After making an impressive performance in Death Kiss, Bronson-ploitation is alive and well with Robert Bronzi returning, this time with a good ol’ fashioned Western with a twist.
Swearengen is a notorious outlaw who has taken over a small town and has decided to cause trouble for the townsfolk. He has decided to kidnap local Abigale to make her a part of the oldest profession in the world. Abigale’s sister Ursula is extremely worried and is unsure how to be able to rescue her sister. However, she soon learns about a military-trained hero known as the Colonel. When she tracks him down, Ursula asks the Colonel of her troubles. When he refuses at first, Ursula drops a bomb on the Colonel.
The food Ursula gave the Colonel has a poison that will kill him in three days. In addition, Abigaile is the only one who has the anti-dote. The Colonel finds out he has no other choice but to help Ursula in her mission to rescue her sister. As the duo begins to head to town, they find Swarengen’s men on the horizon. As the plan commences, Usrula and the Colonel soon find themselves slowly bonding and as they approach the town, the Colonel is about ready to dispense justice and rescue Abigaile as well as make the town safe again.
There was Blaxploitation. There was Bruceploitation. Now comes “Bronson-ploitation”, the new trend thanks to director Rene Perez, a director who is known for his ultra low-budget but quality genre films and his discovery, Robert Kovacs, a Hungarian-born actor and stuntman who has a very striking resemblance to the legendary Charles Bronson. After wowing fans last year with Death Kiss, an homage to Bronson’s iconic Death Wish series, Perez and Bronzi bring in a good ol’ fashioned Western.
Like his character in Death Kiss, Bronzi’s character has no name. He is just simply The Colonel, a military-trained hero who is forced from his retirement to help a young woman rescue her sister. Bronzi once again emulates his idol as the quiet hero, who rarely speaks and when he does, his accent is heavily noticed but it is not a problem at all. In a small flashback sequence, Bronzi comes out of a teepee perhaps an homage to Bronson’s 1972 film Chato’s Land but it is a brief flashback sequence as our second protagonist Ursula tells the Colonel what she has heard about him.
Actress/model Karin Brauns does a good job as the Colonel’s eventual partner Ursula, who at first is forced to use devious methods to force our hero to join her in rescuing her partner. Brauns makes the most of her role and in a very shocking twist, doesn’t have to resort to playing a romantic interest as seen in most of these roles yet she does have that interest in the Colonel later in the film. As for the legendary Michael Paré, best known for his roles in 80’s hits Eddie and the Cruisers and Streets of Fire, he looks like he is enjoying his role as the villain Swarengen, who has taken over the small town and causes trouble for everyone.
In the mood of Westerns, the use of some amber filters and perhaps a bit darker lighting could have been more beneficial. The climactic battle does have its flaws, including the fact that one can tell the sets were built at a park because one can clearly see park benches. However, it doesn’t take away the film on an overall level. At a runtime of 84-minutes, the film runs pretty smoothly and even has a few twists and turns and becomes more proof that despite using ultra low budgets, Rene Perez can make some quality genre films.
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood continues the Rene Perez-founded theme of “Bronson-ploitation” with Robert Bronzi bringing a good ol’ fashioned Western with ample support from Karin Brauns and Michael Paré.
WFG RATING: B-
Uncork’d Entertainment presents a Millman Productions in association with Ron Lee Productions. Director: Rene Perez. Producers: Ronnie D. Lee and Jeff Miller. Writers: Rene Perez and Jeff Miller. Cinematography: Rene Perez. Editor: Rene Perez.
Cast: Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs, Michael Paré, Karin Brauns, Lauren Compton, Chris Matteis, Justin Hawkins, Tony Jackson, Jadzia Perez, Sierra Sherbundy, Woody Clendenen.