• Adiós, Sabata

    Released By: Kino Lorber
    Released On: May 9, 2017.
    Director: Gianfranco Parolini
    Cast: Yul Brynner, Dean Reed, Ignazio Spalla, Gérard Herter
    Year: 1970
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Originally conceived as a Spaghetti Western that would follow a fancy gunslinger named Indio Black, 1970's Adiós, Sabata was altered to capitalize on the success of the 1969 film Sabata, the tale of a not-so-fancy gunslinger played by badass Lee Van Cleef. In a strange kind of role reversal, Van Cleef was unable to take part because of his role in the third sequel to The Magnificent Seven, in which he would play the part made famous by Yul Brynner...and so, Yul Brynner was brought in to play the title character. Returning for the second film were Director Gianfranco Parolini, Writer Renato Izzo, and Cinematographer Sandro Mancori, promising an excellence consistent with the 1969 original, and the inimitable Bruno Nicolai was brought on board to ensure a top-notch score.

    Set in 1867, Adiós, Sabata finds Mexico subjected to near-daily revolutions as a variety of other countries attempt to colonize the rugged landscape and her feisty citizens. The latest successful contender is Austria's monocle-sporting Colonel Skimmel (Gérard Herter), who has discovered that the key to success lies in paying off informants to keep his men abreast of potential uprisings from armed locals. One of these armed local revolutionaries decides that the only way to take down the Austrian interlopers is to employ mercenary-for-hire Sabata (Brynner), a fringy-leather-suit-wearing marksman with a quirky rifle loaded with bullets and a cigar, and have him steal a wagon full of gold protected by an armed convoy.

    Sabata agrees to help the cause, and heads off in search of the gold with Escudo (Pedro Sanchez), and his two men, a gunslinger with a flair for spur-jangling, tap dancing, and gymnastics, and an assassin who uses a molded shoe to fatally roundhouse kick ball bearings into his enemies' faces. The outlaws are quick to track down the wealth-carrying wagon, but are unable to steal the contents...because Skimmel's men are already on the job, taking the gold's protectors out with a hidden Gatling gun! Sabata does what he can, using his fancy weapon to take out as many bad guys as he can, but it's a futile attempt as the gold disappears into the sunset.

    Fortunately, a potential ally appears in the form of Ballantine (Dean Reed), a handsome-looking blond fella who holds favour with Skimmel and may be able to help Sabata and his friends steal the gold back. Sabata wins Ballantine's confidence in a showdown that ends with a...beautiful piano duet???...but can he really trust a man that won't play the melody? If not, it's curtains for the gunslinger and his revolutionary friends in the form of an Austrian firing squad, a formidable threat that will certainly be immune to load-firing spinkicks and spur-spinning backflips.

    To put it plainly, Adiós, Sabata is a disappointing followup to a classic film of the genre. In spite of Nicolai's mind-blowing score, this film doesn't manage to do much outside of recycling SW tropes from start to finish, while simultaneously attempting to rely on the gadgetry and quirkiness that complimented the original Sabata, but by no means was the sole selling point. True, it's somewhat nifty to see Brynner's harmonica clip-loaded rifle sporting a cigar in the last chamber for that post-shootout victory smoke, and the ball bearing kicker is entertaining the first time, but they don't really hold a candle to a shotgun banjo. The writing here is basically a SW Greatest Hits Mixtape; a machine gun under a covered wagon, a gold shipment robbery, fat, bandolier-wearing bearded Mexicans, the demolition of a bridge; and although the final scenes do show off Parolini's skills as a Director, the rest of the film is a bit of a mess. Camera shots don't always flow; the standoff in the piano bar is the most obvious example; and aside from a finale that nicely nods to the finale in the first film, this could have been directed by anyone.

    And of course, there's Yul Brynner, himself, as the title character. Certainly a fine actor and a badass in his own right, Brynner doesn't do much to fill the large boots of Van Cleef, appearing more concerned about his wardrobe with its dangling fringes and a clean-shaven appearance than portraying a deadly mercenary. His lines are dreadful, "I'll play the melody." being the biggest offender, and he's just too damned pretty to be playing Sabata, never convincing enough to carry the film, never mind comparing to Lee Van Cleef. It's obvious what the film makers were thinking of when they decided to make this film a sequel, and Adiós, Sabata is a convincing argument that sucky sequels done for cash money aren't a recent development.


    Kino Lorber brings Adiós, Sabata to Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 AVC-encoded transfer that harkens back to the early days of Kino Lorber releases, that is to say that it's a big step backward from the beautiful presentations that we've seen recently. Detail is good in close-ups, and the picture is largely acceptable without transfer flaws such as compression, but it's apparent that not much if any work was done on restoration here. Dirt, damage, and speckling occur frequently, with one onscreen blemish appearing and staying for an extremely long period of time. Colours are good for the most part, but this is not a transfer that will convince anyone of the advantages of high definition.

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English track fares about as well as the picture does; it's tinny in spots, range is unbalanced in others, and that beautiful score distorts far too often. Likely, this is a flaw in the source material, but it's noticeable and not always pleasant. Still, dialogue is audible and clear for the most part, and the rest of the flaws, the hisses, the pops, the crackles, don't prevent the movie from being heard.

    No subtitles are available.

    Kino has supplied a handful of trailers in the Bonus menu on this disc; trailers for Sabata, Adiós, Sabata, The Return of Sabata, Invitation to a Gunfighter, Kings of the Sun, and The File of the Golden Goose are available.

    The Final Word:

    It's got its fans, but this reviewer isn't one. A disappointing sequel to a classic gets an underwhelming presentation on Blu-ray.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Very well-written review, Mark!
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Considering the state of half-inebriation it was written in, thanks, Chris!
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Today is Yul Brynner's birthday, oddly enough.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -