Sergio Corbucci, "the other Sergio," has been regarded as the second-best spaghetti-western director -- a distant second to be sure, after Sergio Leone.
With Django (1966) he had a greatly influential example of the genre. But by the early 1970s the craze for Eurowesterns was over, & directors not ready to let go became rather desparate to regain audiences, frequently resorting to slapstick comedy.
Corbucci scraped the bottom of the barrel with Shoot First...Ask Questions Later, also distributed as Samurai, though its original title as a play on The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly (Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo, 1966), & should've translated The White, the Yellow, & the Black (Il Bianco, il Giallo, il Nero; aka, El Blanco, el Amarillo, y el Negro, 1975).
The heyday of the spaghetti western was over & this one sure as hell wasn't going to resurrect the form.
The uncut widescreen version is only available in Italian would be fine if it had subtitles, but it doesn't. It's more widely available with horrendous dubbing, a shortened version plus it has the sides cropped & a terrible transfer to boot.
Trufans of spaghetti westerns tend to get used to such bad copies of all sorts of lesser examples of the form, few having been carefully preserved.
Samurai (or by whichever title) starts off with a gloriously tacky theme song. The music by Guido & Maurizio de Angelis is the film's one great asset.
The vocal sounds like it could be an actual western singer, but the lyrics are performed by Guido & Maurizio under their joint nom-de-plume Dilly Dilly.
They do two songs in addition to the musical soundtrack, & the music's as silly as their nom-de-plume, which is what the even sillier story calls for.
Though the soundtrack is delightfully goofy, it's insufficient to save this lousy attempt at a comedy western.
Eli Wallach is the henpecked Sheriff Edward "Black Jack" Gideon. Right away Black Jack gets robbed by a clever, witty dandy-thief Blanc de Blanc (Giuliano Gemma).
The thief quickly hops a train & breaks into a car which contains a miniature pony which is being transported by a samurai in a cartoonish suit of armor, & his fool of a servant Sakara (Tomas Milian), the servant always addressing the pony as "your highness."
Indians who turn out to be army deserters in disguise waylay the train, kill the samurai, & steal the cute little pony as their hostage.
The samurai's cowardly inept fool of a servant takes up his master's sword, & goes after the fake Indians, pretending to be himself a samurai. He soon encounters Black Jack & Blanc de Blanc.
The threesome ultimately join forces against the army deserters, Sakara remaining true to his purpose, the other two double-dealing at every turn.
In rough outline, it doesn't sound too bad. But the story is treated strictly as slapstick, without often managing to earn any laughs.
Unlike other Corbucci westerns, it's not all that violent, & the action scenes are likewise played for laughs.
The worst element is the fraud-samurai. He's played by a white guy who is wearing "gook" make-up & acting like a complete retard, while his voice has been dubbed to sound like a maximumly racist Chinese stereotype, which unfortunately pretty much fits the character.
If you loved Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menace (1999), then you might adore Sakura. If on the other hand you have even a teency bit of sensitivity about racist stereotypes, you'll wince at every scene this moronic comedian is in.
Corbucci is usually noted for plenty of violence in his kitschy westerns. But this one falls on its face going for hyuks & nothing more.
For anyone who likes spaghetti westerns for the element of the ridiculous, & also rather thinks racism is a hoot, this example is the best. For me, the rancid stench is going to put me off watching old sphagetti westerns for months.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl