31 August 2018 | Coventry
As mean and nasty as Spaghetti Westerns get!
Although very obscure and unsung, this is truly one of the best spaghetti westerns I ever saw! Massimo Dallamano's "Bandidos" has a good and compelling plot, albeit working from familiar western themes like blood vengeance and dueling gunmen, and most of all, it's unrelenting, mean-spirited, vile and extremely violent! First, a word of advice that I sadly must mention in too many of my user-comments: do not read the plot synopsis that is described here on the website! You are not supposed to know from beforehand who the protagonists of the story are and what connects them! The synopsis bluntly gives away why the three lead characters (Richard Martin, Billy Kane and Ricky Shot) hate each other's guts, but only in the final act of the film the pieces of the puzzle fit neatly together.
Everything obviously revolves around the extremely bloody train raid at the beginning. This is undoubtedly one of the cruelest massacres in western history! Relentless gangster Billy Kane and his fierce gang rob a driving train, steal all the passengers' belongings and then nihilistically execute everyone on board. Well, everyone except one, the meticulously sharp-shooting Richard Martin, whom Billy Kane clearly knows from a previous life. Kane shoots holes in both of Martin's hands, though, so that he can never operate a pistol again. Years later, Martin desperately tries to make a living out of training young gunslingers into masterful shootists and perform live-acts at town squares. His pupils keep getting killed by jesters, however, but then he meets a handsome and mysterious young stranger. Martin's intention is clearly to train his new pupil to be capable of murdering Billy Kane for him, but the clever Ricky Shot has his own secretive reasons for wanting to confront Kane.
"Bandidos" certainly hasn't stolen its title! It's full of loathsome, egocentric, double-crossing and furious men whose lives aren't worth more than the price of the bullets that kill them. The three relatively unknown lead actors give away terrific performances and Dallamano's direction is downright stupendous. I don't know what it was about this man, but practically every genre that he touched turned into gold! His "What have you done to Solange?" is my all-time favorite giallo (and I've seen more than 120 of those) and his "Colt .38 Special Squad" is one of the better Poliziotesschi thrillers out there. With "Bandidos", he also nailed the Spaghetti Western genre! As I watched the film in its original version, my sole complaint is that the characters' names sound ridiculous when pronounced in Italian.