The line between good and evil has always been a little blurred in Mexico. Whilst American cinema likes to have a clear delineation between its heroes and villains, the reality is often much more complicated. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. Some of the best westerns operate within these grey areas. Villa Rides enjoys operating outside its comfort zone.
Lee Arnold (Robert Mitchum) is a gunrunner for the Mexican army who begins to question his loyalties when he stays in a local village. After some of the inhabitants are murdered by the authorities, he finds himself on the side of Pancho Villa (Yul Brynner), a former bandit turned folk hero, and his dangerous right-hand man, Fierro (Charles Bronson).
Villa Rides is an intelligent and well-written western with a political twist. Buzz Kulik assembles and impressive cast and crafts a film which is far more complex than most in the genre. This works both for and against it. It can get a little convoluted at times, but Villa Rides has all the elements needed for a rollicking ride. One which goes to unexpected places.
Villa Rides is released on Blu-ray by Signal One on 16 January.