It’s time for another historical film based on true events. This one deals with the good ole Wild West and has some famous shoot outs like the one at O.K. Corral. There’s quite a bit of action in this film since it’s fairly long with a large cast to boot. I’ll be covering another Wild West film that’s even longer with a bigger cast, but this one is a solid step ahead. It definitely has more hype for each of the battles since they’re set up well.
The main part of the plot takes place in Tombstone. A group of outlaws known as Cowboys have been terrorizing the place. They murder and steal all the time without fear of retribution because they outnumber the cops and are pretty quick on the trigger. The situation changes when a retired cop named Wyatt enters town along with his pal Doc Holliday. Now that the sides are more even, the new sheriff, Virgil decides that it’s time to take the Cowboys down once and for all. The two sides have a big fight with the cops emerging victorious. The criminals aren’t done yet though and decide to go for low blows by targeting their wives and innocent bystanders all around. Wyatt has had enough by this point and after sending the injured away, decides to destroy all of the Cowboys.
The climax has a lot of action as a result as there were many Cowboys. I didn’t realize quite how many until this sequence as the massacre took a while and the heroes had to go to many different areas. Wyatt is pretty skilled and good at dodging enemy fire, but he was still a little outmatched against the main bandit. Fortunately for him, Doc Holliday managed to get to the villain first and won in their big gunfight. Wyatt wouldn’t have lived through the experience without his friend and Doc Holliday did steal the show on quite a few occasions.
He was always eager for a fight and had the skills to back it up. He was the only figure that the villains were openly afraid of and they all ducked their fights with him throughout the movie. They never had a problem facing off with Wyatt and the others, but when Holliday would show up they’d make some excuses and get out of there. He felt like a good anime character in that respect as you rarely see characters so confident and battle hungry in films. It was a nice change of pace. The rest of the heroes were pretty good as well though. Wyatt stuck up for justice as well and could hold his own in a fight. Virgil helped spur the heroes on as well in the initial battles. While he may have lost by the end, he lasted a while.
The film was good at switching up the tempo as well. The rainstorm near the end where the characters were trapped in the tavern and being picked off one by one was pretty atmospheric. It was easy to forget that the characters were even in the desert at that point as it just felt like a completely different movie. One of the positives of being a long film is that you can dramatically change the tone and have enough content on both sides where the adventure feels even longer. The villains definitely had a powerful counter attack at this point.
While the film was pretty happy for most of it, it also got pretty dark during other moments. The scene where they have to operate on one of the characters was pretty violent as well. This definitely was the wild west as the heroes couldn’t rely on anyone else for help. They had to do everything by themselves and had no protection from the enemy as a result. It was pretty tense throughout with everyone being in trouble. The film has a happy ending, but it was difficult to get there.
The writing for this film is pretty solid as there are quite a lot of memorable lines. You’ll remember them well even after the film is over. Writing can certainly help to make a difference in a film like this. The villains are all rather unlikable, in particular the one who is always drunk. The writing does a good job of keeping him as a threat though without making him silly or incompetent. You want the villains to at least be a reasonable threat the whole time. It was also nice to see some of them defect and join the heroes as well so they weren’t all soulless yes men who eagerly went down the dark path.
On a side note, the bar tenders must have had nerves of steel back in these days. It seems like fights always break out over there and everyone had guns back in those days. I really would not have wanted that job since it seems so dangerous. I’m sure a lot of bandits and outlaws would not pay their tab and it was probably hard to enforce that. I imagine the average lifespan of a bartender was quite short, but then again, it probably was for any occupation. I can’t think of a single safe one in this environment. They were all rather lethal.
Overall, I’m still not really a fan of westerns in general. It’s not my favorite locale and I just prefer the cleaner city kind of atmosphere where the characters are constantly in air conditioned environments and you can forget that the great outdoors even exists. That being said, Tombstone is probably the best one that you can expect to find. It’ll be hard for a Western to topple it and this one is also educational at the same time as you’ll learn a bit about history in the process. Doc Holliday would certainly be proud of his portrayal in this film if he was still alive since he was given a lot of props and respect throughout. It’s an intense film and a lot certainly happens. Especially if you do like westerns, you should check this film out ASAP.