Sunday, November 17, 2013

Shoot The Sun Down (Blu-ray Review) - Kino Lorber

Directed By: David Leeds
Written By: David Leeds
Starring: Christopher Walken, Margot Kidder, Geoffrey Lewis
Color/99 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A

The Film
Christopher Walken stars as Rainbow, an ex-Confederate soldier who left the war due to being ordered to slaughter indians. Now Rainbow spends his time as a bounty hunter, making money taking in wanted criminals dead or alive. He encounters a young woman (Margot Kidder) who is trying to get home to New Orleans from their current location in Santa Fe. She tells Rainbow a story that he doesn't believe, trying to get him to escort her through the dangerous territories back to her home. All the while a nasty man (Geoffrey Lewis) is on the loose, hunting Montezuma's gold and taking scalps along the way. 

The nasty man, gets a hold of the woman, who was sold into servanthood as a young girl, and discovers some golden treasure. Rainbow and some of his Native American friends team up to take down the scalphunters and rescue the damsel in distress. 

SHOOT THE SUN DOWN is, if anything, an uneven film. Made by the time the Euro Western cycle had practically been dead for a few years, this American production, the only credit for writer/director David Leeds toes the line between a piece of avant garde filmmaking ripe with social commentary and a rather dull western that feels like we've been-there-done-that and it was better before. David Leeds is capable as director, but his writing lacks the punch and feeling of urgency that the powerful and climactic moments need to get the audience to feel their full potential. 

The cast is decent. I'd say nobody really drops the ball but before watching the film I found it difficult to picture Christopher Walken as some sort of gunslinging old west badass and after watching the film he did little to change my mind. I think Walken is a good actor, don't get me wrong, but he just doesn't pull off a convincing western character and that is a major detractor for me as he is the lead and main protagonist.  The film features a pretty solid spaghetti western-esque score that is one of the highlights of the film. There is also enough action and fighting to keep things fun. 

The Audio & Video
The anamorphic widescreen transfer maintains the film's original Scope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and Kino Lorber has done a decent job with the video side of things. As always with Kino they haven't done much in the way of cleaning up the print, there is a bit of white speckling throughout the duration. This is nothing to get annoyed over, it only reminds us that we are watching a film. There are some other instances of dirt, scratches and very minor print damage but nothing major at all. The quality of the transfer is generally good, flesh tones look nice and there is no edge enhancement or digital fuckery to be found. Detail levels are a mixed bag as sometimes they're quite strong and other times the image is soft and muddy. I find this to be more of the source material than anything Kino has done wrong. 

From an audio standpoint SHOOT THE SUN DOWN is great. The 2.0 track is in English and sounds pretty damn good. There is no background noise, and overall there's nothing to complain about the sound quality or audio mix. There are no subtitles available.  

The Extras 
Special features include an alternate opening title sequence with an original song by Kinky Friedman. It is nice to have but I prefer it the standard way. There is also a theatrical trailer.

The Bottom Line
While SHOOT THE SUN DOWN is by no means an essential western, it is decent and filled with familiar names in the cast. Kino did a nice job with the transfer and overall disc presentation so fans of the genre will find enough here to be pleased about. I'd love to see Kino tackle some spaghetti western films as they've shown they're capable of doing solid work within the western genre. 


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