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on 27 January 2004
One of the best films of the 1970s, ULZANA'S RAID works on many levels - western drama, character study, Vietnam allegory. Unfortunately, this UK DVD release has been heavily cut - and re-edited - to remove all shots of horses being trip-wired. According to the BBFC, this technique falls foul of the 1937 Cinematograph Act, which forbids the ill-treatment of animals during film-making. For the record, many stunt co-ordinators claim the technique can be used safely. Cuts aside, this is the American version of the film, supervised by director Robert Aldrich, rather than the overseas version prepared by Burt Lancaster.
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Well I promise not to mention the editing which seems to have been well covered. Instead I will tell you why I like this film. I like my films to have an air of authenticity and if you wish to know what it was like as a US Calvalry Officer to fight the Apache on their home ground in the American South West then this is the film to watch.

The film is based on a true event when the Apache leader Ulzana broke out of San Carlos Indian Reservation with a handful of warriors and caused widespread panic among the civilian population, to say nothing of leading the US calvalrys best a merry dance in the process. General Crook who spent years hunting down Geronimo described them as the best guerilla fighters to have lived. In that he was not far wrong. They could survive in the most inhospitable terrain and had been fighting the Mexicans their natural enemies for hundreds of years. They could ride a horse into the ground and then eat it and use the intestines for water carriers. No wonder they were such a will o the wisp enemy to fight against. History lesson over.

This film faithfully depicts that raid. Burt Lancaster plays the veteran scout ably assisted by his Apache tracker. This too was accurrate. The US troops found the best way to catch an Apache was to use an Apache. They were expert trackers. Trying to close in on this enemy was a tough task. They did not wait around to wage a battle. No, if the odds were against them they simply dissappeared like ghosts into their desert fastness. The psychological warfare carried out and the juxtaposition of the raw Officer and the seasoned scout all work well. The director Robert Aldrich had done his research and gave us the first really accurrate film about the war against the Apache.

The good points are many. Burt Lancaster is excellent as the scout and it is certainly one of his better if lesser known roles. Frank DeVols music is perfect for the film. Richard Jaekel that stalwart support actor gives a good performance. Be warned it can be a bit visceral but that I am afraid is how it was. This is not gratuitous violence but simply part of the story based on those true events in the late 1880s. I would highly recommend this film to you despite the cuts.
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on 4 March 2013
I first saw this film many years ago and thought it would be a good addition to my collection (something to watch when the TV programs are crap) But I was disappointed to find that some of the more violent scenes had been cut !. and in a couple of occasions quite clumsily done, so as to be obvious that something was missing. I think this has been done to gain the 15 rating (another instance of being too PC). However I did enjoy watching it again despite the annoying editing.
Next time I order a Western I'll try to find out if the copy is an uncut version. I think the British public are let down by this Big Brother approach by the film censors
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on 3 December 2005
I saw a rated 15 version of this film with appro. running time of 99 minutes. The Amazon version is 96 minutes and rated 18, and Halliwell's is 103 minutes. More about this shortly.The film concerns the escape from a reservation of an Apache leader (Ulzana) who gathers some men (Apaches) and some horses (captured) and raids the area with the objective of killing MEN in order to get their 'strength'. This is done by horrid torture designed to keep them alive and suffering as long as possible for the longer it takes the stronger were the men and thus greater strength was absorbed. The Fort Commander sends out a green lieutenant whose father was a priest and the white scout is Macintosh (Lancaster). It is a very neat study of guerrilla warfare based on horses. The objective is to catch up with the Apache band without losing the cavalry mounts through excessive chase, the objective of the cavalry is to catch the Apache by initially killing their horses. 'The first to make a mistake will be digging holes.' The killing of horses though not the essence of the film is an important aspect. And the filming of Lancaster chasing a group of horses led by only two Apaches... bringing down the riders' horses first and then killing the riders who charge at him on foot, his own horse having now been brought down, is in my view one of the seminal 'western' scenes of the genre. And they CUT every sequence which showed the horses actually being shot down in the chase. Unbelieveably stupid editing. A man is riding a horse, next shot he is rolling on the grouund. The film was 3 minutes shorter than the Halliwell version... so God knows what else was cut. I suspect it was cut for the British audience (who love animals more than people - the tortured settlers were shown) which indicates the innate stupidity of American (or English)(or DVD) editors. I hate editing and the assumption that someone knows better than I do what is right for me. I think it was Montgomery or it could have been Wellington who said something to the effect that a horse in its stables should be treated as worth a hundred guineas, a horse in the chase should be treated as if it is not worth twelve pennies. So much for our view of horses. The Amazon version is a further 3 minutes shorter, perhaps they cut the smoking scenes. I shall buy one and let you know.
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Screen Legend 'Burt Lancaster' leads the cast-list in this gritty and well made 1972 Western which based upon factual events.
Lead Cast -
McIntosh - Burt Lancaster
Lt Garnett Debuin - Bruce Davidson
Ulzana - Joaquin Martinez
Ke-Ni-Kay - Jorge Luke
Sergeant - Richard Jaeckel
When Ulzana' and a small band of Braves including his Son break out of 'San Carlos Indian Reservation' the Commander of Fort
Lowell 'Captain Gates' orders that a patrol hunts down the renegade Apache, he assigns the young and inexperienced Lieutenant
'Garnett Debuin' accompanied by around 20 troops, Army Scout 'McIntosh' and 'Indian Scout 'Ke-Ni-Kay' to give chase and bring
'Ulzana' and his Braves back to the Reservation.
However ahead of the pursuing troops 'Ulzana' is cutting a terrifying and brutal trail of killings in his wake targeting Homesteaders.
The Lieutenant struggles to understand the ways of the Apache after seeing the results of their deeds will do well to listen to the
advice and thoughts of his experienced scout 'McIntosh' who knows that 'Ulzana's' violence can only be defeated by violence.
At the end of the day it will come down to kill or be killed there will be no middle ground.
The tactics of 'Ulzana' make him a formidable opponent.
A well made and convincing Western that includes many familiar faces among the cast list frequently seen in films of the genre
throughout the 60's into the early 70's.
Well worth a viewing or indeed a revisit.
(A fellow reviewer reminded me of this Gem quite recently, glad he did, been a while since last viewing it)
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Ulzana's Raid follows a cavalry patrolled by Bruce Davison's idealistic but inexperienced West Pointer and guided by Lancaster's scout in their pursuit of a small band of Apaches who have left the reservation to rekindle their `power' by torturing and killing as many settlers as they can find. It's a stark, brilliant film that is a notable influence on Walter Hill's Geronimo (which even borrows from it directly on a couple of occasions), but has a level of cruelty that the later film lacks. Unlike its contemporaries which took up the Native American cause, this never idealises or demonises either side: even Lancaster's scout proves catastrophically less competent in matters of strategy than in tracking or attempting to explain the enemy's way of thinking. For the most part it's a conflict between two different cultures that can never understand or tolerate each other, carried out almost without malice despite its brutality. As Lancaster points out, "It's just the way they are. It's like hating the desert because there ain't any water in it."

