Walter Hill has always been one of my favourite directors in the action genre and in this film he did his homage to the western and Sam Peckinpah with The Long Riders. One of the first things you notice with this film is the great casting, having real actor brothers playing outlaws who were brothers is a stroke of genius and its works superbly.
This is the retelling of the famous Jessie James story with James Keach and Stacy Keach, who helped co-write the script, playing Jesse and Frank James, while three of the Carradine family— David, Keith, and Robert—stand in for Cole, Jim, and Bob Younger. Finally, we have Dennis Quaid and his brother Randy taking on the roles of Ed and Clell Miller.
As the gangs rob more and more banks they become wanted targets for the Pinkerton detectives who put up a huge reward for there capture. After some of the Pinkerton posse kill a cousin of Jesse James he goes out and gets bloody revenge. This sets out a series of events which after a bank robbery goes wrong puts the gang in mortal danger.
The great thing about the film is that it takes time with the background of the men involved, the up and down relationships with women and the loyalty to the family. Having real brothers in the roles really helps and the acting from all involved is uniformly excellent. Stacey Keach as Jessie is a little bland in this role, so sympathy towards his fate is less than it should be, but overall this is a very enjoyable western. There is plenty of violent action on show, with bloody gun shots and lots of slow motion you can see why this has been compared to Sam Pekinpah’s work, especially The Wild Bunch and thats no bad thing.
The Blu ray from Second Sight is another great transfer, it was delayed for a while so they could do additional restoration work but overall it is very solid if a little soft in places. Facial close-ups and panoramic scenic shots often look very good. DNR does not seem to be prevalent so the little bit of grain gives it a very filmic look. the LPCM 2.0 Stereo soundtrack is clear and concise nothing spectacular but it serves the film perfectly ok.
Where the MGM USA release only had a trailer as an extra, this release has some great special features. The first and best is the documentary “Outlaw Brothers: The Making of The Long Riders” (61 minutes, HD). The people interviewed are director Walter Hill and cast members James Keach and Robert Carradine. They go into great detail about the making of the film and individual scenes.
The director also praises the stunt guys and is quick to mention that no horses were harmed during the making of the film as extra care was taken. Ironic then that the BBFC in all there wisdom have cut 4 seconds out and state “Cuts required to remove the cruel tripping of horses, in line with BBFC policy on animal cruelty”. To be honest the 4 seconds of cuts do not spoil the film in any way and i did not notice it when viewing the disc.
Other extras are “The Northfield Minnesota Raid: Anatomy of a Scene” featurette (15 minutes, HD) in which the same actors and director analyses the Northfield Minnesota Raid scene, how it was shot, special effects etc.
Finally we have “Slow Motion: Walter Hill on Sam Peckinpah” interview (6 minutes, HD) a short but very interesting and amusing interview in which the director talks about meeting the great Peckinpah and discussing this film with him.
Another great package from Second Sight and for fans of the film or westerns in general its a must buy. REGION B LOCKED.
FILM: 7.5 OUT OF 10
PICTURE: 7.5 OUT OF 10
SOUND: 7 OUT OF 10
EXTRAS: 9 OUT OF 10