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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Rio Diablo (1992)

"Revenge is a mighty cold supper, Benny. You never get enough to satisfy that pain you're feeling."
- Quentin Leech (Kenny Rogers)

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: September 11, 2003

Stars: Kenny Rogers, Travis Tritt, Naomi Judd, Bruce Greenwood, Laura (Elena) Harring
Other Stars: Stacy Keach, Michael G. Hagerty, Brion James, Luis Contreras, Casey Sander, Kelly Junkerman
Director: Rod Hardy

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for mild violence
Run Time: 01h:32m:17s
Release Date: July 22, 2003
UPC: 707729145035
Genre: western

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB-A- D-

DVD Review

Rio Diablo is a surprisingly gritty, tough made-for-tv western that features Kenny Rogers in his best performance since his impressive lead debuts in The Gambler and Coward of the County back in the 1980s. Directed with style and flair by Rod Hardy, Rogers stars as Quentin Leech, a mean ol' bounty hunter so hell bent on collecting human prey, he's not above such deceptive trickery as impersonating a man of the cloth. As he rides into the small Mexican town of Del Rio with his latest captures, a wedding is taking place in a nearby church between farm boy Benjamin Tabor (Travis Tritt) and local gal Maria (Laura Harring). But evil lurks at the bank down the street as the Walker Gang, headed by namesake brothers Jervis and Jake (Bruce Greenwood, Brion James), are winding up a robbery.

Wouldn't you know, the happy couple's post wedding carriage ride meets head on with the loot-carrying baddies and the resulting shoot out seems to knock off a third of the town (not a good day to be an extra, I'll tell ya). Maria and Benny manage to stay out of the line of fire, but the honeymoon may be put off as the Spanish beauty is taken hostage. Quickly organizing a search party, Benjamin's quest takes a dark turn when a friend discovers her veil down by the river. Seeking revenge, he rides off on his own.

Heat and stress prove too much on the trail as Benny collapses in the middle of nowhere, only to be stumbled upon by Leech, who doesn't exactly offer tea and sympathy in response to Benjamin's heartbreak. True to form, all Quentin cares about is profit as he urges farmer boy to either crawl under a rock or go home. Spurning his non-invitation, Tabor opts to tag along instigating an unlikely partnership that evolves significantly during an overnight stay at an brothel overseen by Flora Mae Pepper (Naomi Judd), an old friend of Quentin's. While there, a chance meeting between the men and Walker gang member Dyke Holland (Michael G. Hagerty) eventually leads to hints that Maria may still be alive. Once outside the (enforced) friendly confines of Flora Mae's establishment, showdown time approaches…but with an unexpected twist or two including a surprising revelation into Leech's past that clues Benjamin into why Quentin is so ruthless.

After experiencing Rogers' going-through-the-motions performances in two recently released Gambler movies, this change-of-pace role came off as a minor revelation. It takes a lot of guts to go against type and some can't convincingly, but the actor-singer pulls it off so well that it's disappointing when his character softens somewhat in the second half. Tritt is stiff in the initial going, but improves as the film goes along; Judd shows where baby daughter Ashley got her charm in a small but effective bit as a sprightly madam. Adding to the film's effectiveness is the sublime cinematography of David Connell, whose striking use of well-chosen Texas backdrops is of feature film caliber.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: If there's such a term as a schizophrenic transfer (and I don't think there is), such a description fits this presentation. At times, it looks cutting edge and smooth (scenes with darker settings and most of the Flora Mae sequences look really good); at others, somewhat soft and wanting in detail with odd-looking instances of matrix dot-type distractions (particularly in bright daylight sequences). In better news, the film's impressively rich colors are mostly on target with black levels following suit.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Most television movies tend to sound somewhat generic or flat. Not this puppy, little doggies. True, it's just a two-channel Dolby track and lacks rear backing, but every aural element from the dialogue to Larry Brown's excellent bottleneck-driven score (in appealing wide stereo) comes across extremely well. Another surprise came via the punchy wallop of the lower frequencies; your subwoofer and you will really feel it during the action sequences when the hammers of the rifles and guns fall.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Since this is an Artisan blue light special, you know the drill.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Despite a spotty presentation, country music fans wishing to see three of the industry's best in rare acting stints and those who love a good western should find Rio Diablo to their liking.


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