Young Guns (1988)

Written by John Fusco
Directed by Christopher Cain
Starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemaszko


Released by: Artisan.
Rating: R
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Rent it.

Welcome to Lincoln County. It's 1878 and things are about to get dicey. John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) is a ranchowner who's having difficulties with the local group of ruffians, the Santa Fe Ring. He's got a few armed, young hooligans on staff to help keep the peace in his patch--and the latest addition happens to be Billy the Kid (Estevez). However, Tunstall has severely underestimated his enemies--and gets perforated. Billy and his other "Regulators" take to the hills, get deputized and work towards bringing down the Ring. And many firearms were discharged, and much blood ran in the streets. And Bon Jovi sang.

Well, you know for a brat pack western from the late 80s, as long as you can overlook the really bad rock musical score, you might just enjoy yourself. The six guys who make up our titular characters are all well chosen: Estevez as the "is he crazy?" Billy the Kid; Sutherland as the poet who gets sucked up in the maelstrom; Sheen as the guy who's in charge--no, really. And when you've got Stamp and Jack Palance in the cast, you can't go too far off. And luckily, they don't. The film is a decent western with modern sensibilities, and it gave us the immortal line, "Hey Dog, did you see the size of that chicken?" Given that it doesn't take itself completely seriously, we won't either.

And while this isn't the most special edition around, it'll do. For starters, the commentary track features the three of the six main actors who aren't as high profile as their comrades. But who cares? If you like the film, you'll probably enjoy the cutting up that goes on between the three of them. Rather than go on about what a great time they had, and only that, and wind up boring you to tears, they're constantly ribbing each other for "finding that lens" to maximize screen time and also discussing the finer points of cinematic tobacco usage. So it's good for a laugh or two.

The documentary on the real Billy the Kid is basically what you'd expect when you snagged three historians and filmed them telling the story, then edited them together with some narration over stills. Hey, it's not the Biography Channel, but you could do a lot worse. They get points for the effort, and it does provide good information for the viewer as to where Fusco strayed from the original story--but it's not anything truly exceptional.

Also of note is the subtitled trivia track. As I've stated more than once, the subtitled trivia track is something that I've longed for more of ever since seeing my first one on The Abyss. However, this track isn't anything special. It doesn't have the technical details of Abyss (understandable), nor does it really add anything to the viewing of the film. It doesn't exactly underwhelm, but it barely manages to whelm at all, if you know what I mean.

A hardcore fan of this film or a western genre completist will want to snag this thing, since it's probably the best DVD version of this we're going to have at least until the next medium change. Everyone else will want to rent it.

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