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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Action > Drama > Revenge > Thriller > Professional > Mercenaries > Crime > British > Martial Arts > Bandolero! (1968*)/Crypto (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Dark Of The Sun (1968/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Stagecoach (1966 remake*)/Triple Threat (2018/Well Go Blu-ray)/Warlock (1959/*all Fox/Twilight Time

Bandolero! (1968*)/Crypto (2019/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Dark Of The Sun (1968/MGM/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Stagecoach (1966 remake*)/Triple Threat (2018/Well Go Blu-ray)/Warlock (1959/*all Fox/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-rays)

Picture: B/B-/B/B/A/B Sound: C+/B/B-/B/B/B- Extras: C+/C/C/C+/C/C+ Films: B-/C/C+/B/B+/C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Bandolero!, Stagecoach (1966) and Warlock Blu-rays are now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, are limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last, while Dark Of The Sun is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.

Here's a big group of action films, most of which upgrade earlier releases....

We start with a long overdue upgrade of Andrew V. McLaglen's western Bandolero! (1968) with James Stewart, Dean Martin and Rachel Welch. We originally reviewed the film on DVD many years ago at this link...


Watching it now, you realize that you are lucky you get one watchable western a year if that, the genre is so dead, usually made of package deals, remakes, belated prequels, belated sequels and most releases that are just a mess and look like people who cannot act going to a bad costume party. As a result of the backwards productions and sometimes pointless gluts, usually telefilms no one seems to care about, you cannot get a new western made with much new big name star power and the genre continues to be mostly dead.

This new edition plays better than the old DVD, especially image-wise and has more extras, all of which you can read about below.

John Stalberg Jr.'s Crypto (2019) reminded me of the 1990s film Hackers in trying to have a thriller in a world few people really know or understand, but like that overrated formula thriller, this is a formula thriller that wastes a decent cast (Beau Knapp trying for lead actor status, Kurt Russell not in the film enough, Alexis Bledel, Luke Hemsworth and Jill Hennessy) that is a bad heist picture that shows the money disappearing or going other places on a computer screen, but we've seen that with regular money ay least a few hundred times and this script is clueless with that to do and especially what to do new.

Also bad, we never get a description of 'crypto' and the makers expect the audience to know what it is or just fill in what it is and being worried that would be a dated segment is not an excuse not to have it in here in some way, somehow. See this one at your own peril, but with a 'Russian Mafia' involved plot, don't expect much.

Jack Cardiff's Dark Of The Sun (1968) reunites Time Machine (1960) co-stars Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux (though they don't get as much screen time together) in this British production about mercenaries (led by Taylor and Jim Brown) getting people and a big stash of diamonds out of the Congo by train. They bring other help, including a guy who hates Taylor's character, which leads to fights out of nowhere and as the film goes on, it is interrupted by events like that which break the flow of suspense or narrative build-up. The film looks good and has some good supporting actors like Kenneth More, but it misses the full impact it might have had if it were more well thought out or edited differently.

Cardiff is one of the greatest cinematographers of all time and like many such artists, tried out directing and did so a few times in his career, so the film looks good much of the time and the new Warner Archive restoration of the MGM release on Blu-ray here looks better than it plays. It definitely wants to be like a Professional Western (i.e., a group of dirty men in a mission for the money) and has some of that, but also is something different, but cannot make the move to exceed the genre by being a modern, British version thereof. Nice try at times, though.

Gordon Douglas' Stagecoach (1966) is a remake of the 1939 classic (which made the Western a full genre!) by the same name and has all of the elements of an essential western. In color, as opposed to the original obviously, the film takes place during 1880 and follows a group of travelers who are making their way from Wyoming Territory towards Cheyenne. These ten wildly different characters each end up painting the backdrop of the time with the classic rivalry between Americans and Native Americans as the backdrop.

Stagecoach stars Ann-Margret, Red Buttons, Michael Connors, Alex Cord, Bing Crosby, Bob Cummings, Van Heflin, Slim Pickens, Stefanie Powers, Keenan Wynn. As a fun bonus, the poster artwork featured on the cover was done by none other than Norman Rockwell.

While it will likely be remade again someday, Stagecoach looks very nice in this limited HD edition from Twilight Time that movie-goers will be able to experience in a whole new light thanks to its clarity and isolated score track.

