The story goes (according to the two minute interview on the DVD) that Franco Nero and his good buddy Nello Rossati were in Columbia shooting Alien Terminator together when they decided they should do a sequel to his classic Spaghetti Western Django. This must have come as a surprise to Sergio Corbucci, who made the original and wasn’t invited to join in, but who am I to begrudge Franco the chance to cash in on the name of Django when every single other person in the Italian film industry had already done so years ago?
So how do you go about filming a spaghetti western in the jungles of Columbia? You don’t! I’m not sure who this leathery old guy straining to carry the machine gun is in this movie, but he sure isn’t the cool, stoic gunslinger that had his hands all mashed up at the end of Django.
Sure, he’s called Django (except for when he’s undercover as Brother Ignatius) and he’s played by the same guy who shot wounded people as they lay bleeding to death back in 1966, but this Django has somehow morphed into one of those jungle super heroes/avengers like Tarzan or Indio. You know the type – he runs around saving women and works with the church, all the while plotting to destroy the evil white guy who’s invariably behind all the local raping and pillaging.
Django talks a little more than he used to and just to show you how completely they botch things here, he even acquires a little moppet sidekick who gets him out of tough spots. That’s pretty suspect to be sure, but in one scene he even diagnoses a slave who’s been injured as having a broken ankle! Is he doing his residency at that monastery or what?
Christopher Connelly (Manhattan Baby) plays Orlowsky, a military man who has a little army chug up and down the river in their really snazzy steamship. He’s the kind of guy who is fond of dressing up in really ornate white uniforms with lots of gold braids and has a scantily clad black woman as his slave/mistress/whip-wielding overseer. He also has a really bitchin’ butterfly collection!
It’s the old “bad guy with a sissy hobby” routine and his collection is almost complete. All he needs is the rare (and probably mythical) mariposa something or other – it’s a really big black butterfly and somehow Ben Gunn (Donald Pleasence) was supposed to find it for him, but didn’t which is why he’s enslaved with the natives.
When he’s not sticking pins in bugs, Orlowsky is taking little kids prisoner to work at a brothel somewhere up the river. One of these little brats is Django’s daughter, so he understandably takes a leave of absence from the monastery to whup ass.
Django must be a bit rusty because he gets caught and enslaved, but then Ben helps him escape in a barrel. The next thing we see is Django digging up his own grave! All real Django fans know that’s where he keeps his machine gun !
Your gag reflex gets a workout when he starts talking to the machine gun, like he was Robert Duvall chatting up Tom Cruise’s stock car in Days Of Thunder. He is still sort of Django though, so he keeps the chit chat to a minimum and he goes off to shoot some people.
Then he picks up his junior partner (his sister was kidnapped or his family was killed or he won the essay contest or something), gets into his funeral carriage and starts cruising around the jungle looking for trouble.
The remainder of this very long movie (thanks for restoring the pointless 5 1/2 minute prologue – like this movie didn’t already move like a middle-aged monk lugging a machine gun around through the jungle) is generally Django wandering around, getting leads on where his daughter is.
There’s some very bad action scenes where Django does stuff like putting his little eight year old friend in charge of the machine gun while he scouts out the brothel. (“Uh, I’ll be back in about twenty minutes. If you hear me screaming and moaning, just ignore it.”)
Eventually Django gets recaptured and is sort of helped out by Orlowsky’s slave who is peeved that Orlowsky has taken a new woman. That’s a subplot that shows you what’s wrong with this movie.
By this point we’ve accepted the fact that this will not be a stylistic western that says anything about the wasteland of men’s souls, but why would you ever think anyone would care anything about Orlowsky or his private life? Isn’t it enough that we have to share his crappy butterfly hobby?
The last part of the movie is something straight out of Rambo or Missing In Action with Django blowing up the slave camp over and over and over. The highlight is watching Donald Pleasence pull a lit piece of dynamite out of his pants!
Django Strikes Again is the sort of dull and lazy effort where the extant of Django’s character development consists of him going from a curly hairdo as a monk to a grim slick-backed look complete with Steven Seagal-style ponytail when it’s finally time to lay some payback on the jungle.
A totally nauseating experience that normally could be written off as just another cheap rip-off of a superior film, but the participation of the original Django himself makes it all the more reprehensible. I hope that the scowl Franco wore throughout the film was because he realized what he was involved with, but it was probably just the smell from his clothes.
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