Return of Sabata (1971)

a.k.a. - È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta

Lee Van Cleef stars in this well directed but flat Spaghetti Western. USA R1 Sony/MGM DVD; from the Sabata Trilogy boxset.

The Film

An enigmatic start, somewhere between Mario Bava and The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), sees Sabata (Lee Van Cleef) seemingly relegated to the role of circus performer. He meets up with an old friend from the war (Reiner Schöne) and a wide mix of eccentric townsfolk, however, he soon falls foul of the town's Mayor (Giampiero Albertini) who has levvied a high sales tax on everything in the town. Mayor McIntock tries to buy off Sabata, but fails, and soon the anti-hero is digging deep into a consipiracy involving fake money and lots of gold, while the double-crossing Clyde has to choose which side to support.

After Yul Brynner's unexciting starring role in Adios, Sabata (1971), producer Alberto Grimaldi saw that Lee Van Cleef returned for this sequel, along with composer Marcello Giombini; while director Gianfranco Parolini returns again. The end-result is much closer to the original, but not as fun as either of the earlier films.

The overall plot is quite simple, corrupt town leaders trying to scam the townsfolk out of loads of money before heading on their way - Sabata and his partners have to work out just what is going on and save the day. The plot moves along at a slow pace for an action film, with a notable lack of shootouts, but it builds up to a decent climax. However the plot is let down by plenty of holes - Sabata's escape from an exploding mine ambush is never actually explained, and a random duel with see-saw flip guns has no link to the storyline at all - while Sabata's tricks in the original film can all be explained, the jumps in logic here are often annoying. Generally the plot doesn't gel; and while the previous Sabata films lacked great scripts, this entry is notably worse, and could certainly have used a trim down to 90 minutes.

Fortunately, the film looks and sounds great. Director Gianfranco Parolini, who directed the previous two entries uses a wonderful mixture of tracking shots, handheld shots, fast cuts, zooms and even angled shoots to convey an action packed feel. The film is almost entirely set in the town, but the sets look good, and there is plenty going on in the background. The stunt-work is very over-the-top and impressive to see. Composer Marcello Giombini returns from the first film, and his soundtrack is a bizarre mix of church organ, vocal requiem, Old-Western and contempory jazz that fits the film well. The church music and night-time sets, especially the candle lit interiors of the some of the houses give the film a neo-gothic vibe at time, but not as accomplished as the original.

Lee Van Cleef is the biggest name on the cast, gives a good performance as the black-clad anti-hero, remaining calm and unphased throughout, with plenty of knowing glances. Gianni Rizzo and Ignazio Spalla return for the third times in the series while Bruno Ukmar returns from the original film, with some more over-the-top stuntwork. Giampiero Albertini doesn't quite work as McIntock, he simply doesn't look as evil as the comic-book villains Sabata had faced in the previous pictures.

Some fantastic direction and a distinctive soundtrack, along with a good cast and production, cannot hide the rather dull script, and big drop in action from the previous two entries. Not a terrible film, but the first two Sabata films are much better, and for action packed Westerns, there are many superior entries.

In brief:

Anyone famous in it? Lee Van Cleef - Western star, made famous in Sergio Leone's For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Giampiero Albertini - police detective in Case of the Bloody Iris (1972)
Directed by anyone interesting? Gianfranco Parolini - Director of the other Sabata Trilogy films, and WW2 film Five into Hell (1969)
Any gore/violence? A little blood, average Western-style violence.
Any sex? No
Who is it for?
Action film and Spaghetti Western might should enjoy this, but watch the other Sabata films first.
Good soundtrack? A very strange mix of music gives the film a good backing.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio  - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour
The picture quality is fantastic with only a minimal layer of grain and occasion print damage.
Audio Original English mono - Dolby Digital - sounds great.
French dub track is also included.
Subtitles English and French.
Run TimeMain Feature: 1hr 45m 47s
Extras The disc features:
  • Trailers: MGM Westerns reel plus cinema trailers for: Glory, Major Dundee and The Professionals and DVD trailers for Silverado and Good the Bad and the Ugly  (12m 06s)
AvailabilityThis disc is only available as part of the Sabata Trilogy collection. Single disc release due from MGM/Fox on 22nd May (details unconfirmed at present).
Region Region 1 - NTSC
Other regions? Japanese, Italian and English R2 discs, none are much better, Japanese disc has original trailer.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is English language.



Return to main menu.

All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 17th February 2006.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

Please contact: