot-up with pride and foolishness, some musical fiddling, lots of stubborness and stupidity by the men, borne on the shoulders and strengths of the matriarchs who really are the backbone of the others' frailties and they know it.

Extras are a featurette of 'The Making of the Hatfields and McCoys', and a music video featuring Kevin Costner and Modern West.
Loved every minute. Slow to start but the characters did need an introduction in view of the huge numbers in the families with the need to sort out who belongs to who on the two sides (beards, hats, horses and guns don't help). Given that, this is a wonderful working of real 'Cowboy Land' with acting and production values at the very top. Exremely entertaining and enjoyable.
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"Devil" Anse Hatfield played by Kevin Costner [also joint producer] and Randall McCoy played by Bill Paxton return by different routes and for different reasons from the bloody Civil War where they had been comrades in battle; looking out for each other. They desire peaceful lives to develop and expand their family businesses, but this is not to be. Like many monumental fall outs their feud starts with a misunderstanding and then an attempted crooked business deal prompted by McCoy's self seeking and loathsome lawyer ads fuel to the flames. Matters escalate with killings and retribution beatings on both sides until the war between the families is out of control. There is, as with any good story, a love interest: can a young Hatfield marry a McCoy? Apparently not.
This true life feud goes on for 30 plus years and has become part of American history. "Going at it like the Hatfields and McCoys" after over 100 years is still part of their lexicon to describe any bitter disagreement.
The acting of all concerned is beyond reproach and a special mention for Mr. Costner's best performance for many years. It is gritty, cruel and violent and to tell this tale it could be no other way. The effects are clever and the scenery stunning even although it was shot in Romania to give the appearance of wild, open space, authentic 19th.century eastern USA.
At just over four and a half hours it splits nicely into 3 parts or if you are as engrossed as I was, will be watched in one sitting. It is a quality realistic production of a standard way beyond the usual mini series genre.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 October 2012
I am lucky enough to have seen the complete 'Hatfields & McCoys' miniseries in advance of its transmission on Channel 5 in the United Kingdom, and I must say it is a superb series.

The story is based on fact and concerns the infamous feud between the families of Hatfield and McCoy in the West Virginia-Kentucky area (for those interested it is specifically along the Tug Fork, just off of the Big Sandy River) and it takes place between 1863 to 1891.

The Hatfields of West Virginia were led by William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield (portrayed here by the magnificent Kevin Costner), whilst the McCoys of Kentucky were under the leadership of Randolph "Ole Ran'l" McCoy (the always reliable Bill Paxton, who in my opinion delivers a career best performance).

Blood Feud: The Hatfields and the McCoys: The Epic Story of Murder and Vengeance

I must admit that I had not heard of the feud prior to watching the series, but having done a little research since I was surprised to discover just how well known it is in America, so much so that it still taught in schools and it has actually entered the American folklore lexicon as a metaphor for any bitterly feuding rival parties!

A quote I found states that "more than a century later, the story of the feud has become a modern symbol of the perils of family honour, justice, and vengeance".

The series consists of three episodes, each between 95 and 105 minutes approximately.

The cast is simply superb, many familiar faces from British screens are in quite prominent roles, and the seething anger and resentment between the two leads is so well played that it is quite believable that the situation would have escalated in the fashion that it did.

Of particular note for me on the American side are Tom Berenger (where has he been?!) portraying an incredibly ruthless and vengeful Jim Vance and Powers Booth as the local Justice of the Peace Judge Valentine "Wall" Hatfield (yes that's right, he is related to Costner's character!); from the United Kingdom we have the excellent and at times almost unrecognisable Sarah Parish ('Mistresses') as Levicy Hatfield, the wife of Kevin Costner's character, and Joe Absolom (Matthew Rose from 'Eastenders'!) as Selkirk McCoy, one of the sons of Randolph "Randall" McCoy (Bill Paxton).

In my research I discovered a couple of interesting details about the actual production (well I think they are!), firstly although the story is set in the Appalachians in West Virginia and Kentucky, it was actually shot in Transylvania, Romania, just outside of Brașov (with the Carpathians standing in for the Appalachians)!

Secondly, although the main score is composed by John Debney and Tony Morales some of the additional music is by Kevin Costner and his band 'Modern West'.