For more on the music in the film, here's our coverage of the out of print, limited edition CD:


A group of assassins was hired to kill a wealthy heiress when she donates her fortune to help stop the crime syndicates in Thailand. However, what the assassins didn't count on was the mercenaries they hired from their last job, whom they had doubled crossed and left for dead. Now, they are back with a vengeance ...and payback is a bitch. It's a team of soldiers of fortune versus a team of assassins and it is an epic fight from start to finish in Jesse V. Johnson's Triple Threat (2018).

Payu and Long Fei were hired to be guides in what they thought was a rescue operation in a jungle village for hostages but turned out they helped a terrorist leader break free and they were almost killed for being witnesses. After the assassins killed everyone in the village and blew it up, Payu and Long Fei teamed up with the village's sole survivor Jaka who vowed revenge for the death of his wife. Payu, Long Fei and Jaka then learns of the assassin's plans to kill a wealthy heiress Xiao Xian. Jaka uses Payu and Long Fei as bait to tempt the assassins out of hiding and Xiao Xian ends up running with them, they run and fight causing much collateral damage across the city.

This was like an Asian version of The Expendables with an Asian martial arts superstars including Tony Jaa and Tiger Chen. The movie was like a never ending fight/chase scene, each scene was well choreography, but it seemed like one long fight scene, the plot was thin and characters aside from being double crossed in the beginning didn't have much else character backgrounds.

Finally we have Edward Dmytryk's Warlock (1959) with some overtones of the Hollywood Witch Hunts of the 1950s Dmytryk survived and was pushed to testify in a way to keep being able to work, for better and worse. A reckless gang is terrorizing a town, so a gunslinger (henry Fonda)( is hired to stop them, while a one-time bad guy (Richard Widmark) becomes sheriff of the town around the same time. A local businessman (Anthony Quinn) just wants to make money and have visitors have a good time, but conditions and the past of many around will not allow that to happen easily.

The title refers to the name of the town (a self-fulfilling prophecy?) and the townspeople are about as helpful as they were in High Noon (1950, reviewed elsewhere on this site) so it is not a happy film or one being upbeat about how great the West was. However, it does drag a bit for its two-hour length, so it is worth a look, but not one that ever impressed me much. DeForest Kelley (the original Star Trek cast member making this a curio) and Dorothy Malone also star.

Now for the playback quality. In this case, all six releases happen to be 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image presentations looking as good as they can in the Blu-ray format, but with limits here and here. Crypto (with motion blur) and Triple Threat (impressively stable) are HD shoots, Stagecoach and Warlock are in the older CinemaScope format, so you get distortions throughout and both Bandolero! and Sun are in Panavision, so they looking the most solid and modern throughout. Sun has the best color bring in MetroColor, while the westerns are in Color by DeLuxe, but Warlock looks particularly on the teal side and lacking some color range. Stagecoach and Bandolero! fare better in the color department.

Stagecoach has cinematography by the renowned William H. Clothier (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), this is a gorgeous looking film that has never quite looked this good on home video before. It also has a nice sounding English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless track as well.

Crypto, Threat and Warlock have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Ariadne is well mixed and presented, but Warlock shows its age and the limits of its soundfield, so Stagecoach manages to sound just a little more naturalistic somehow. Bandolero! has both DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 4.0 and 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes, but both show the limits of the original recording and are just a step above the old DVD audio despite having traveling dialogue and sound effects like Warlock. That leaves the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 lossless mix on Sun sounding good for its age.

Extras on the three Twilight Time westerns include more quality illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and thorough essays by the great film scholar Julie Kirgo, then the discs add Isolated Music Score tracks, all but Stagecoach add an Original Theatrical Trailer and both Stagecoach and Bandolero! (also with Tony Latino) have feature length audio commentary tracks by Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo. Crypto has Digital Copy a trailer, a Making Of featurette and its own audio commentary, while Sun has a trailer and mixed audio commentary by Larry Karazewski, Josh Olson, Brian Saur and Eiric D. Kane that was all over the place. That leaves Triple Threat extras including interviews with the actors and trailers.

To order the Bandolero!, Stagecoach (1966) and Warlock limited edition Blu-rays, buy them while supplies last at these links:




and to order either of the Dark Of The Sun Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Triple Threat) and James Lockhart (Stagecoach)



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