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Featured DVD Review: Sixgun

July 1st, 2010

Sixgun - Buy from Amazon

Sixgun is direct-to-DVD Western. I review a lot of direct-to-DVD films, so many that they start to blend together in my mind. The fact that this film is a Western does help it stand out, but its name doesn't. Speaking of the name, I believe the original name of the film was Six Gun, two words, not Sixgun, one word, as it is on the DVD cover and opening credits. I say that because there is another film called Sixgun coming out this year, but it is a 15-minute short film. All the information on (actors, director, running length) are for that short. This could explain why its sales ranking is so low. How many people out there would be willing to spend $24.49 for a 15-minute film? (Someone might want to correct that.) But is the actual movie worth picking up, or at least checking out?

The film starts with a wordless dispute between four men, only one of which walks away alive.

We are then taken to a ranch that is obviously in need of repair but is understaffed. The ranch hands are leaving because it's clear the owner, Tommy, is about to be foreclosed on and they want to find jobs on successful ranches before that happens. Tommy is a retired bounty hunter who is years past his prime; however, when and old cohort of his, Red, travels to the ranch, he tells hims of the shootout involving the four men, and how it was over stolen money. Red has an idea, the two of them, and two of his remaining ranch hands, Gunter and Will, will go to where the survivor is holed up and take the money. Gunter is dead set against doing this, as he's against killing anyone, even a murdering thief. Will, on the other hand, he's a little more enthusiastic about the whole affair. A little too eager. He's been talking about going to Japan for a while, and he thinks this is his one shot to get the money he needs to get there. Tommy's son, Trav, also wants to go along, but his father thinks it will be too dangerous. And he's right, but not for the reasons he thinks.

It turns out the money was original stolen from Jake, who is a special kind of evil. (His opening scene has him introducing the town to the 14-year old girl, Rose, he just kidnapped.) He's rich and powerful and with the help of hired guns, led by Bear, he controls the town through fear. He sends Bear and some other goons looking for the money, so you know their path will cross with Tommy's sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Violet, Jake's mistress of sorts, turns on him and tries to free Rose, but is quickly caught and is thrown in jail. And this is where she meets Tommy, Gunter, and Will. (Bear easily got the drop on them.) And all are told that in the morning, they are to be executed. However, Violet proves to be a resourceful ally and the four of them escape and go on the run, but Bear and some more of Jake's men on right on their tail. And another confrontation is inevitable.

One of the special features is an audio commentary track with the director, Scott Perry. In it he mentions having problems with one of the actors he had cast, because they didn't get the tone of the movie. They thought it was a broad comedy, not a serious Western as he intended. There are times in this movie where I was confused as well. The bad guy, Jake, kidnaps a 14-year old girl for lascivious reasons; that's about as evil as you can get. On the other hand, shortly afterward, his informant ask for a bottle of alcohol as a reward for passing on the information and he tells Bear to, "Take care of him." So, Bear takes him out back and shoots him. However, Jake meant, 'Give him his bottle of alcohol and send him on his way.' That level of miscommunication is very broad humor and it is not the only example. The jump in tone is quite jarring at times.

Also, the film was a little predictable. For instance, Gunter refuses to to on the mission until Tommy promises there will be no killing, so you know Gunter's the one going to kill the guy. Travis is left behind by his dad, because he dad doesn't want him in danger, so you know the bad guys will go to the ranch and shoot him when they can't get to his father. Will is the only one who talks about having a goal, so you know he's going to die.

That said, even with these issues, it is still an effective story with enough going for it that fans of the genre will want to check it out. It has some nice character moments, particularly on the trail early in the movie. There are also some fine performance with a cast that includes some less than seasoned professionals. Marlene Perez, who plays Rose, was very effective in a silent role. There's also good cinematography and for the most part the film looks great, especially for a film that is shot on a $3000 camera.

Extras include the aforementioned audio commentary track with Scott Perry, who talks about the difficulties associated with making films on a tiny budget. (He doesn't give the exact figure, but he says the film cost well less below $100,000 to make.) It's not very energetic, which is common for most solo tracks, but it has plenty of information and it is worth checking out. There is also a seven-minute featurette with stories from the shoot. It's audio with members of the cast over clips from the movie and there are some fun stories here. (Apparently there was an encounter with the Chupacabra on location.) It sounds like the cast had a fun time.

The Verdict

I've reviewed a lot of low-budget direct-to-DVD movies over the years that fall into a lot of different genres. Action, horror, drama, comedy are all common genres in this field. Western is not. This helps Sixgun stand out and while the movie isn't exactly original, enough works that it is worth checking out. The DVD has more extras than many similar releases and is a solid rental, leaning toward a purchase.

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