Broken Trail [DVD]
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Two-part television drama starring Robert Duval and Thomas Hayden Church. The year is 1897. As Print Ritter (Duvall) and his estranged nephew Tom Harte (Church) travel the slow road to reconciliation, they reluctantly find themselves forced to care for five abused and abandoned Chinese immigrants while simultaneously attempting to deliver a herd of horses across the plains. Soon confronted by a gang of malevolent kidnappers who intend to abduct the girls and use them for the own nefarious purposes, Print and Tom determine to keep their young charges out of harms way while ensuring that their valuable delivery reaches its intended destination.
The lives of two stoic cowboys and five abused Chinese women become intertwined in Walter Hill's sprawling mini-series Broken Trail. Print Ritter (Academy Award winner Robert Duvall) and his nephew Tom Harte (Thomas Haden Church, Sideways) agree to deliver a herd of 500 horses from Oregon to Wyoming. Along the way, they rescue the young women--most of them still just girls--who're being transported to a brothel to have their virginity auctioned off. When the madam sees she is about to lose the girls, she screams at Tom, "What about my property?" He shouts back, "That's the price of being a capitalist, lady." Unable to overcome the language barrier, Print assigns numbers to the girls. Number Three, Sun Foy (Gwendoline Yeo, Desperate Housewives) is the most fearless and perceptive of them. Though the others don't want to be called Number Four--an unlucky numeral in their homeland--Ye Fung (Olivia Cheng), the most tragic of the group, doesn't care. Targeted for her beauty, she finds herself unable to overcome the trauma. The number suits her, in her mind. Along the way, Print and Tom rescue Nola Johns (Greta Scacchi), the proverbial hooker with the heart of gold, who was forced into prostitution after her husband died.
The cinematography is gorgeous as the camera sweeps over the lush landscape (the Canadian Rockies subbing in for Wild West of the late 1800s) and Hill does a formidable job of pacing this three-hour drama with just the right balance of dialogue and action. For Duvall, Broken Trail is the last piece to his Western trilogy, which started with the mini-series Lonesome Dove followed by the feature film Open Range. He is instantly likeable as a father figure and the viewer never doubts that his intention for the girls is honourable. As for Haden Church, he has never been as appealing as he is in this role. Gruff and flawed, he softens when he exchanges shy glances with Sun Foy. The trek is long and hard and the unlikely band of travellers will face much hardship. If not as satisfying as the rich, detailed Lonesome Dove, Broken Trail makes up for it with a wonderful storyline and some fine acting by all involved. As for the conclusion, it may surprise some viewers who are expecting a more traditional version of the happy ending.--Jae-Ha Kim, Amazon.com--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Robert Duvall plays Print Ritter who together with his estranged nephew Tom Harte(Thomas Haden Church)set out to transport 500 mustang to Wyoming.
However on the way they pick up a group of chinese women bound for a life of prostitution in a mining town,a down on her luck whore(Greta Scacchi) and the attentions of a recently released killer who has a score to settle with the whore.
Stunningly shot on incredibly beautiful locations,this is a wonderful piece of work.Duvall and Church are exceptional,Scacchi does well in a slightly underwritten role and Hill's direction is both fluid and delicate with the characters being well served by Alan Geoffrion's subtle and observant screenplay.Naturally the action is handled superbly,terse and violent as befits its landscape, by a master and sequences of the horses are amazing especially when one falls over in shot.
This movie takes place during the late 1800s. It starts with two horse wranglers played by Duvall and Church. Duvall's character, Print Ritter, is Church's uncle. They decide too wrangle horses and sell them to the British Empire who needed them for the Boer War. In the movie we follow this magnificent heard of horses as they are driven east across beautiful country. During the drive they run into five Chinese women who were being kidnapped from the West Coast and brought to the interior west to serve as prostitutes. The story of our horse drive and the story of five Chinese women become intertwined.
What makes this western special is we see the personal growth of Print Ritter from lonesome cowboy to father figure. And what makes this western unique is we see the story from the view of the female characters. Though the movie did not end exactly as I expected, it was close, yet seemed more real.
This is a must see movie. The story line, acting, scenery, background are all top notch. It was hard for me to believe that this was not very large big screen production.
The story of Uncle and Nephew travelling across the old west while taking care of five Chinese girls who would be sold into prostitution is exceptionally well told. Other characters that they interact with along the way such as a caring prostitute and a vicious ex-convict out for revenge enrich the story. The two main characters in particular though are tremendous. Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church both give great career performances, one as the wise and caring old man and the other as the flawed but ultimately well-meaning individual who will come good in the end.
Other reviewers have commented on the cinematography, and i would have to agree that it looks goregeous. The landsacpes add so much to the mood of film and show what can be achieved when you use a setting like that right.
If like me you had never heard of Broken Trail before, i would stongly reccomend that you give it a try, especially if you can get it at a low price.
Robert Duvall places it amongst his best performances despite it being little known and I would fully agree.I regard Mr Duvall as very accomplished actor who has never quite been given the true praise he deserves, he immerses himself in every role, makes you believe his character asks the question do you understand what and who I am.
In "Broken Trail" a TV mini series in two parts, he this time plays Print Ritter a cowboy who teams up with his nephew Tom Harte, played surprisingly well by Thomas Haden Church, to drive 500 mustangs from Oregon to Wyoming for sale to the British army in the Boer war. The trail as suggested in the title is not without its problems. The cowboys rescue a wagon load of Chinese girls being sold into prostitution. Something that did happen in the old west, when impoverished Chinese families were willing to sell their children for a pittance to be transported to America. The group are then pursued by a particularly brutal gang, who will stop at nothing to get their quarry.
The series is beautifully shot in Canada, which substitutes seamlessly for Oregon and Wyoming.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A real story unfolds with believable characters, how you would imagine the west would have been.
Robert Duvall is first class in this movie.
Broken Trail is another one of those Western equivalents of the road movie in that the narrative develops out of a trail-drive. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Richard
THIS FILM IS ONE THE BEST WITH DUVALL. FANTASTIC STORY. ITS IN TWO PARTS.NOT AS GOOD AS OPEN RANGE BUT PRETTY CLOSE.Published 11 months ago by lynn
A well crafted Western movie about two men who drove a large herd of horses across the USA. They encounter personal tests of will and morality as they meet and deal with different... Read morePublished 13 months ago by St. Stephen of Southview.