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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Pistoleros
Pistoleros
TLA Releasing // Unrated // April 29, 2008
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Cameron McGaughy | posted May 5, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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"You directors never have a cent." - producer Camilla, to Martin

The Movie
A Chilean-born director raised in Denmark shooting a modern-day western set in Copenhagen, showing influences of a famed Tejano filmmaker? It sounds wacky, but it works. Shaky Gonzalez could very well be following in the footsteps of Robert Rodriguez, who epitomized the spirit of independent filmmaking with his 1992 breakaway hit, El Mariachi.

Like that film, Pistoleros has a spirit and energy that oozes out of every frame, going a long way in selling the material. It's got gun fights, a heist, double crosses, slo-mo punches, bullets frozen mid-trajectory and lots of flashbacks--all steeped in Old West atmosphere (I kinda dig the sepia tone-like shots, which show up a few times). In the present day framing device, director Martin joins producer Camilla in making a short film about the infamous Frank Lowies (Erik Holmey), a gangster who gets nabbed by the police after a heist gone wrong. There's a myth that he was able to hide 5 million in cash before his incarceration. And a tattoo he has--along with those on three other people--may be a treasure map to the stolen stash, which a lot of people are suddenly after.

A clue?

The filmmakers sit down in a bar with the shady Crazy Uffe (Dennis Haladyn), who begins to tell the tale of what happened--in part via a flashback of him telling the story to another criminal. The timeline is played with and the story jumps around, and it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is certain, especially when a man named Krelle (Thure Lindhardt) shows up to provide the filmmakers with more story. Who's lying? Is there really any hidden money, or is it just an urban legend?

The aptly named Sonny

A large cast of suspicious characters are along for the ride: Frank's sons Sonny (Daniell Edwards) and Brian (Dennis Riedel); Frank's brother Kurt (Mike Andersen) and niece Tina (Sofie Lassen-Kahlke); Ramirez (Hector Vega Mauricio), one of the gangsters looking for the loot; Tuki (Salah El Koussa), a weapons dealer; and English stripper Michelle (Claire Ross-Brown), whose tattoo may hold the key. But it's Shameer (Mustafa Ali) who is the shadiest of them all, and the most dangerous--especially with his trigger happy brother Pucha (Sami Darr) in tow.

Ramirez is smokin!

Considering the low budget here, it's impressive what the filmmakers were able to create. This is a fun ride that Gonzalez (also the writer) handles, showing a clear love for the genre. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but it's more than enough to keep your interest through the end. Equal doses of action, violence and humor abound, and most of the time it works: love the fork in the neck, as well as Frank's line when his cronies hesitate with the safecracking: "Are you going to blow the safe or fuck it first?"

Things slow down a tad in the middle before picking up, and I found a plot point with Tina wasn't nearly as funny as it was intended to be. Holmey does a solid job as the big boss man, but it's the charismatic Edwards who injects the film with real energy. Throw in a great title sequence and a mood-enhancing soundtrack, and this low-budget labor of love shows promise of a director on the rise. And about that ending? Just make sure you watch the credits...

The DVD

Video:
This effort arrives in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer, and there's a heck of a lot of grain to be found. It sort of goes with the low-budget western vibe, but is still quite noticeable at times--enough to be slightly distracting. Some scenes also have over-saturated colors.

Audio:
The Dolby 5.1 track is mostly apparent when the guns get to work, providing a nice effect. Other than that, a lot of the sound seems relegated to the front. There are optional English subtitles for the Danish track, although it's a tad annoying that the English dialogue still has them on the screen.

Extras:
Nothing of note: just a still gallery and trailers for four other TLA releases.

Final Thoughts:
A Danish film that channels the independent spirit of Robert Rodriguez, this modern day western from writer/director Shaky Gonzalez doesn't break any new ground, but it's a true low-budget labor of love with lots of mindless fun. For me, this hovers in the high "Rent It" zone, and is close enough to come Recommended.

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