• The Gambler III – The Legend Continues



    Released by: Time Life

    Released on: January 10, 2006.
    Director: Dick Lowry
    Cast: Kenny Rogers, Jeffrey Jones, Michael Berryman, Bruce Boxleitner, Linda Gray, Colm Meany, George Kennedy, Dean Stockwell
    Year: 1987
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    The Movie:


    The third (and in this reviewer's opinion, the best) of the films in the series reunites pretty much all the cast members from the first movie and throws in a few new ones, played by an interesting cast of supporting actors, some of whom you might be shocked to see in a made for TV Kenny Rogers vehicle. Speaking of Kenny, he's a little on the rolly-polly side in this third film, not looking to be at the height of his famous gambling and fighing powers, but still able to punch out a bad guy or two when the need should arise.


    This time around, Brady and Billy have a more noble mission than making it to a gambling tournament, though Brady makes a point of engaging in a few card games along the way, as is his nature. They get word that things are going south in the government's talks with the Sioux Indians who live in the area and so who better to get involved in the negotiations than Kenny Rogers? He can do anything he sets his mind to. At any rate, Brady and Billy head out to Sioux territory and meet up with Buffalo Bill (played by Jeffrey Jones who has recently been excellent in Deadwood!) along the way. Once they start talking to the Sioux, however, Brady and Billy realize that they've been duped and it's actually the government that is being difficult as they're trying to screw over the good Native Americans, not the other way around as 'the man' would have Brady believe.


    Being the champion of justice that he is, Brady takes up the Sioux cause as his own and before you know it he and Billy are fighting alongside Sitting Bull himself to help make things right for the Sioux and to make sure that they're treated fairly but there are so1diers and corrupt government officials and guys who don't like playing cards with Brady standing in their way that will have to be dealt with first.


    The plot this time out is a little more complex in that it is slightly multi-layered in spots. Kenny walks through the movie with that natural charm that is his persona and while he's not the most enthusiastic cat to ever hit the small screen, he's a likeable enough guy, even if it's hard not to giggle at him when he's fighting bad guys clad in some fine banana yellow pants. More so than other films in the series, this one features some interesting cameo roles. In addition to the aforementioned appearance from Jeffrey Jones, be on the look out for none other than Michael Berryman in a supporting role as one of the soldiers. Those who are only familiar with him from his best known role, that of Pluto from Wes Craven's original The Hills Have Eyes, might be a bit taken aback by seeing him here but when this reviewer spoke to a slightly inebriated Berryman at a fan convention about this part in 2005, Berryman assured him that they got along famously and that Kenny Rogers was honestly as nice as guy as you'd expect him to be. But wait, there's more! None other than George Kennedy of Just Before Dawn and The Delta Force pops up here as well, playing an officer in the proud United States Army. Still not convinced? Soap opera starlet extraordinaire Linda Gray has a part here too, as does none other than Colm Meany from The Commitments. Truly, this is a star studded cast, proving that only the finest may share the screen with Kenny Rogers.


    Clocking in at over three hours in length (the second film did as well), this one packs in everything you'd expect from the series at this point. Goofy humor, clichéd but enjoyable characters, fisticuffs, sharp shooting, cowboys and injuns and a damsel in distress or two. It doesn't stray too far from the formula that made the first two movies so successful and by throwing in as many guest stars as it does you can play a game of 'spot the B celebrity' while enjoying Kenny's exploits.


    Unfortunately for whatever reason, Time/Life opted not to include the fourth and fifth films in this set. Say what you will, but it is a shame that you can't own them all in one handy dandy collection, though they are available as a double feature DVD if you want to own them all and go to the effort of tracking them down to complete your collection of Kenny Rogers The Gambler movies – and you know you do.


    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Well, seeing as all of the The Gambler movies were made for TV, it's no surprise to see that this second film is presented fullframe for this DVD set as that's the aspect ratio that the movies were composed for. As far as the quality of the image goes, there is some grain and some dirt on the all of the prints at random intervals as well as some mild mpeg compression in a few spots but the color reproduction isn't half bad and the skin tones look alright. Some fine detail gets lost as the picture leans toward the soft side of things at times but the movie is always watchable. This is an acceptable transfer, just not a remarkable one.

    The Gambler III: The Legend Continues hits DVD with a decent Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks in English, with no alternate language dubs, subtitles, or closed captions available. As with the video presentation, this is far from perfect but there'll be time enough for complaining, when the dealings done. The limitations of the original recordings do show through and there is a certain flatness to a lot of what we hear, but the music sounds decent and you won't have any problems understanding the dialogue even if there is some hiss here and there.


    Whoever was in charge of gathering up supplements for this release must have been too busy starring out the window into the darkness to come up with anything, as this bitch be bare bones. The boxed set, however, does contain a set of The Gambler branded playing cards, so you really can find an ace that you can keep if you're willing to lay your money down on this set.


    The Final Word:

    The lack of extra features is a crying shame but boy howdy does The Gambler III – The Legend Continues ever rock, Kenny-style.