Buck and the Magic Bracelet (1999)

Buck, the Canadian wonderdog who was last seen in Buck At The Edge Of Heaven returns for a final, fantastical frontier odyssey of whip-wielding broads and black guys pretending to be Indians!

Buck is the canine guardian of a camp of gold miners headed up by Zeb (Bruno Minniti who teamed with director Tonino Ricci in such favorites as Days of Hell, Rage, and Thor the Conqueror) and his son with longish pansy hair, Kevin.

When the Whip Gang invades and kills everyone though, Buck demonstrates the wisdom of a thousand normal butt-sniffing dogs by allowing himself to be caught and hauled off to be used for some dog fighting back in town!

Obviously, this would allow time to come up with a solid revenge scheme. A scheme that has Buck battling another dog while the guys in charge of the dog fights inexplicably brawl amongst themselves until the good guys appear and break it up!

That the magic bracelet hasn’t even played into any of this shows that this tag team effort from Ricci and American exploding car movie company PM Entertainment is nothing to lift your leg up and piss all over!

After the too-short slow motion massacre laid on the miner’s camp, trapper Natty and his sidekick, the faux-Indian medicine man Shanka, arrive to find that Kevin has somehow survived. There’s no trace of Zeb, though since he was shot twice and dumped in the river, things don’t look too good for him.

Natty patches up Kevin and they leave the camp to head back to town, but not before Shanka leaves a note for Zeb in case he gets better from his bullet wounds and hypothermia and returns to the camp.

Kevin wisely advises that Buck might come back as well, but how will he know what’s happening since he can’t read? Shanka immediately performs some Indian voodoo and announces that Buck can now read!

If you’re like me, you no doubt are now having visions of a bespectacled Buck poring over the sports section of the Winnepeg Sun checking out the latest CFL scores. Unfortunately, Shanka turns out to be the con man everyone says he is because at no time during the film does Buck show any interest in the written word!

It’s hard to feel sorry for Shanka then when a trapper threatens him for selling him some fake medicine and when he runs afoul of some real Indians who smear him with honey and menace him with a giant beehive!

And as is usually the case when a giant beehive makes its appearance in a movie, things finally begin to get borderline entertaining!

A bracelet that Shanka has given Kevin turns out to be all sorts of magic! Kevin throws a trinket from it and a giant smoke bomb goes off freeing Shanka from his honey-lathered deathtrap! But that’s just some opening act magic because right after that the freaking beehive starts floating in the air and going after the Indians!

The bracelet also enables Kevin and friends to find his father, transport people from place to place and to make them immaterial! It also turns a bad guy’s knife into a bunch of flowers! It’s magic AND wacky!

A magic bracelet is only as good as the plot it services though! And being that this is Buck’s, Ricci’s, and Minniti’s final film, all the stops are pulled out like the bullet dug out of Kevin by Natty with just a knife while Shanka pretends to faint!

The Whip Gang is lead by a Bible-toting woman who is supposedly the mother of the rest of the miscreants in the gang. As far as sadistic gangs go, they’re pretty good with Bobby Rhodes (Demons, War Bus Commando) as Goliath and Falcon Crest vet Abby Dalton as the deranged leader.

This isn’t some family friendly movie where the bad guys do prat falls either. They’re stabbing, shooting, and whipping hapless trappers when they aren’t setting each other on fire and chucking their own off a cliff!

But what about the Zeb? Proving that these arctic cowboys were as tough as the era’s dogs were smart, Zeb makes it back to town, recovers, is accused by the Mounties of killing everyone in the camp for the gold (despite showing them where the gold was and that he somehow would have had to kill about ten other guys while his kid and super dog watched), escapes, and goes after the Whip Gang himself!

That’s all pretty bad ass, but the less said about how he got boondoggled by the leader of the gang and had to be bailed out by the sharpshooting Natty, the better.

When the Whip Gang finally square off against Natty, Shanka, Kevin, Zeb, and Buck, it’s pure Italian movie mayhem at its best!

There’s the hoped-for showdown among two giants of unknown 1980s Italian movies, Rhodes and Minniti, that involves Minniti clubbing Rhodes with a giant log.

There’s Kevin’s magic bracelet causing all sorts of mischief including allowing him to punch a guy about a hundred feet in the air.

There’s also a very nice papier-mâché avalanche that surely necessitated the disclaimer at the beginning of the film regarding the safety of the animals involved in the film. The disclaimer was in Italian so I am just assuming that it said no horses suffered anything worse than bruised dignity when they were knocked over by some fake rocks.

As for the viewer, only a mild case of heartache will be experienced when the movie concludes with a group photo, what with this being so many great showbiz folks’ final work. Twenty-five years after Ricci contributed to Italy’s first wave of wilderness dog movies with White Fang To The Rescue, he puts an exclamation point on the genre by leaving a Buck-sized dump of a movie full of enchanted jewelry, minimal dog action, 19th century special effects and bad dubbing for all to savor!

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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