With a superb screenplay by Alan Sharp, a fine Frank De Vol score and muscular, unsentimental direction by Aldrich that takes no prisoners, it's one of the key Westerns of the Seventies, even if parts of it proved too shocking for audiences for it to gain much of a reputation at the time. It's strong meat, but it's more than worth the price of admission.

Unlike the UK video, which offered Burt Lancaster's European cut, which has the same running time but some additional footage at the expense of some deleted scenes, this Region 2 PAL DVD is Robert Aldrich's US cut of the film. It would have been nice had the DVD offered both cuts, but since they haven't even included a trailer, let alone any deleted or alternate scenes, that's being wildly optimistic. It's worth noting that both the UK and Dutch DVDs are slightly cut, with a key horse fall taken out leaving part of the film's most shocking sequence (when a female settler and her cavalry escort are attacked) nigh-on incomprehensible to the uninitiated.
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on 3 July 2016
OK... This is one of 3 revisionist Westerns Burt Lancaster made
about the same time in the early 1970s. This movie, Lawman
and Valdez is Coming... And this film stands out among them
all, as it is an allegory for the Vietnam war, and US involvement
in other countries. That being said, it is a dark and pessimistic
vision of the old west, and somewhat uncomfortable at times to
watch. The Apache warriors are not noble savages, but just
savage. They rape and kill, for no other reason, that they can.

This is a film that turns the South West of America into a vision
of hell, and has a dark nihilistic ending. I'd say this is a good
western, as it goes against the grain of the Hollywood movies
at the time, although the early 1970s films were dark in tone
this movie seems to say "life is useless".

Burt Lancaster gives another great performance. He seemed to
get better with age, but this copy is let down by bad editing, or
should I say, bad chopping. A lot of scenes are cut due to cruelty
to animals, for their horse "trip-wiring" effects. This makes some
action scenes look bad, and slightly confusing. I don't know why
they cut these scenes out, as this technique isn't used any more,
but they have... Also... the Music score is HORRIBLE. It seems to
have come from another movie, and has no or little place in the film.

All said and done, this DVD is for the hardcore Westerns fans and
fans of 1970s movies, of which I am both.
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on 13 June 2005
This is likely to be Burt Lancasters greatest movie.
But it's all about people on horses having them shot from under.
The BBFC removes all horse falls from UK releases of Dvds, so the result makes no sense at all. Buy the uncut German version.
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Ulzana's Raid must be classed as Burt Lancaster's best film. I have seen at least three versions. In the UK DVD version all the horse falls have been edited out, this does not help the viewer understand the scences.

Great film, super story, buy it, but shame about the editing.
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on 20 December 2009
This is probably a great movie. I say probably because I seem to have seen about 4 different versions of it with various bits cut out or put in (sounds like the Apaches having a good night out...).

Robert Aldrich directs and is his usual blunt, in your face self. Burt Lancaster stars and, even taking into account the fact that he's probably my favourite actor of all time, is superb - cynical, world-weary and yet still touchingly human.

The story concerns a band of Apaches escaping from their reservation and, basically, killing everyone they come across. These are no early-hippy, nature-loving, only violent to protect themselves Indians - these are scary. A cavalryman shoots himself rather than fall into their hands and is complemented (posthumously) on his good sense. But their actions are understandable - they are what they are - the land they live in has made them that way.

Is it a Vietnam allegory? Probably - but these days who cares. It's a terrific tense film with no happy endings - just the survivors glad to be still alive.

Docked one star for the ridiculous cuts - you can torture and murder human beings just don't show a horse being hurt !
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