Red Sun


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Red Sun sounds like a great idea, an old-fashioned Western triangle between a good guy, a bad guy, and an unpredictable rogue with a touch of nobility. The recipe is spiced with some foreign flavors since the three leads are tough guys from three different continents. The bad guy is Alain Delon, who has an amazingly good grasp of the nuances of American speech and mannerisms. The good guy is Toshiro Mifune. The wisecracking loose cannon is Charles Bronson.

Bronson and Delon start the film by leading an outlaw gang intent on relieving a mail train of some gold. To make matters more complicated, perhaps too complicated, the train is guarded by the U.S. Army, and is attacked by Comanches during the robbery, so people are blowing each other apart in all directions. When the dust has cleared, Bronson just wants to get the money and get on the road, but Delon ends up killing several people needlessly, including an emissary of the Japanese delegation to Washington, which had a private car on the train. Delon also takes a shine to a gold-embossed samurai sword intended as a gift to the President, and steals it from the Japanese ambassador, even though the booty from the hold-up is enough for him to live on forever. Needless to say, the kingpin samurai (Mifune) swears revenge against Delon. Delon double-crosses Bronson at the end of the robbery and leaves him for dead, but our man refuses to die, so revenge-bent Mifune makes Bronson lead him to the official outlaw lair. The film also features that rootin'-tootin' Western buckaroo Ursula Andress as a scheming prostitute who provides the  connection between Delon and Bronson.

I know it sounds like a great premise for a Western, and it should have been, since it was directed by the man who did three of the first four James Bond movies. It has plenty of action and cross-cultural wisecracks, and the gorgeous Ursula Andress naked, so it should have functioned as the perfect setting for a "mismatched buddy" picture, which is one of Hollywood's most dependable formulas.

It just doesn't work out that well in execution. After the train robbery, which is a good sequence, the rest of the film plods, and basically consists of a series of unlikely plot twists in which the hooker and the Comanches inevitably pick the right moment to do what is necessary to advance the plot. Every time the white people are about to settle their scores, the Comanches (obviously some Mediterranean guys in wigs) appear out of nowhere to change the equation, and then to circle around everyone in the official mad whooping frenzy of all Hollywood Indians, riding in the open, acting dutifully as target practice for the others, who then resume their intrigues when all the Comanches have been dispatched to the Happy Hunting Ground. There is no character development for any of the Comanches, nor are they even recognizable as separate individuals. They are all simply anonymous, convenient devices and their attacks just slow down the development of the central conflict. Sometimes their appearance is so obviously a forced plot device that its just downright silly. Two examples:

     * When Bronson is in an inescapable scrape, captured by the baddies and about to be plugged full of hot lead by one of Delon's henchmen, an unexpected (and unheard) Comanche attack gives Bronson an unlikely reprieve just as the henchman's hammer is cocked. This is the only time in the film when the Comanches appeared without their customary war whoops. I suppose that could be explained by a stealth tactic, but what can't be explained is that they were not sneaking up on foot. There were dozens of them and they were all riding hard, yet none of the West-toughened white men (nor we in the audience) heard the thundering hooves! Fortunately for the white men, the Comanches followed up their tricky surprise attack with the obligatory tactic of circling around in the open while whooping and waiting to get picked off by white men shooting from behind proper cover. No wonder they lost the West. I wonder why they didn't use their red war paint to create bull's-eyes on their chests.

     * Bronson holds Andress, Delon's woman, as a hostage to trade for the gold and sword. When Andress escapes, it appears that all is lost for Bronson because he has lost all his negotiating leverage, but the Comanches conveniently capture Andress before she can reach the outlaws' hideout, thus allowing Bronson to rescue her and bring her back under his control.

As you can see, the Comanches functioned as a lazy screenwriter's deus ex machina, completely irrelevant to the main plot conflict, but somehow showing up conveniently every time the script painted something or somebody into a corner.

Other elements of the script are just as weak. Ursula Andress's predictable betrayals get old after the first one (fool me once ...), and the film goes almost dead right after the exciting opening sequence, slowing to a crawl when Mifune and Bronson spend way too much time just strolling through the uninhabited open expanses of the West on foot until they finally encounter some other humans. The film's main assets were obviously the three iconic tough guys, and the screenwriters needed to bring them together sooner and more ingeniously.

The best thing in the film is Mifune, whose precise use of his sword makes for some excellent fight sequences. There's one terrific early scene in which Bronson, then still a reluctant ally, tries to break free from Mifune's grasp. The unarmed Bronson shoves the samurai down an embankment in order to buy enough time to fashion a club from a tree branch. When Mifune reappears at the top of the hill, a newly prepared Bronson takes three mighty swings at him with the makeshift weapon, and each time Mifune parries the attack with a precise swing of his sword which leaves Bronson with a smaller club. After the third thrust and parry, the American is left with nothing in his hand but a tiny stump. That was a great scene because of its imagination and humor, and because of Mifune's expert swordsmanship, but most of the film just consists of lazy and stock Western movie formulas.


* full screen (thankfully not pan-n-scan, but the full 35mm output)

* Region 2

* PAL format

* no features except a trailer

* BUT - a very beautiful transfer which makes it look like a new movie.



  No major reviews online.


6.8 IMDB summary (of 10)


No information available.


  • Ursula Andress - one breast, and her buns whole running in a towel
  • Monica Randall - breasts in excellent light
  • Toshiro Mifune - buns in thong-style undies.



















Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It's a watchable genre film with some positives, but one which is nowhere near as good as it should have been. From the film's description I should have loved it, but didn't.