The Stranger And The Gunfighter
"....the film comes off like a Hong Kong movie except shot in English (though dubbed in English as well) and shot in the West."
- Joseph Kuby
Stranger And The Gunfighter, The (1975)
AKA: Bloody Money, Blood Money, Là Dove Non Batte Il Sole
Director: Antonio Margheriti (Anthony M. Dawson)
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Lo Lieh, Wong Hap, Chan Shen, Cheng Miu
Running Time: 96 min.
Plot: A martial artist joins a hard-hitting gunfighter in the search for treasure while bandits step into their way.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
JOSEPH KUBY'S REVIEW: One of the original Eastern Westerns!
Going by the trailer I saw somewhere, I was expecting an American quality film if not exactly a combo mix of Chang Cheh & Sergio Leone or Chor Yuen & Sergio Corbucci (or even Lo Wei & Enzo Girolami). Alas, the film comes off like a Hong Kong movie except shot in English (though dubbed in English as well) and shot in the West.
Some of the acting is terrible. The main villain, as played by Julian Ugarte, verily hams it up as a pantomine Warner Bros. cartoon style villain. Responsively, though Lee's class and Lo's style give this film much needed admiration.
The martial arts action is incredibly average (though I suppose watching this as a martial arts movie is like watching The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe as a Western) and the sound effects used for when Lo jumps in the air are cartoony to say the least (they make the ones back home seem realistic in comparison) and it makes it come off like a Kung Fu western equivalent to The Six Million Dollar Man.
Respectively, this should be watched as a Western than a Kung Fu film as the fight scenes are okay and (at the very best) good (like the final one between Lo Lieh and this Native American prize fighter) but the real highlight comes when Lee uses a Gatling gun to take on the hoodlums at the end (which Sammo payed homage to in his Eastern Western Millionaire's Express).
I saw the UK DVD entitled Blood Money. The visual quality was atrocious and the film print faded to green sometimes, falling way below the same quality as the one depicted in the trailer with vibrant colors and widescreen image. This version is hideously cropped and it miserably spoils the action. What's worse was that the print featured in the UK disc came from a VHS source. It indubitably doesn't do the production values any favors.
I read somewhere the distillery fight sequence is missing, which is a pity. However, the film is still enjoyable. Lee and Lo make a great team, it's regrettable that there was no sequel (I think it's quite obvious it would have been more like Rush Hour 2 with Lee being the fish-out-of-water). It's a pudency that no-one interviewed either Lo or Lee about their involvement in this film; it would have been nice to know how well they got along with each other as well as what the atmosphere was like on set and various other anecdotes.
When these two are on screen together, you realize Eastwood and Wang Yu could have been a wonderful duo. Joe Monco from the Dollars trilogy teaming up with the One Armed Swordsman (or Boxer). Looking back at the '70s, there were a lot of missed opportunities for crossover success. Ti Lung and David Chiang starring opposite Terence Hill and Bud Spencer would have been spectacular. Yul Brynner and Gordon Liu would have been delightfully canny in the possibilities stemming from such a union. Angela Mao and Carter Wong alongside John Wayne and Burt Lancaster would have been splendid.
Heck if you can have Mifune paired with Bronson, a Zatoichi Vs. One Armed Swordsman movie, a Zatoichi Vs. Yojimbo movie and even a movie featuring the two one-armed swordsmen then by all means the above were tangible ideas.
Strangely enough, despite the low budget exploitation feel (complete with the 70s music) there's a substantial emphasis on character interaction and plotting than action (at least martial arts action) which isn't too bad as the story is original, immersing and very funny (intentionally).
The film has some odd alternate titles. During pre-production, the film was announced to the Spanish press as Blood Currency before being known as Karate, The Colt and The Imposter. The Italian title was Here, Where it Does Not Strike the Sun. It was announced to the German press as Kung Fu in Wild West before being released as In My Rage, I Weigh 400 Weights. The French title is The Rough One, The Colt and Karate.
On a historical note, I don't know much about what the impact of this film was at the American and Hong Kong box office. As far as I know it's a pretty obscure movie but maybe it's one of those films that was famous then but not now.
This film is one of many Eastern Westerns, the others are Dragon Blood, Red Sun, The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe, Sun Dragon (a.k.a. A Hard Way to Die), Once Upon a Time in China & America and Shanghai Noon.
Kung Fu fanatics would be well advised to check out Dragon Blood as it pits John Liu against Philip Ko.
Then in Hong Kong, there's films set in turn-of-the-20th-century China where they absorb the atmosphere of westerns such as Peace Hotel (starring Chow Yun Fat).
Shanghai Noon remains, by far, the most well-rounded but this one isn't too far behind.
Here is a respectable web page I found concerning the film.
JOSEPH KUBY'S RATING: 6.5/10