Branded a coward for surrendering his New Mexico fort to the Confederates without firing a shot, a Union colonel attempts to redeem himself by leading a band of condemned prisoners on a suicide mission to recapture it.
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A misfit group led by James Coburn in search of millions of dollars in gold buried under an impregnable fortress commanded by Telly Savallas
A group of conscripted convicts formed by seven condemned , already destined for death row, are drafted to go on a near-suicide mission and attempt to recapture a Missouri fort called Fort Holzman . They must carry out the objective and reconquest the keep with the understanding that if the Confederate don't murder them, the Union Army won't, either . A two-fisted U.S. ex-officer and the ambitious drifters , join forces to rob a lot of gold located into an impressive fortress where is supposedly hidden a treasure , 500.000 dollars in gold bars taken from a Confederate bank . In the hands of hardboiled director Tonino Valeri and a tough-as-leather cast headed by the commander James Coburn , as a troublesome U.S. Army official , that's all the plot that's needed to make one rip-roaring Spaghetti Western flick. Coburn's mission is two-fold and in ¨Dirty dozen ¨ style : first turn his prisoners into a fighting unit and then turn them loose on a Southern fortress occupied by Confederate soldiers commanded by cruel Major Telly Savallas . His crime-minded characters include Bud Spencer as a chronic malcontent, Benito Stefanelli as a ready-to-blow psycho, Hugo Fangareggi as a lame-brained convict , and Reinhard Kolldehoff as Union sergeant, among others . The first half of the film allows the colorful cast of character actors to have their fun as they get their tails whipped into shape and develop shaky relationship with their leader. The final part is all action, as the culprit commandos wreck havoc and then run for their lives. Despite the fact that few of the "heroes" survive the bloodbath, the message here isn't that war is hell. Rather, it seems to be: war can be a hell of a good time... if you've got nothing to lose . Pretty good S.W. about a relentless and exciting dangerous mission set against spectacular scenery of Almeria. The relentless assignment is set against strong environment, risked mountains and hazardous trails . The dangerous pursuit includes a numerous group formed by a motley cast . It will be a long and dangerous pursuit with continuous risks . This Western is superior than subsequent entries because it displays stirring adventures, shootouts, riding pursuits and is pretty amusing.
It's an exciting SW with breathtaking final showdown between the protagonists and their enemies full of explosions , machine gun and deaths . James Coburn is very fine, he ravages the screen, he steals the show as Union colonel seeking revenge . Telly Savallas as a cruelly baddie role as confederate officer is terrific , subsequently the would play similar roles in other Spaghettis . Furthermore, appears usual secondaries of Italian/Spanish Western as Benito Stefanelli , Francisco Sanz , Jose Suarez and of course special mention to Bud Spencer in a serious role . The film blends violence, blood, tension, high body-count and though the first part is slow moving , however is quite entertaining. There is plenty of action in the movie , guaranteeing a shootout or stunt every few minutes. There are many fine technicians and nice assistant direction and excellent production design with a magnificent scenario plenty of barren outdoors, dirty landscapes under a glimmer sun and a fine set on the final scenes . The musician Riz Ortalani composes a nice Spaghetti soundtrack and well conducted ; it's full of enjoyable sounds and emotive score . The film is well shot in Texas Hollywood-Fort Bravo, Almeria, Spain with a breathtaking set design at the impressive fortress which was made by Julio Molina for ¨the Condor ¨ movie , one of the best ever created and where were posteriorly filmed several Spaghetti as ¨ Blind man ¨, ¨ A man called Noon¨ and ¨Conan the Barbarian¨. Nevertheless, today the fort has been partially crumbled and only remain some ruins .
Tonino Valeri's so-so direction is well crafted, here he's less cynical and humorous and more inclined toward violence and too much action especially on its ending part . Colorful and evocative cinematography by Alejandro Ulloa , reflecting marvelously the habitual Almeria outdoors . The picture is well directed by Tonio Valeri , an expert on Western as proved in ¨The hired gun ¨ , ¨My name is nobody ¨ with Fonda and Terence Hill , ¨The price of power ¨ with Giuliano Gemma and Van Heflin , ¨The day of anger ¨with Lee van Cleef and ¨ Taste of Killing¨ with Craig Hill and George Martin .
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