• Return of Sabata

    Released By: Kino Lorber
    Released On: May 9, 2017.
    Director: Gianfranco Parolini
    Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Annabella Incontrera, Ignazio Spalla, Reiner Schöne
    Year: 1971
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    The Movie:

    The strange saga of the man known as Sabata comes to a close with the final film in the trilogy, Return of Sabata. Gianfranco Parolini (Frank Kramer) is once again at the helm as Director, Renato Izzo maintains his position as writer, Sandro Mancori is still Cinematographer, and the amazing Bruno Nicolai, who scored Adios, Sabata is bumped from the music department to make way for the return of Marcello Giombini. The best news of all, though, for fans of the character, is the return of favourite badass Lee Van Cleef in the title role.

    Times have changed for Sabata (Lee Van Cleef) in this latest installment; the legendary outlaw now makes a living as part of a traveling circus, using his formidable gunslinging talents in a sideshow wherein his opponents meet fake deaths at the hands of fake bullets, their fabricated fatalities celebrated by the arrival of clowns bearing hula hoops. During one such show in Hobsonville, Texas, Sabata spots his former Lieutenant, Clyde (Reiner Schöne) who owes him a long-outstanding debt of five thousand dollars. As luck would have it, Clyde also works at the local gambling house, giving Sabata an opportunity to win large sums of money through trickery...with Clyde agreeing to look the other way in exchange for lessening the debt owed.

    Indeed, this could be a new life of leisure for the man known as Sabata; winning at roulette with a magnetic cigar, having his way with the ladies, and catching the rays in beautiful, downtown Hobsonville. At least, it could have been if not for a number of people looking to disrupt his peaceful, crooked existence. There's Clyde, for instance, who doesn't believe that Sabata should gain from his crooked casino even if he's owed money, and sends his lackeys...who like like Clockwork Orange cast rejects and are adept in gymnastics and using their limbs as catapults...to pickpocket his winnings from him. Worse still is Irishman Joe McIntock (Giampiero Albertini), former miner turned Mayor of Hobsonville, who believes that everything should be heavily taxed in effort to build up the town to City status.

    With his livelihood on the line, Sabata decides that it's time to do some digging in the dirt surrounding McIntock, and what he finds isn't pleasant...and that's not even counting McIntock's Swiss Army sidearm, that includes brass knuckles, a revolver, and a stiletto all rolled into one. Enlisting the aid of Clyde's trampolining and catapulting henchmen and one of McIntock's own, a stogie-chomping sweaty beast of a man named Bronco (Ignazio Spalla), Sabata sets out to expose the swindle that McIntock is running with citizens of Hobsonville as the victims...and of course, help himself to a little of the loot for a job well done.

    Return of Sabata....well, hell. It's not a great film. It probably doesn't even qualify as "good" to some. Its primary flaw is that it takes far too long to get going; almost an hour after the insane opening before we really get into it. But it's got two things going for it, and both of those things are well worth the price of admission. First up...Lee Van Cleef. It doesn't get much better than seeing the man return to the role, no offense to Yul Brynner. LVC chews the scenery up in this one with little effort, capitalizing on menace with a sense of humour, looking damn good doing it without resorting to fringey leather suits. If nothing else compels one to a viewing of Return of Sabata, certainly the appearance of one of the most iconic actors to ever grace the Spaghetti Western at least arouses curiousity.

    But what else is there outside of Mr. Van Cleef? you may ask? Well, performances across the board are decent throughout, and it's nice to see some of the original film's cast make it out, albeit in different roles. And the Western atmosphere is pretty fantastic here, looking less generic than we saw in the second film. But the big selling point, aside from Van Cleef's performance, is an absolutely batshit crazy zaniness that crops up continuously in the picture; a cross between a psychedelic Corman AIP flick, and the showdown in The Man With The Golden Gun. Off-kilter dubbing adds to the odd atmosphere as it fails to even come close for the most part. It's Spaghetti Western, certainly, but there's enough weird, from the opening sequence to a first time visit to the whorehouse, to the hidden trampolines scattered throughout the town to keep Return of Sabata entertaining from start to finish.


    Kino Lorber brings Return of Sabata to blu-ray in a 2.35:1 AVC-encoded transfer that looks decent considering the age, and a big step up from Adios, Sabata. Dirt and debris do occur occasionally, including a monstrous hair that finds itself at the top of the screen, and the blemishes that last for a scene or two are also present, but this is a natural looking transfer full of healthy grain and lots of detail. Some viewers will note that the top and bottom of the frame appear to glow at points during the presentation, but it's not too much of a distraction...black levels are adequate, and there are no compression artifacts to speak of.

    A DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English track carries the main audio, and it's perfectly serviceable. Occasionally tinny, it's obvious that this is not a new track, but dialogue is clearly consistent and sound effects balanced adequately. And hey, dig that wacky theme song. There are no subtitles available on this release.

    Extras on the disc include trailers for all three Sabata films, as well as a trailer for Barquero.

    The Final Word:

    Flawed as the film may be, it's awesome to see Lee Van Cleef finish out the series. The Kino Blu-Ray offers decent audio and video quality.

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