Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Unseen #61 Mannaja

Why Did I Buy It?: Mannaja AKA A Man Called Blade AKA Manna(tomahawk)a was bequeathed to me at the great Insomniac closing.

Why Haven’t I Watched It?: The Spaghetti Western is a funny genre. One where a blind watch can end up delivering stylistically ambitious, violently operatic action film or just as easily deliver something that makes you lose all lingering traces of your faith in humanity (Take Four For The Apocalypse which features the regrettably unforgettable sight of Michael J. Pollard getting his ass served. Literally.)

Given that the director Sergio “Chuckles” Martino is best known for such classy demure films as Mountain Of The Cannibal God, 2019: After The Fall Of New York and the immortal Torso and that the back cover of Blue Underground’s DVD boasts “including the famous eyeball torture scene” (not quite the draw you think it is guys) I thought I was safe in assuming that Mannaja was one of the latter.

But what can I say? The announcement for the new Django movie got me in the mood for a spaghetti western.

How Was It?: An unfortunately  large part of The Unseen has involved watching movies that are not as awesome as they look. A Man Called Blade is the welcome exception to the rule, a movie that is exactly as awesome as it looks. For all the hype about the violence Mannaja isn’t all that bad. It’s not exactly mellow, after all the film’s gimmick is that the hero prefers chopping off people’s hands with tomahawks to using a gun (something that yields mixed results). Sure it’s gory and somewhat sadistic but show me a Spaghetti Western that isn’t- 

...OK show me one that doesn’t star Terrence Hill that isn’t

There’s not much to set A Man Called Blade apart from the average Spaghetti Western. It’s just one of those movies that manages to embody the tropes of their genre with admirable efficiency. There are Great Danes, a hero who does his best impersonation of Franco Nero and a bad guy who does his best impersonation of Henry Fonda in Once Upon A Time In The West (and speaks in a Germanic accent because of course he does) a rich puritan who owns the town, cheerful whores, torture scenes, great quantities of mud, blood, fog and dust and a terrible terrible theme song which is not sung but droned. (Seriously you could find any drunk at closing time and have him croon Karaoke style to the lyrics of A Man Called Blade and they would sing it better then the person they actually got to sing the theme song. I guarantee it.) Basically you could show this to someone who has never seen a spaghetti western and afterwards they’d have a complete understanding of the subgenre.

Really you could do a lot worse for a hypothetical ambassador. The film has tighter  (not to mention more coherent) plotting then the average Spaghetti Western and Sergio Martino has a great sense of gothic atmosphere and a keen eye for action. Though the film like all Spaghetti Westerns revels in the grotesque it isn’t overwhelmed by it. A Man Called Blade is simply a fine example of its subgenre. 


So word on the street is that there's a certain script making its way around the interwebs. Not that I support the deplorable practice of Script trading. But if a faithful TTDS reader wants to send a certain PDF to I'd be very much obliged.

No comments: