2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good purchase, excellent for the price,
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This review is from: Spaghetti Western 2: Last Gun & Four Dollars of [Blu-ray]  [US Import] (Blu-ray)
This Blu-ray is a worthwhile purchase for the Spaghetti Western enthusiast because it s reasonably priced (even more so in America) and contains two films. (Note that when I wrote this review, the disc was under £3).
"The Last Gun" is the definite lesser of the two, feeling much more akin to it's American counterparts than the Spaghetti Western style we know and love so well, but it's absolutely watchable. I don't know if I'd bother a second time, but it kept me entertained, made me laugh in a none-too-derisive manner and I didn't find myself yawning once. It's basically a riff on the "Lone Ranger", with a semi-mythical gun-slinger named Jim Hart instead of the Ranger. Predictably, there's bandits in town running things and beleaguered shopkeeper (B-movie mainstay Cameron Mitchell - "The Toolbox Murders", "Blood and Black Lace") has had enough. There's a lot of laughing in this movie, more so than in most b-movies, as villains, morally indifferent characters...pretty much everyone but the hero, finds humour in every small thing that occurs.
"Four Dollars of Revenge" is much better. You wouldn't call it an essential watch for the Spaghetti Western fan, but it's a solid example of the form and much more in line with what you'd want from this kind of thing. A sort of riff on the Count of Monte Cristo with a somewhat confusing time-span (seems fine until a late revelation involving "years of imprisonment"), it is a nice story of revenge, betrayal and (sort of) love. The title, while obviously evocative of "A Fistful of Dollars" and "For a Few Dollars More" (homophonously emulated here), actually does pertain to the plot, as distinctive Confederate dollars are both key items in the plot, and are used as signals to the public in the revenge shootings. The cinematography is excellent, and while the score is apparently limited to only one piece played repeatedly, it's a good piece and doesn't grate. Like all the best Spaghetti Westerns, it seems like it could take place in that same extended universe of Leone's films - not really reality or American history, but a broad mythic place where towns appear and disappear in sandstorms overnight. I imagine I shall see this one again sometime.
The picture. What to say? There has been NO restorative work on these films, whatsoever. I was a bit taken aback by this - we're used to "take it or leave it" propositions with DVDs, but Blu-ray it's an unwritten rule that the presentation should be the best possible (less so in Germany, where Standard Definition DVD video is commonly pressed in large compilation Blu-rays). However, these ARE in High-Definition - they're just High Definition transfers of what appear to be theatrical prints, complete with scratches and muddled colour. When you accept that, you can enjoy the added resolution and the thrill of a cheap drive-in experience on your TV. "Last Gun" is 1.78:1, whereas "Four Dollars of Revenge" is in cinemascope. I think "Last Gun" has the better/more consistant colour, but "Four Dollars..." is the better looking overall, for budgetary and photographic reasons as much as the transfer I suppose.
The sound has three options that all sound rather similar - PCM Lossless stereo, DTS-HD-MA stereo and Dolby Digital Stereo. I went with the PCM Lossless to see if I could run it through my 5.1's Pro Logic II, but apparently it's really a mono signal rather than stereo, so that didn't really go anywhere. All sounded fine.
The only extras are trailers - for both films, and for a disc that was never released. See, volume 1 was supposed to be Django and another film, but Blue Underground had rights to Django (just the Hi-Def ones? I don't know) so Mill Creek could not release their disc after all. Had that come out - a more established Spaghetti Western and partner - first, this Blu-ray would probably have sold more, which is a shame. There was a further volume that was released - that one has The Grand Duel and Keoma on it Spaghetti Western Double Feature: Grand Duel [Blu-ray]  [US Import] which is a better purchase overall - better films and transfers. I suggest buying both, of course!