The Long Riders (Blu-ray)
Riled up by their stint in the war, the James and Younger brothers band together and become one of the most infamous groups of outlaws in history, the James-Younger gang, robbing banks, stagecoaches and anything else that gets in their way. But their thieving ways soon attract the attention of Pinkerton detectives who vow to take the gang down dead or alive.
When it comes to notorious outlaws, Jesse James is just as popular (if not a little more popular) than Billy the Kid. Now when it comes down to the two, I’ve always preferred Billy to Jesse. Of course I really loved the film AMERICAN OUTLAWS with Colin Ferrell as Jesse James. OUTLAWS is a clear remake of the film in question here, THE LONG RIDERS, and because of my love for this story I rather enjoyed this film despite its age. That said, clearly OUTLAWS took a different route than this film because the two couldn’t be more different.
On the one hand, both films center around Jesse’s gang of James and Younger siblings as they rob banks and piss off the Pinkerton railroad crew, but beyond that the similarities end. The boys are much more serious here and the tone is thick with so much raw tension that even Leatherface might have some trouble cutting into it. I dug that aspect of things but I must say I was hoping for a better outcome for Jesse and his crew. There were some unique visions here that were a first for me like the knife fight where both men bit down on a piece of shroud joining them together at about an arm’s reach from one another. Never heard of that technique but it sure doesn’t look like fun.
What is fun is the phenomenal cast ensemble. The three Carradine brothers as the Youngers was brilliant. This, and many other combinations of cast members come with their share of slick ironies. Keith Carradine would later go on to play Wild Bill in DEADWOOD, and then he and James Remar (who happened to be the other half of the knife fight I mentioned) would both appear in DEXTER. Stacy Keach is the youngest I’ve ever seen him here as Jesse’s brother. Keach is a great actor, I loved him in TITUS, AMERICAN HISTORY X and PRISON BREAK. This all star cast work flawlessly off one another and are a true pleasure to watch. As far as Jesse goes, I liked him here but I think he was a touch too cocky for his own good, leading him and boys down the same path YOUNG GUNS and YOUNG GUNS 2 take (clearly those two films were based upon this one in some capacity).
THE LONG RIDERS is dated to be sure, but surprisingly enough the action is decent as are the effects (man do these boys fly when shot with shotguns). Naturally I prefer the easy going and fun makeup of AMERICAN OUTLAWS to this film, but that’s not to say there’s no fun to be had here. For an old western this baby packs a mean punch. There are a few things I’d have done differently had I been Jesse and I’m sure robbing trains is nowhere near as easy as these fellas make it out to be, but at the end of the day I’m satisfied by this take on the story and recommend this (as well as AMERICAN OUTLAWS) if you haven’t seen it. There are no special features aside from a trailer though, so renting would no doubt be the way to go.
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen in 1080p HD with AVC codec. For an oldie it didn’t look half bad, with cool effects to boot.
Audio: Mono DTS-HD in English, French and Spanish with the same subtitle options. The score is about what I expected, nothing too great but not awful either.
Previews: There’s a theatrical trailer for the film. Yay.