In honor of my father-in-law, a retired professor of astronomy, this week we will spend exploring our solar system in the movies, starting of course with the sun. Red Sun is currently available on instant Netflix.
WATCH: Red Sun (1971) – Rated PG for adult content, adult language, brief nudity, and violence.
“This 1971 Western from director Terence Young stars Charles Bronson as an outlaw named Link who teams up with Kuroda (Toshirô Mifune), a noble samurai warrior, to track down a jeweled sword that the Japanese ambassador gifted to the U.S. president. The unlikely pair travels across the American Southwest in search of Gauche (Alain Delon), who double-crossed Link and made off with the priceless weapon. Ursula Andress and Guido Lollobrigida co-star.”
“Make no mistake Kuroda is no ordinary man.”
“Wrong. One Mosquito.” – one deft slice later – “No mosquito.”
“That is Christina for you. You never know which gun she is going to reach for.”
This film smacks of a committee to make it appeal to all countries. American tough guy Charles Bronson is the lead here. Toshiro Mifune appeals to the Asian market and French actor Alain Delon plays the villain. Round out with the striking Swiss actress Ursula Andress and have famed British director Terence Young take the reins.
Hysterically in the Philippines this film is known as “The Magnificent Three” in spite of the fact that it is two men on the trail of a third and his gang.
Terence Young does a nice job of keeping this East Meets Western movie moving. This cinematography looks attractive but it is hard to tell because of the butchered print.
It is unfortunate that this is presented in a cropped for TV format. This was originally filmed in standard widescreen (1.85:1) and Westerns, perhaps more than any other genre, benefit greatly from a panoramic view. Many of the Spanish locations look beautiful.
Just prior to this Young had made Cold Sweat with Bronson. Young of course made his name by directing the first three James bond films so he knows how to handle action with a touch of comedy. Presumably he picked Andress because he enjoyed working with her on Dr. No.
Charles Bronson is fun to watch and makes a good action hero even if he does not have much range. Red Sun helps mark his turning point from valuable supporting actor (The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, Once Upon a Time in the West) to leading man. Over the next few years he would do some of his best work in The Mechanic (1972), Death Wish (1974), and Breakheart Pass (1975).
Toshiro Mifune is always great (why yes I am biased thanks for asking). Even this rare English speaking role is no exception. This is not one of his masterpieces (Yojimbo, Sanjuro, well anything by Kurosawa really) but is fun.
Alain Delon and Ursula Andress have a lot of fun with their roles as well. Unfortunately the rest of the cast are mostly just targets.
The climactic fight takes place in an burned-out mission in the middle of some marvelously high grass. It is an inspired choice of location and makes the climax quite memorable.
I happily give this fun romp a watch recommendation even if it is a little on the cheesy side. The only drawbacks are the aspect ratio and the somewhat goofy looking “Indians” in the third act.
This was essentially remade as Shanghai Noon (2000) starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in place of Mifune and Bronson. Red Sun is an action movie with comic elements whereas Shanghai Noon is a comedy with action elements.
People Watch: Former model Capucine has a small but fun part as Pepita.