- Written and Directed by Rene Perez
- October 1, 2019 (US)
A mysterious gunslinger is hired by a young woman to save her sister.
Bronsploitation. That’s what this movie is. It’s a genre and one actor is in all of them. And that man is Robert Bronzi (real name Robert Kovacs) who has a disturbingly close appearance to legendary screen tough guy Charles Bronson. In my humble opinion he gets many of the mannerisms that Charles Bronson had correct. You can almost pretend you’re watching Bronson still alive doing new movies.
Bronzi plays a mysterious (and apparently famous) gunslinger referred to only as The Colonel. You would think it might pop up in one of the articles they say is written about him. No name beyond that which only aids in the character as your mind can project anything onto the character and here you project Charles Bronson.
What kills the illusion is when he goes on speaking for a little bit too long and you can hear his accent start to come through. He can hide for brief moments but not very long. Still though I am happy that someone’s willing to be an old-school film tough guy that shoots first and ask questions almost never. Not that such characters should be everywhere, but some action stories can benefit from such mindlessness. Like this one.
The film with its violence level falls somewhere between Once Upon a Time in The West and your general exceedingly violent Charles Bronson film from the 80s. One is a classic and the other is a guilty pleasure. And that’s what helps make this a worthwhile film to watch. Not great but worthwhile nonetheless.
I really liked The Colonel. He is that more capable than capable character. He is in charge of the situation and is skilled enough to know just what to do. He is one step ahead of the bad guys even if those around him don’t know it. You don’t get that too much anymore. What is so frightening about being capable and certain?
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood is a low budget film and they hire low budget actors for it. Bronzi isn’t bad as a mysterious Colonel. He gets the tough and silent bit right and manages a good screen presence which makes him engaging enough to watch. You don’t get too much about his character’s past, but you do get enough about him in the present to understand his motivations and make him an actual character.
The issues come with the actresses they hire to play the sisters. Karin Brauns who plays Ursula really struggles with an American accent and being the one that hires The Colonel is in a good chunk of the movie. There is no getting away from it. Lauren Compton who plays Ursula’s sister Abigale is about as Texas as you get and sounds like she is fighting to mute a twang. And the two never meet at a point where they sound similar.
Michael Paré is the film’s baddie Swearengen. He’s your Western generic villain who’s managed to take over the town and runs it with an iron fist His moneymaking model apparently centers around prostitution. That’s why he kidnapped the one sister and their maid’s child. And if you can’t see the twist coming with that kid I don’t know what to tell you. That begs the question: did he know?
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood begins at the end of the story. It is a rather brutal shootout with the bad guys getting perforated like so much Swiss cheese. I thought it was a set up for the character, but it turned out to be the end of the film put in the beginning. And we got a recap of all those events at the end as well. Once you get that, it kind of ruins an otherwise interesting story.
Ursula uses a trick to get The Colonel’s cooperation. Great idea but it should’ve played out longer. This movie is roughly 90 minutes so there is little time for much of anything but the gap between the trick and the revelation of the truth was brief. It came off as a wasted opportunity and given runtime limitations would have been better to skip.
While there was nothing new or groundbreaking about the plot and the acting was mostly mediocre, there is enough here to make it interesting. Michael Paré wasn’t that bad in his part. Charles Bronzi did a good job with what he was given. Unfortunately because of the acting of the two central female characters and the low budget nature of the film it suffered. I’m not thinking it could’ve been legendary, but what is here with a slightly better budget and/or two better actresses could have had broader appeal.
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood is something that will appeal to Bronson fans even though Bronson is not actually in it. But the general moviegoer may not find too much here to love as it is a bit of a throwback in certain aspects.