The soundtrack is available here:

Famous Killing Each Other: Hatfields & Mccoys -Ost

If anyone is interested Kevin Costner has produced a few albums with the aforementioned 'Modern West' now, they are pretty good actually and I have to say that he can actually sing! I am listening to their 'Best of...' via 'Spotify' as I write this review by the way!

Best Of

The story moves quite slowly initially but this is important to illustrate just how the hatred and anger built, and to me the way in which this is done is the brilliance of the series, you can genuinely understand just how things got so out of control.

The series is quite violent and brutal, although not to the extent of say 'Deadwood', and neither does it contain the expletive filled language!

On another side note I just have to recommend the aforementioned 'Deadwood', it is simply amazing and if anyone has an appreciation of all things 'wild west' they should check it out:

Deadwood Ultimate Collection Seasons 1-3 [DVD]

One of my favourite aspects of this series, and something that sets it apart from most others I have seen, is the aforementioned use of language; it contains a great deal of, what I imagine to be, words and phrases from the era and this adds so much authenticity. Adding to this authenticity is the 'look' of the characters, they are generally unkempt and dirty (not much make-up or many stylised haircuts here!) and they really look like they 'live' in the world they inhabit.

The thing that resonates most about the series for me is just how much damage and destruction a 'disagreement' between two men can cause; so much hurt, so much pain and so many lives ruined over supposed 'honour'.

The series rightly received a great many nominations and subsequent awards in America (including Emmy's) and sets the benchmark for the modern western mini-series as far as I am concerned, much like the brilliant 'Hell on Wheels' has done for the longer series.

Hell On Wheels - Season 1 [DVD]

I understand that the series was not only a critical success but it was also a commercial one, breaking some viewing figures in America; this is wonderful news for me because it almost certainly means more productions of its type are to follow.

If you like westerns, if you like Kevin Costner (or Bill Paxton!), or if you simply like a really good story with high production values and a message then this is the series for you.

As far as I am concerned it sits quite comfortably alongside the brilliant 'Open Range' Open Range [DVD] [2004] and even the legendary 'Dances with Wolves' Dances with Wolves (Three Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1991].

I would thoroughly recommend purchasing the DVD because I feel that the manner in which Channel 5 will broadcast it (lots of long commercial breaks and spread out over nearly a month) will definitely have a considerable impact on the viewing experience, and I honestly feel that this series deserves more.
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I love watching Kevin Costner westerns and, although I never saw this on series on TV, I was determined to get it immediately it came onto DVD. I was not disappointed.
The Hatfields and McCoys feud story is well documents and, although I know it in general terms, I do not know the detail so cannot comment on the accuracy of 'facts'.
To be honest, who cares. This is not advertised as the 'true story' nor is it an historical documentary (albeit that it was made for the History Channel). It's a terrific story, well produced, well acted and well directed. What more could the purchaser want.
100% recommended and a well deserved 5 stars all round
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on 6 September 2013
Saw this on TV recently - great series but very violent!! True story of family friends who feud and due to their pride and testosterone spills over into generations. It is taught at school in the US as part of their history - where the saying ' The real McCoy 'comes from.
Every single actor/actress is amazing - people you may have heard or not are all extraordinary !
If you liked Lonesome Dove you will like this.
Very sad and moving and shocking in many parts but fascinating all the same! ! Harrowing - so be warned!
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on 18 October 2013
Bought this on the strength of the other epic westerns that i have of Kevin Costner. I was not disappointed . In fact i was glued to the screen and ended up watching it in one sitting. Fantastic. Bill Paxton was excellent as so were all the supporting cast. And it stayed as true as it could to the true facts. Buy it. You wont be disappointed.
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on 15 August 2014
thoroughly enjoyed this series. watched them all in one day as I was so engrossed. so nice to see so many English actors/actresses in this series. as usual kevin Costner produces a great character, in both acting and presence.
all the characters stood out in their own right. making you hate some of them and loving others.
me and my husband both chose different sides we liked hatfiald for him and McCoy for me.
so it is hard to choose which side you agreed with the most.
all I can say is, if you like dramas that are based on true stories then this is the one to watch.
enjoyful the whole way through. with some great shooting scenes and some sad ones that would bring a tear to your eyes.
fabulous programme/acting/scenes/costumes the whole lot. just great
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Recently watched Open Range [DVD] [2004]and Broken Trail [DVD]again and wanted more of the same.
Selected this acclaimed tv series.It"s gritty,dirty and has realism but lacks that feelgood touch of the aforementioned films.
It"s entertaining and tells the interesting story of the feud between 2 warring families but it is dour and uncompromising which may not suit everyone.
I felt it lacked the humour and pathos of Open Range,and certainly didn"t generate the same response to identify with the main charactors of both O.R. and B.T.
Worth watching once, not twice.
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This is a wonderful series and on par with some of the best of the current crop of American Series of the last decade.
Although its subject matter is different is, in its own field, akin to the wonder Mad Men, The Wire and Carnivale. (Sic)Carnivale: Complete HBO Season 1 [2003] [DVD]Carnivale: Complete HBO Season 2 [DVD]

