So once again we have survived.

Red Sun

Pretty much every day, somebody comes up to me and asks, “Vern, what in your opinion is the greatest badass ensemble cast of all time?” They expect me to go for a big cast like THE GREAT ESCAPE or THE DIRTY DOZEN. But I throw em a curve ball with the best possible answer: HELL IN THE PACIFIC. There are exactly two actors in the whole movie, and they’re Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune. That cannot be topped. The technology just doesn’t exist.

Here’s a cast that comes pretty close though: Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune and Alain Delon. I mean, that’s pretty fuckin good, right? You could argue whether or not Bronson + Delon > Marvin. But there’s other people in this movie, not just those three, and that lessens the impact. The minimalism of HELL IN THE PACIFIC is part of what makes it so great.

Red SunHowever, this one has something going for it: Charles Bronson is a cowboy. Toshiro Mifune is a samurai. In the same movie. I’ll pause now for you to go rent the movie.

Thanks for coming back. In case you haven’t watched it yet, I’ll explain. Bronson and Delon are pulling a train robbery. On one car of the train is a Japanese ambassador guarded by two samurai. That’s got nothing to do with the robbery but while they’re poking around, Delon notices a ceremonial samurai sword the ambassador is bringing as a gift. So he takes it, and shoots one of the samurai that comes after it. Then him and some guys pull a doublecross on Bronson and take off with the boodle.

Things are changing in Japan, the age of the samurai is wrapping up, and this trip was gonna be Mifune’s last mission. So now he’s given 7 days to get the sword back and if he fails, he’s gonna disembowel himself. Bronson of course is gonna go after the gold Delon stole, so, as much as Bronson doesn’t like it, Mifune goes with him.

So it’s really a buddy movie, the bandit and the samurai who hate each other but are forced together, eventually bond and are willing to make sacrifices for each other. There’s even a joke I’m pretty sure they lifted for RUSH HOUR, where Bronson keeps talking shit to Mifune’s face before he finds out that he speaks English.

So no, this is not related to RED DAWN or communism. It’s red sun because of the japanese flag is a red circle or sun. What I’m saying is, Mifune comes from Japan. That is why he is a samurai. Since he’s a samurai, there’s some sword on gun confrontations. Bronson is able to keep Mifune at bay by pointing a gun at him. But when people are shooting at a samurai, a sword is gonna have to do. And Mifune shows that he can pull it off sometimes. I would like to see this explored in more detail but I’m not sure when it will come up again.

One complaint, I wish they coulda worked a shark into this somehow. I guess that is an unfair criticism really. But it woulda been cool.

Anyway, we’re not talking Leone level of quality here (although I bet a remastered and letterboxed version would be more impressive than the versions available now). But it’s a good gimmick. If you like spaghetti westerns, samurai movies, Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune, it’s obviously worth watching. If you dislike those things, I don’t know what to tell you. I think Kramer vs. Kramer is on cable right now.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 25th, 2005 at 9:36 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Western. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

30 Responses to “Red Sun”

  1. Bronson, Mifune AND Delon in the same movie!? Directed by Terence Young?! Why haven´t I heard of this movie before?! I bought this extremely cheap and watched it this morning, and guess what? Pretty fuckin´good in my book. Sure it´s a buddy movie where Mifune and Bronson have different ideas how to approach shit. But it´s not played for laugh, thankfully. But pretty straightfaced. The action is pretty good too and the final battle in a suger field of some sorts ( whatever) where they have to fence of comanches is memorable.Good performances from them too.

    I think there has been too much talk about comic book heroes on this site lately, that I feel we start to forget who the REAL heroes are. Bad ass human beings who actually have existed on this planet. Bronson,Mifune and Delon should be talked about a LOT more. I´m sorry to bring it to you guys, but Spider-Man does not exist, nor does Green Arrow/Lantern/Pumpkin/whatever…they will never go away either ironically. Because they live on through pages of paper. But these guys are dead. There will never be a NEXT Charles Bronson. Think about that.

  2. It’s a mystery to me too why you haven’t seen Red Sun. All three stars made cool movies in the late 60’s early 70’s, especially Bronson. You should check out the first collaboration between Delon and Bronson too; Farewell, Friend. It’s a tense, claustrophobic heist movie about two men breaking into the same bank at the same time.

  3. pegsman- Well, better late than never. Thanks for the tip. I´ll check it up. When it comes to Mifune I like him the most in YOJIMBO, not SEVEN SAMURAI. I like him better when he plays stoic characters. He was also cool in the miniseries SHOGUN.

    Of the early 70´s Bronson flicks; CHATOS LAND may be my favourite alongside THE MECHANIC and DEATH WISH. I really enjoy the setup in that one. Even though Bronson plays the lead character, we follow the posse that hunts him down, led by Jack Palance. When they enter his “land” the hunted becomes the hunter and picks them off one by one. Fantastic film. Real gritty and grim western.

