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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 10/21/98

The Quick and the Dead
1997 (1998) - Columbia/TriStar

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Film Rating: B+
Sam Raimi making a salute to the westerns of Sergio Leone. Okay, I'm there.

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B+/C
No extras. That sucks, but the movie being on DVD is good enough (I guess). The video is generally clean (outside of a few moments of artifacting during the opening sequence), and the audio is supercool.

Overall Rating: B
All in all, this is yet another top notch disc from Columbia/TriStar. I'm pretty much a happy little buckaroo.

Specs and Features

105 minutes, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 and 2.0) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and French, Close Captioned


Sam Raimi. For fanboys, hearing that name associated with a movie only means one thing: it's gonna kick some serious butt. With his dashing camera work, over the top characters, and great one-liners, no one in the world can top his energy. The Quick And The Dead is no exception. This is a pure-energy western as only Sam Raimi could give to us. It's a reinvented Western, dark and gritty, yet it manages to be lite and airy at the same time. He channels Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone so well, that I can only hope he plans to make another Western sometime in the near future.

The Quick And The Dead focuses on Ellen (played by producer Sharon Stone). Of course, more often than not, she is referenced as The Lady, because she is (in grand Spaghetti Western fashion) The Woman With No Name. Ellen sidewinds into an armpit of a town named Redemption. Which is ironic, considering there doesn't seem to be any redemption to be found there. Redemption is ruled by the meanest bastard to ever grace the silver screen -- meaner even than Henry Fonda's Frank character in Leone's Once Upon A Time In The West. That bastard is Herod, and he is played with severe gusto by Gene Hackman. Just imagine his character in Unforgiven with a black, black, black sense of humor. Herod, on top of being a mean bastard and mayor of Redemption, is also the organizer and world champion of a gunslinging tournament. Naturally, it's an elimination event, meaning "to the death".

Each of the colorful characters assembled in Redemption has a reason for being there. Sharon Stone is looking for revenge form something that happened to her, which is slowly revealed in flashback. Leonardo DiCaprio is there, because he wants his father to show him a little respect. Lance Henricksen is there with a stack of cards (and lies) six inches thick. There are also a bucket-load of other characters, including a priest played by Russell Crowe. This priest has a pitch-black past that he can't escape, even with the Lord's help. Redemption is like a circus where everyone is a clown -- yet they ain't here to make us laugh.

Raimi packs this flick with so many inspired camera angles, editing tricks and special effects shots, that it's really hard to count them all. He does all these little things that we've never before seen in a western, and he does them so well, they fit in perfectly. It just looks like he had a blast shooting this film -- so much fun in fact, that it's contagious.

The DVD from Columbia/Tristar does have a few moments of artifacts, especially during the opening credit sequence. The film itself doesn't exhibit as much because of all the day shots. The video problems disappear to the eye as you watch, so it's really no big deal. The sound is great. Remember to choose the 5.1 Dolby Digital track, unless of course you speak French -- then you'll have no choice but to listen to a stereo track. Colors are bright and well represented on DVD. Overall, it's a mighty fine disc. Besides the trailer, there aren't any supplements to report -- sad considering that one of the cut sequences featured Bruce Campbell, which alone would have been enough reason to buy the disc, in my opinion.

Bottom line

Sam Raimi made a damn fine western. He borrowed a whole helluva lot from masters like Peckinpah and Leone, but still managed to make it his own. Some of his shots will make you glad you're watching on DVD, so you can use that crystal-clear pause feature to get a better look. Darned good fun.

Todd Doogan
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