Think fast! What’s a film that has Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune and Alain Delon together duking it out? Doesn’t exit right? Incorrect foo’!
Le Samourai vs. Death Wish vs. Yojimbo
Believe it or not, this film exists! The French call it, Soleil rouge but I know it best as Red Sun which I was lucky enough to catch at 16 mm print. Did I mention it’s a Euro western with Samurais? Why isn’t this film more of a cult item?
The samurais and cowboys plot isn’t as wacky as you’d initially think. It involves Link (Charles Bronson) and Gauche (Alain Delon) are robbers that attack a train which happens to be taking the ambassador of Japan over to Washington. During the robbery, Gauche steals a gold sword which was intended as a gift from the emperor to the president. Gauche even crosses Link by trying to kill him in order to take the money all for himself. The only survivor of the sword theft is the samurai Kuroda (Toshirô Mifune) who teams up with Link to find Gauche. Gauche isn’t keen on the idea (classic moment where Bronson states that Mifune looks like he’s wearing a dress) but the two travel together so that Kuroda can take back the sword while Link just wants his share of the money.
Red Sun was directed by Terence Young who I brought up in my Thunderball review. From what I’ve seen of Young I find him to be a decent director who can give a film good pacing, even if its lacking in emitting any really exciting or memorable moments. With that, Young makes Red Sun, enjoyable but a bit muffled. Problems arise with the villain, as Bronson and Mifune team up to chase down Delon, I found it hard to get really into their crusade as Delon’s character Gauche is not a villain who I felt strongly against enough. Sure he took the gold and ran off but so what? He takes off midway through the picture so your blood never really boils over his villainous deeds. Towards the end of the film, Delon even stops becoming the main villain as some very cliche Indians storm the fields and begin attacking the four (did I forget to mention that Ursula Andress is in this?). This attack does lead to the most exciting scene in the film however, involving a fire in a tall grass where Delon, Mifune, Bronson (and even Andress with a shotgun!) begin to take out Indians as flames begin to surround them. Good stuff!
As Andress and Delon vanish for a large chunk of the film, the rest mostly involves Mifune and and Bronson. If you autmatically like these guys like me then you’ll enjoy seeing them on screen side-by-side. Most of their interactions are mildly amusing despite it being the typical “we-are-different-but-I-am-slowly-learning-to-understand-you” plot that we’ve all seen a dozen times. It seems to remind me of another East meets West films from years back…
Without the Gauche plot, it’s just Rush Hour!
I’ll stick with Red Sun over this though! There’s not a whole lot of background on the films of Terrence Young outside of the Bond series, let alone Red Sun in particular. It received generally negative reviews on it’s release with critics saying that Mifune and Bronson were too old to be playing these kind of roles (Alain Delon is quite a bit younger than both of them) and that the film was just stupid. I disagree with these blanket statements as nowadays, it’s a trip to see these actors and will definitely satisfy your Cowboys and Samurais fix. I wonder how Mifune felt about the film, as after it’s completion he took four year break from acting. What was he up doing?
Red Sun is not an overlty great film but despite it’s cast, I don’t think it has a big enough cult following. If the cast alone peaks your interest then this is worth seeking out. If not, there’s still worse Terrence Young films out there. Ever tried watching Inchon?