  4. ..shit I almost forgot MR MAJESTYK.That movie blew me away…

  5. I just watched THE STONE KILLER the other day, the Michael Winner joint Bronson made between MECHANIC and DEATH WISH. It’s good shit, with some awesome shootouts and car chases and Bronson playing somewhat of a liberal-minded killing machine. He still blows away scum with extreme prejudice but he feels bad about the sociological factors that led to the necessity of all the killing. For students of action movie politics it’s an interesting take on the subject. It’s not on DVD, I don’t think, but it’s available on a few different streaming services. I thoroughly recommend it.

  6. Mr Majestyk – Believe it or not, but it´s actually available on dvd here in Sweden. I did not really care for it the first time, but that I´m having a Bronson-marathon this weekend , I might give it a try.

    Have you read BRONSON´S LOOSE- The making of the Death Wish series? A bit short book, I´m afraid. 130 pages, but highly recommended!

  7. Shoot – Alain Delon is still alive.

  8. Shit…kids say the darndest things,right?

  9. I would say it’s almost obligatory for movie fans to watch every single Bronson vehicle from Farewell, Friend (1968) to Death Hunt (1981). You really can’t go wrong with any of them. The period from Death Wish II (1982) to Death Wish V (1994) are entertaining as hell, but not even close to the golden era. His best ever is of course Mr Majestyk.

  10. But don´t forget THE DIRTY DOZEN, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN or ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Granted, the first three are ensamble movies, but in ONCE… he is Mr Awesome personified with the harmonica and shit. Leone really knew how to make his protagonists look cool.

  11. Once Upon a Time in the West came after Farewell, Friend so I counted that one. But sure, all the ensemble movies are great too.

  12. I found his role in THE GREAT ESCAPE surprisingly progressive too, because how many movies from that era can you name that dealt with someone having claustrophobia?

  13. His performance in THE GREAT ESCAPE is one the most memorable from that damn fine film!

  14. ^Claustrophobia Bronson really suffered from because he worked in a coal mine as a child!! Also, he met future wife Jill Ireland during filming, because she was married to David McCallum at the time, and Bronson reportedly told him “I’m going to marry your wife”. Wow, that must have been awkward.

  15. Yeah, but what are you going to do about it? He’s Bronson. When Bronson says he’s going to marry your wife, you just go ahead and save the date.

  16. Yeah,I would not want to get in the way between Bronson and his future wife. I might catch a bad case of “Bronsonitus” which as we all know is the medical term of being capped

  17. Charles Bronson will film himself sexing every one of your female relatives, and it will be the most beautiful movie you’ve ever seen.

  18. Machete films himself making out with your wife and daughter. But after all he IS the mexican Charles Bronson.

  19. The saddest stories about the early Bronson (I hesitate to use the term “young” because he was 42 when he made The Great Escape) is that he didn’t always see what was the best moves for his own career. That insecurity depraved us of Bronson as The Man With No Name in A Fistful of Dollars, colonel Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More and Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Later he could’ve played Pasquinel in the TV show Centennial, the lead in Winner’s Firepower, Snake Plissken in Escape From New York and weirdest of all Superman in Donner’s 1978 adaption.

    If anyone know where I can get hold of the movie You Can’t Win ‘Em All, please let me know. It’s the only Bronson movie I don’t have in my collection and it’s sorely missed.

  20. And another thing, no one has ever been able to pull of a decent parody of Bronson, because he was just too cool!

  21. Vern also forgot to mention in his review that Ursula Andress is in Red Sun, and she’s topless in a few scenes. I don’t know why he didn’t mention this, but you’d have to be really tired or world weary not to notice a thing like that. Did I mention that she’s topless? That’s Ursula Andress, not Bronson or Delon or Mifune, but Ursula Andress! I like Ursula Andress (before she became a fascist, that is)! Of all female western characters I think this is one of the sexiest. After Raquel Welch as Hannie Caulder, that is.

  22. yeah but pegsman, I think it’s a very, very brief scene

  23. It’s not that brief.

  24. yeah, but she’s totally naked in a movie called The Sensuous Nurse, including bush (and the carpet does not match the drapes)

  25. pegsman – but if he did not turn down all those awesome roles, it would be to much awesomeness for the world to handle. The entire population on earth can only handle so much Bronson. And all those roles did land to other bad ass individuals to balance it out.

    But I´d love to have seen him as Superman…

    I myself,is missing quite a lot of Bronson in jmy collection. HARD TIMES,FAMILY OF COPS,FAREWELL FRIEND. I did get a hold of COLD SWEAT, its in the mail and I expect having it in a few days.

  26. There was one called SLAVE OF THE CANNIBAL GOD. Didn’t think Andress nudity was rare. Maybe I took it for granted?

  27. I have to apoligize for my comment about Andress’ political views. I was confusing her with Brigitte Bardot for a moment there. As for her nudity, maybe I just haven’t seen that many movies with her.

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