A new box set of 3 iconic Spaghetti Westerns from director Gianfranco Parolini, The Sabata Trilogy has recently been released by Eureka Video in the UK starring the late great Lee Van Cleef and Telly Savalas in the title role.
Sabata (1969) – Who he is and where he came from, no one knows. But the leading citizens of the Western town of Daugherty think he knows too much. And they want to silence him; forever.
The best of this trilogy, Sabata has all the trademarks of the genre with a little more fun thrown in and lots of energy with non-stop action. The cinematography by Sandro Mancori is wonderfully composed, and the music score adds another great dimension. Van Cleef is very charismatic in the role and is wonderful on-screen, This is definitely the best of the trilogy.
Adiós Sabata (1970) – Yul Brynner takes the reins as the title character in this action-packed sequel. Under the brutal rule of local garrison leader Colonel Skimmel, a group of Mexican revolutionaries hire gunslinger Sabata to rob a transport of Austrian gold in order to buy weapons. But Colonel Skimmel has other plans, taking the gold for himself and blaming the revolutionaries, but no scheming colonel is going to keep Sabata from earning his pay!
While Lee Van Cleef is sorely missed in this sequel, Yul Brynner takes the role much more seriously and does a mostly good job as the deadly gunslinger. There are a few nice twists in the plot and the action is more full-on and overall this is a worthy sequel once you get used to Brynner in the role he does a pretty good job. Another bonus is the brilliant soundtrack courtesy of Bruno Nicolai which adds immensely to the atmosphere.
Return of Sabata (1971) – The great Lee Van Cleef returns as the famous freewheeling gunslinger Sabata. This third and final go-round for the enigmatic sharpshooter who administers a unique brand of justice in the American West in the years following the Civil War finds Sabata in the role of victim. Sabata’s skills as a gambler and thief are unparalleled. However, when a shifty band of desperadoes bilks him out of $5,000, he wants revenge!
While it’s great to see Van Cleef back in the title role, this is the weakest of the trilogy, and the story seems to wander off in different directions. The opening gunfight is very well shot and Van Cleef seems to be enjoying his part and the great vistas and panoramas, shot in Croatia this time, are beautiful to look at.
The picture quality on these new releases is very good even though an older master is used. Close-ups look great, and the overall image is very watchable. Audio gives you LPCM 2.0 English on all 3 films and is clear and concise. The lip-synching can be a bit off at times due to the language that was spoken onset (these were shot silent and dubbed later) but it’s a good overall sound mix.
Extras are good and include –
- Reversible sleeve featuring original poster artwork for each film
- Sabata – Brand new feature length audio commentary by author / critic Kim Newman
- Adiós, Sabata – Brand new feature length audio commentary by filmmaker and historian Mike Siegel
- Return of Sabata – Brand new feature length audio commentary by authors C. Courtney Joyner & Henry Parke
- New video pieces on each film by Austin Fisher, author of Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema
- Stills Galleries
- A Limited Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Western expert Howard Hughes
An interesting collection for Spaghetti Western fans with good transfers and extras.
FILMS – Sabata – 7.5 / Adios Sabata – 7 / Return of Sabata – 6
PICTURE – 7.5 AUDIO – 7 EXTRAS – 8