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Man Pride Vengeance (Blu-ray Review)

Man-Pride-VengeanceIndependent U.S. distributors Blue Underground have revealed that they are planning to bring to Blu-ray Luigi Bazzoni’s western Man, Pride and Vengeance (1967), starring Franco Nero, Tina Aumont, Klaus Kinski, Guido Lollobrigida, and Karl Schönböck. The preliminary release date set by the distributors was March 24, 2015, but was then changed to May 26th, 2015.  So, now after two months of waiting its finally here.  Blue Underground continues to be one of the premiere American Blu-ray distributors committed to transferring many of the Franco Nero spaghetti westerns to high definition.  I believe this is one of the many non-Django lot that gets labeled as such for sales/promotional reasons and the fact it has Nero and its an Italian western.  But, I’m pretty certain this has nothing to do with those.

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Film 

The film tells the story of a Spanish soldier, who falls in love with a gypsy only to end up deserting the army and being chased into the border lands, where he joins the gypsy smugglers to rob money for a journey to America. But it turns out his love has a husband and is only using him again and again….

Here’s a collaboration of some folks who worked well together.  Franco Nero had credited many of this production crew with helping him get his start.  He had arrived on the scene with Django and then moved on to this film.  While this one seems to get lumped in with the Django movies, Nero plays a guy named Jose and doesn’t seem to really fit the Django mold.  Its worth noting that during this time, the popularity of Django was like Bruce Lee after Bruce Lee passed away.  A lot of imitators and a lot of taking the name Django and slapping it on things.  This is an instance I don’t feel is a Django film, but it has Nero in it, so why not?

The film does have its share of action, but this is primarily a love story and also one of deceit and set ups.  Most of it is much slower paced and focused on dialogue and romance.  Man Pride Vengeance is based on a French opera and novella of the same name, entitled Carmen by Prosper Merimee.  Its not exact to the detail of course, because things had to be altered to fit the setting of a western, but the ideas and themes still resound.

Franco Nero gives a solid performance here as he’s a softer and susceptible guy getting hooked around by this woman the whole time.  He’s given some decent fight scenes and moments to act like a badass at every corner though.  Nero even gets to duke it out fisticuffs with the great Klaus Kinski (How’d he get in this movie!), which should tickle horror and Werner Herzog geeks everywhere.  The real start and scenes stealer of the film is Celestine Galli-Marie as Carmen.  She’s vile and chews up most of the scenes she’s in.

Man Pride Vengeance is a slower, more dramatic tuned western than you might expect coming to see a film that has Franco Nero’s mug on the poster with a pistol and his name emblazened over the title.  It still features some cool stuff, but is one that manages to keep you hooked in seeing if deceit is going to happen and also trying to pick the brain of Carmen to see if there’s some grand master plan behind it all.  Its a decent film that at times is hard to keep attention to, but a solid escape into a spaghetti western with one of the era’s larger than life personalities in the starring role.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1o80p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  As much as I’ll talk about noise at the bottom, this doesn’t look rather impressive given the history of the film.  These Italian Westerns are being picked up by many independent distributors and their prints are usually pretty rough.  If you’ve seen one of these Blue Underground titles, you’ll know what to expect.  I recently reviewed Companeros, and that one was rough in a different way, this one looks a bit tinkered with or like its artificially trying to look to slick.  It ends up coming across as soft and features only an average level of detail.

Depth:  The image is rather on the flat side of things.  People and objects don’t so much look too free and movement doesn’t feel too loose.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty accurate.  Detail is pretty decent.  Clothing and hair that are black is hit and miss in terms of hiding detail.

Color Reproduction:  There is a solid palette of colors here on display.  They come across very naturally and feature a really good saturation as they balance themselves with one color never dominating.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are slightly warm and have a good consistency.  Close ups and static mid-range shots lend a good look to detail like stubble, facial blemishes , sweat beads, wrinkles and makeup.

Noise/Artifacts:  There is some grain, but plenty of noise to be found on this transfer.  Its very apparent at the beginning of the film, but its watchable in the sense your eyes will adjust to it.  There are also some specs, dirt and scratches minimally throughout.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Mono 2.0 DTS-HD MA, Italian Mono 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, English for Italian Version

Dynamics:  This track definitely sounds of its time.  Considering the whole film is dubbed, you get a very distinct vintage ADR sound.  The track has a couple peaks in the source and effects, voice and score doesn’t sound as separate and loose as one would like.  It also lacks in some very deep low frequency sounds.  If you’re not a novice on these and know what to expect from the original theatrical mix on these movies, then you should know the track does end up working out just fine for what it is.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are loud and focused, but do carry that “recorded elsewhere” feel of ADR from the 1960s.

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Extras 

Man Pride Vengeance’s reverse side of the cover features an additional promotional photo.

Audio Commentary

  • With Journalists C Courtney Joyner and Henry C Parke

Luigi, Vittorio & Franco: Interviews with Star Franco Nero and Camera Operator Vittorio Storaro (HD, 29:45) – Both of course discuss the movie, but they also talk about other projects they worked on and people they worked with.  For instance, Nero talks about having to strip at an audition for John Huston for The Bible and being stuck under contract with Warner Bros and missing out on some films being offered to him because of it.

International Trailer (HD, 3:42) 

Italian Trailer (HD, 3:44) 

Poster & Still Gallery – 42 images of posters, lobby cars, VHS cover artwork, DVD cover artwork and promotional photos.

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Summary 

Blue Underground takes another film of the Franco Nero spaghetti western canon and transfers it to Blu-ray.  The film its a bit of a slower one as it focuses itself on being more of a romantic drama than a bloody, fist pumping western.  The transfer on this one is a bit rough and the sound track is very vintage.  There’s a good couple extras here in the interviews and commentary which helps edge things over.  Fans probably will be happy enough its on Blu-ray and I’m guessing its still never looked this good.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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