I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Django Strikes Again

“Hey shithead. What’s the big idea, bringing this coffin here?”

So there are around 30 spaghetti westerns (and one Tarantino movie) that use the name “Django,” but none of them are official sequels except 1987’s DJANGO 2: IL GRANDE RITORNO, aka DJANGO STRIKE AGAIN or DJANGO RIDES AGAIN or D2ANGO. Franco Nero returns as Django. Sergio Corbucci was supposed to return as director, but backed out and just got a story credit. The director is Nello Rossati, who doesn’t seem to be a big name director but did direct a movie called DON’T TOUCH THE CHILDREN!

I guess for a short period before this there was sort of a spaghetti western revival in Italy, but this one seems more inspired by the vibe of the ’80s American action movies like RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II. What better time than 1987 to bring back the western character with by far the biggest gun? It’s even the same year that Jesse Ventura used that helicopter gun in PREDATOR. It was in the air.

This is a movie in favor of the old men. It opens with some old men who get laughed at, but they’re the only ones who remember the guy with the machine gun. Can’t even remember his name at first, but they figure that’s the guy they need to straighten things up around here.

Now we know for sure Django wasn’t the guy in all those unofficial sequels, because he has an alibi. After avenging his wife he went and joined a monastery, didn’t believe in violence – probly gave Rambo the idea for his part 3. But there’s some missing time there because at some point Django also fell in love and had a daughter, and the daughter has been kidnapped.

Once again the villains are some racist assholes, this time also very rich. The movie takes place next to a river, and this guy El Diablo (Christopher Connelly) comes by with a boat full of slaves. The weird thing is that almost none of the slaves appear to be African – I guess they couldn’t find too many black extras in Colombia, where they filmed this. The exception is his badass female bodyguard, who wears what appears to be a traditional African look and looks a little bit like Pam Grier when she was really young. This woman is totally sadistic and seems to get off on doing Diablo’s dirty deeds, but also is very jealous and recognizes when she’s being disrespected and wants to avenge that. A great sub-villain. Give that lady a promotion.

But her boss is a good villain too. He’s kinda prissy, and obsessed with collecting butterflies. I mean, how is a guy who’s been through everything Django has been through even supposed to comprehend that? You collect butterflies? Delicate little bug corpses? But Django uses it against the guy, forging a rare black butterfly to get to him.

El Diablo is a total sicko, but I guess so is everybody else around here. At one point there are Mexicans on the shore and he has his men throw a woman into the water for them. They fight over her like she’s a t-shirt shot into the crowd at a sporting event. Just shameful for everybody involved, in my opinion.

Django is captured and enslaved in a mine, where he becomes buddies with Donald Pleasance (I mean, why not? As long as he’s there) and then escapes by rolling down a hill inside a big metal vat.

Everybody thinks Django is dead, they’ve even seen his grave. Well, that’s ’cause he wasn’t fucking around in part 1, he really did do what he said he was gonna do and buried Django, which means his old life as a killer as well as his super fuckin awesome machine gun which was used for I’d say a good 95% of the huge amount of killings that he did. And is still in working condition when he digs it up.

Of course the gun made the action in the original DJANGO more crazy than most westerns, and this being ’87 it’s even crazier. He goes around in a funeral carriage, puts a grave full of dynamite on somebody’s doorstep, sneaks around taking out guards like a ninja, lets a little kid fire the gun at people, hangs a guy out a window and makes him smoke a stick of dynamite like a cigar, blows up a whole bunch of buildings, shoots guards out of towers…

In my opinion Django’s ’80s look is not as good as when he was younger. He looks much more muscular, which is okay, but the long hair is overdoing it. And the headband. He’s more like a generic muscleman in a RAMBO or COMMANDO rip-off and less the iconic old west reaper that started the legend.

Not a big deal though. It’s a bigger problem that the music and style lean more toward jungle-set ’80s b-action than spaghetti western. But it’s an interesting hybrid. I like that it exists. Not essential, but good to see once.


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 Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at 12:35 pm and is filed under Reviews, Western. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

11 Responses to “Django Strikes Again”

  1. Knox Harrington

    July 10th, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Would this be a good time to once again recommend you watch The Good, The Bad, The Weird?

  2. My sentiments exactly. Good to see once and glad that it’s around. That cover is hilarious, it almost looks like they just drew Nero’s face over a Stallone poster.

    I have never seen any of these unofficial Djangos (Djangoes?), what’s the best one?

  3. Also, the poster talks shit on “Young Guns!” Ha!

  4. The best DJANGO rip-off is VIVA DJANGO (or DJANGO PREPARE A COFFIN) but it’s not great. Its title song did inspire the Gnarls Barkley song CRAZY though.

  5. YOUNG GUNS II is way better anyway.

  6. The Original... Paul

    July 10th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Never seen this, maybe never will, but I have to say: they were still doing lepidoptrist-or-however-it’s-spelt villains in 1987? I guess I really am the only one who regards “In The Heat of the Night”‘s opening scene as a movie-killer.

  7. It was in DJANGO, PREPARE A COFFIN with Terence Hill, which I think is a lot better movie than it gets credit for, that they first had the idea of Django burying his machine gun at the cemetary between massacres. In DJANGO 2 he also gets a cool outfit (well, this is the 80’s…) at the cemetary, but it doesn’t look like he’s stashed it in the same coffin, so I guess he raids the church’s lost & found when we’re not looking. DJANGO KILLS…IF YOU LIVE SHOOT! is one of the earliest unofficial Django’s and the sickest of them all. It was never realesed in the version the director wanted, but the newest dvd contains so much gore and perversity that it’s more video nasty than spaghetti western.

  8. DJANGO KILLS…is one of my favourite westerns. Its soo damn weird! I love especially the part were the “hero” (?) shoots his nemesis with golden bullets and then when they operate on the guy discovers he got gold inside of him, instead of carefully remove the golden bullets with the proper surical care one would expect from a professional they all go like ” Oh shit! It´s gold!GOLD EVERYONE!” and then they rip the guy in pieces just to get the gold. Greed in the old west has never been better portrayed! And when the parrot gets his comeuppance at the end was also pretty funny.

  9. I want to love DJANGO KILL, but the mid-section is so boring it kills it for me. The Indian who got scalped until he was totally bald was hilarious though.

  10. There should probably be a better word for the genre than “spaghetti-westerns”, especially since a lot of them were european co-productions, mostly german/spanish/italian. Also a lot of the actors in the movies are non-italian, the locations they were shot varies a lot. Mostly shot in Spain, some in Croatia and some in Italy and some elsewhere. The point is the term “spaghetti-western” seems lika a derogatory description of the genre.

  11. Finding out that this compares well with my favorite RAMBO movie compels me to see it.

    SECOND FIRST BLOOD, as I’ve argued on this websight previously (for some reason on the FIST OF LEGEND thread during the original Countdown to EXPENDABLES), is severely underrated, so maybe DJANGO STRIKES AGAIN will “strike” the right chord with me and “spray comical amounts of large caliber bullets” into my affection for LETTERS TO JULIET as my favorite movie with Franco Nero in the cast.

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