Whilst the former may be familiar I compare it with Carnivale simply because it takes it time in telling a wonderful tale of American Folklore.

Based on a true story The McCoys and the Hatfields were two families in America's South.
Kentucky way. A simple act of desertion of the Confederate Army by one and the subsequent imprisonment and ruin of the other by the Union forces sets in motion a distrust and hatred of the two families.

Simple acts and distrust are magnified and you can really appreciate the slow burn of hatred and distrust the families have for each other.
The feud lasted over 30 years and is a byword for a long feud that serves no purpose and blights and destroys all those who come into contact or are members of the family.

In the United Kingdom we have the series on Channel five along with the advert breaks so I really recommend you buy this on DVD and your enjoyment of this cinematic series will be increased tenfold.
Better maybe to divide it up in to the 3 original segments to give your self time to digest this wonderful story telling.

Now why is a miniseries that takes it time better than a short film?
Well to illustrate.
A Hatfield boy sees a handsome blonde McCoy girl.
We see them glance and the attraction is mutual.
He takes her to seehis illicit still for 'hooch' whisky (sic) he has made and tells her of his plans to marry and have children in a house he has built. We see the act of courtship of young love. The plays and feints, the shy glances and counters he has a reputation of saying the same lines to lots of girls.

The girl misses he ride home by seconds- she spends the night at her boyfriend's shack. Reluctantly, for Costner knows this will pruduce nothing but badwill and trouble, she is given a roof and a bed for the night among the Hatfield girls for decency, but the boy sneaks in during the night and the inevitable happens.
She is disowned by her family travels to her lovers home but but the Patriarch, Costner, refuses permission for her to be married and thus legitamise her role in society. She will be regarded as a whore thus further insulting the McCoys. She gets pregnant is told to 'go back to her own kind by Costner's wife and does.

The lover is lost, seeks slace in a whorehouse- gets drunk and is abducted in his drunken state by his lovers jealous cousin. She sleeps with him and lets slip her cousin s pregnant with is child.
The boy runs to meet her.
The boy is captured when he finds she is with his child- now this action takes over 30 minutes of well performed and well told acting- had it been a movie it would have taken 4 minutes tops.
BUT the point is we really enjoy the journey getting there this is simply television at its finest.

We as the viewer can see the twists and turns of fate, the good and the bad in each character and how agonizingly the sense of right is surrendered for something called family and honour.

We view the action from the fence and can see both sides.
It's like watching a train crash in slow motion we are powerless to interfere but absolutely mesmerized at watching the action slowly but so satisfyingly unfold.

Kevin Coster and Bill Paxton as the clan leaders are simply magnificent and the supporting cast are truly excellent.

The characters look like they come from that part of the world and that time. Beards deformities and faults aboud. (the only thing American's cannot fake is bad teeth!)
If you read other reviews they will go into the fine detail of cast members, their previous achievements and shows and the fact there is a sprinkling of fine British actors to boot as well. (now I wonder, were the Brits included for their teeth!) I jest of course.

Read the other reviews and you too may be convinced to buy this fine excellent series.

If you do then I envy you the satisfaction of watching a mini-series, at the top of its game, with outstanding acting, is well told and unfolds with such a magnificent storyline.

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on 3 June 2015
This film was really well acted and amazing that 2 families could start and carry a feud such as this...stubbornness and different principals. Kevin Costner and bill Paxton acted so well. Really good Gritty film-Recommend
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