Blu-ray Review: Chato’s Land [Special Edition] | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, January 16th, 2022  

Chato’s Land [Special Edition]

Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

Nov 29, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

A half-Apache homesteader named Chato (Charles Bronson) wanders into a saloon after venturing into town to purchase supplies. Literally seconds go by before racial slurs are hurled his way. When he speaks up for himself, the racist sheriff draws his gun to shoot Chato down—but Chato’s a fast draw, and kills the sheriff in self-defense. He flees the town on horseback, into the inhospitable, open territory that surrounds it.

In town, a former Confederate officer named Quincey (Jack Palance) rounds up a posse to chase the renegade Apache down. His posse expands to a full-grown lynch mob by the time they make it into the sparse grasslands, where Chato has no choice but to defend himself—using his knowledge of the land itself to gain an upper hand over the large group of angry men looking to kill him.

Made by British director Michael Winner just two years before his hit Death Wish, the revisionist Western Chato’s Land features some of the same ickiness found in his famous vigilante series starring Bronson. Like in Death Wish (and Death Wish II), the inciting incident in Bronson’s quest for revenge is a brutal gang rape. That probably should be expected—this is a Michael Winner joint, after all—but Chato’s Land deserves a trigger warning, in any case.

Bronson is barely featured in the movie’s first half, and when he is, he barely mutters a word. Instead, the movie follows Quincey’s posse as they argue amongst themselves over which route to take, whether or not they can trust their Mexican scout, and other matters. To be honest, almost all they do is argue, and it doesn’t help that there are so many of them—beyond recognizable faces like Palance, Kolchak’s Simon Oakland, and a few others, they start to blend together. When they stop fighting amongst themselves to pine poetically for the good ol’ days of the Confederacy, many viewers are going to start counting down the minutes until Bronson rains down his vengeance upon them.

Chato’s Land is light on plot, with long stretches where there’s very little action. On top of that, we’re stuck riding along with an incredibly hard-to-like crew. While Chato’s presence is felt throughout the movie, it’s more as a dangerous figure looming on the fringes rather than a fleshed-out character. While Bronson-heads will want to seek this one out, the actor’s talents are far better used elsewhere.

The picture quality on Kino Lorber’s new special edition Blu-ray looks quite nice, however, even though the filming quality is up and down. There are some great shots towards the movie’s end and many of the dramatic zooms, but the Spanish landscape filling in for the American west is largely dull and drab. Special features include a new full-length commentary by historians Howard S. Berger and Steve Mitchell, and an interview with screenwriter Gerald Wilson.



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