A Bullet for the General
Director - Damiano Damiani
Cast - Gian Maria Volonte, Klaus Kinski
Country of Origin - Italy
Discs - 2
MSRP - $29.98
Distributor - Blue Underground
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (4/5)
Damiano Damiani's Bullet for the General was originally conceived by the director as a satiric take on the spaghetti western genre. I would say in that regard the film is a failure. It is the only way I can view the film as a failure as Bullet for the General is actually one of the greatest of all spaghetti westerns. It never feels like a satire, but a uniquely plotted decent into the heart of the Mexican Revolution by a team of filmmakers set to make an excellent and unique action picture.
The film starts out with a truly mind-blowing set piece that involves a train being forced to a halt. In front of the train is a high-ranking Mexican military official, tied to a post. A handful of soldiers who are on the train emerge in an attempt to rescue him, each of them is picked off by an unseen assassin who bangs a drum inbetween each shot. With the soldiers laying dead, and the safety of the passengers to consider the conductor has to decide, the life of the military leader, or the safe arrival of the passengers. He, of course, saves the passengers.
El Nino, an American who got on the train at the last station takes the gun from a dead soldier and kills the conductor and brings the train to another complete halt. He emerges moments later in handcuffs that he put on himself, and allows the thieves who setup the assassination to raid the train. He quickly joins the gang, and befriends it's leader El Chucho, as they attempt to arm the rebels with the confiscated weapons and make some loot on the way.
That simplifies the story quite a bit, A Bullet for the General is a film that really shines in the story department, and is filled with interesting twist and turns. Of course it is written by Franco Solinas who scripted the classic Battle of Algiers, so this is definitely to be expected. The direction from Damiani is similarly excellent, like the best spaghetti westerns A Bullet for the General looks gorgeous, and makes the most of its location photography. On top of that he stages the films many action scenes very well, and keeps the films pacing at an excellent pace. If I wasn't thrilled by an action sequence, I was interested in a character moment, or wanted to see where the plot was going.
The performances were across the board fantastic, and any film featuring Klaus Kinski will always score points just as long as Klaus Kinski is on screen. Aside from that most of the primary cast are uniformly excellent from Gian Maria Volonte as El Chucho to Lou Castel as El Nino.
Overall, Bullet for the General is a great way to spend an afternoon. It is a violent, tightly plotted spaghetti western that has something for everyone that is a fan of a genre.
Blue Underground has presented A Bullet for the General in the films 2:35:1 original aspect ratio with a 1080p AVC Encode. The analog noise that has been present for a good few of BU's last few releases is again visible here. I have never had a huge issue with it. As far as the positives The colors are fantastic, flesh tones are largely accurate, black levels are solid, and colors reproduction is nice.
Blue Underground have presented 3 Audio Tracks on this release, a English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and Italian DTS-HD Master Audio these are present on the International Version. The third option is an English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 for the U.S. version of the film. The dialogue is audible throughout, and mixed well with the music and effects. I could not detect any audio defects on the track.
Blue Underground has really gone the extra mile with the re-release of A Bullet for the General. Alongside the extras being ported over from the prior release which include a 5 minute interview with Daminano Damiani, the U.S., and International trailer, and a poster and stills gallery. We get a documentary feature entitled Gian Maria Volonte: Un Attore Contro about the actor who portrayed El Chucho in the film.
What was conceived as a satiric take on the Spaghetti Western genre ends up being one of the best films the genre has to offer. Blue Underground offers a pretty fine looking disc in the A/V department with a great slate of extras that include an entire feature documentary. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.