Triggerman is a straight-to-DVD release that suffers from terminal mis-marketing. The film features cover art and a back cover synopsis that attempt to sell the movie as an action-packed western consisting of equal parts gunplay and grit. In reality, the movie is a leisurely paced western tailor-made for retirees to nap along to on rainy Saturday afternoons.
A spaghetti western, Triggerman is an Italian production filmed in New Mexico. The movie stars seasoned (if slightly over-the-hill) western movie star Terrence Hill as Doc West. Hill previously starred as West in Doc West, an Italian television mini-series that was edited down to an hour and a half movie for the US home video market. It’s not immediately clear whether or not Triggerman was also edited down from a longer form.
The film, about a retired gunslinger-turned-doctor’s attempts to host a poker tournament in order to raise money for a hospital, tells a complete story with no major continuity gaps discernible. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the slow-paced film having any more fluff than it already does.
To those unfamiliar with Terence Hill’s acting repertoire, imagine Christopher Lambert in a cowboy hat. Hill’s Doc West is a twinkly-eyed, stubble-faced softy who leaps at the chance to help a small town in its quest to build a hospital. To raise the money, West and the town’s sheriff, played by Paul Sorvino, decide to put together a high-stakes poker tournament, one Doc West is sure to win, as he’s not only a medical expert and an uncannily accurate quick gun, he’s the world’s best poker player.
In a scene that’s reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead, the small town in need of a hospital quickly becomes a beacon light to some of the nastiest, most ill tempered ruffians in the west. They make their way to town in order to participate in the tournament, all bringing with them a back-story that somehow ties back to Doc West.
Among the new visitors to town is the movie’s titular Triggerman, a Dutch hooligan with a quick temper and a hot on for vengeance towards Doc West for previously besting him in a poker tournament. The film’s villain is the type of coward that will shoot a man in the back or kidnap a woman to ensure Doc West is too distracted to win a game — not exactly Hans Gruber. In fact, don’t expect many shoot-outs or acts of daring-do in Triggerman, though. The film’s idea of high stakes is scene after scene of poker playing — all the games relying on that same tired paused reveal of a player’s hands that every bad poker movie relies on.
Instead of delivering any of the action the film’s DVD box art promises, the movie is filled with unnecessary sub-plots — from a young boy’s determination to become a gunslinger to two brother’s wooing of young women. Many of these sub-plots seem to be carryovers from the previous film, Doc West. None of them add anything of substance to Triggerman, though — they only lengthen the running time of a movie that wore out its welcome a long time previous.
Triggerman is not an engaging film. The movie, with its dull plot and bored-looking actors, will leave western fans pining for the days of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. Heck, most would even prefer to watch Paul Hogan in Lightening Jack. Triggerman is a sheep of a western movie — dim-witted and covered in dirty fluff — that tries to pass itself off as a wolf — full of the type of excitement and gritty realism that most of the successful modern westerns have embraced.
Even though the movie was filmed in New Mexico, directors Giulio Base and Terence Hill filled the movie with a lot of Italian actors, necessitating the dubbing of many of the movie’s lines. While, for the most part, this dubbing is not too distracting, it certainly doesn’t help to add to the film’s appeal either. In a movie that’s easy to mock, the dubbing of Italian actors’ lines is just fuel for the fire.
It’s hard to imagine that there’s an audience Triggerman will appeal to. Even hardcore fans of westerns would be advised to revisit some of their favorites instead of wasting the time on this new movie.
Triggerman is presented in a 1.78.1 widescreen ratio. The film features pretty spectacular production values — easily helping to distinguish it from the other low-budget westerns Lions Gate has has been releasing lately. Lush colors and a crisp image help give audiences something pretty to look at — as the movie offers little of anything else.
The movie’s soundtrack features 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. Good use of the various stereo channels help sell an ambiance during the movie’s frequent bar-set poker scenes. Plus, the movie features a weird Beatles-like theme song. This cheesy tune is almost a reason to watch the movie. Almost, but not quite.
Triggerman is not a movie you should even consider watching. From the false promises of the DVD box art to the dull plot and even duller performances, Triggerman is almost daring audiences to enjoy the movie. Instead of giving the film the satisfaction, I’d suggest doing something more productive with your time than watching this — like taking a good, long nap for example. Cause really, that’s what most audiences would end up doing anyway if they put the DVD into their player.
Lions Gate presents Triggerman. Directed by: Giulio Base and Terence Hill. Starring: Ornella Muti, Paul Sorvino, Terence Hill and Gianni Biasetti. Written by: Marcello Olivieri and Luca Biglione. Running time: 97 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on DVD: January 18, 2011.
Tags: Christopher Lambert, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Sam Raimi