In 1909 Arizona, retired lawman Sam Burgade's life is thrown upside-down when his old enemy Zach Provo and six other convicts escape a chain-gang in the Yuma Territorial Prison and come gunning for Burgade.
A pair of grizzled frontiersmen fight Indians, guzzle liquor and steal squaws in their search for a legendary valley 'so full of beaver that they jump right into your traps' in this fanciful adventure.
After the Civil War, ex-Confederate soldiers heading for a new life in Mexico run into ex-Union cavalrymen selling horses to the Mexican government but they must join forces to fight off Mexican bandits and revolutionaries.
In the early 20th century, some convicts while on a road gang escape and one of the convicts is Zach Provo, a half Indian, who was sent to prison during the latter part of the 19th century. He escapes with 6 others to exact vengeance on Sam Burgade the lawman who not only captured him but was also responsible for the death of Provo's wife, at least in Provo's mind. Part of his plan is to kidnap Burgade's daughter, which prompts him to strap on his guns and go after him on horseback. Can Burgade who has been retired for sometime still have what it takes to track Provo down?Written by
Typically violent and brutal, but rather plodding western that has shades of film-maker Sam Peckinpah streaming through it. Coming in towards the back-end of a dying genre, "The Last Hard Man" sees the traditional American Wild West making way for modern times involving steam trains, telephones, cars and telegrams. However amongst these changes are two, very dogged nemesis coming to blows, but they do things the way they know best and rarely embrace the changes to help in some shape. Its old-fashion horse-back tracking is simplistic, where it's all about the primal instinct for revenge. Now it's personal. Vendettas loom. A cat and mouse game is started, where the two never back down for each other. They battle it out, knowing each others moves. But the actions which are perceived are surprisingly twisted in a way to gain some sort of upper hand.
Charlton Heston plays an aging, but retired sheriff Sam Burgade who suddenly gets back in the saddle after the man he put away a decade ago Zach Provo (James Coburn) escapes. Burgade knows he would be a target, as Provo blames him for his Navajo woman's death. So Burgade puts himself out there, but Provo surprises him by kidnapping his daughter.
It's probably not as exciting as it could have been where the set-pieces just causally morph and the operatic dramas only blister. Well that's until it reaches its rough, but very intense and unpleasant climax between the two men. It's quite a memorable, if barbaric standoff mainly due to Coburn's character's delusional state of mind. Coburn simply commands the screen, even when he isn't igniting it and he just nails down the part as the half-breed who becomes so obsessed in seeing Burgade squirm. While Heston is more in checked with a professionally sturdy turn. The support cast are just as good with the likes of Chris Mitchum, Larry Wilcox, Barbara Hershey and Michael Parks.
Director Andrew V. McLaglen's handling is tough and gritty, while slow grinding it did bestow some flashy moments of slow-motion to heighten the emotional effect of certain situations. However in the end those moments just felt more pointless and the visuals really do centre of the repugnant side. It's hard-headed in a weary manner, but it remains efficient. Jerry Goldsmith's palatable music score is serviceable, if nothing more.
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