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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Quick and the Dead (Superbit) (1995)

Blind Boy: John Herod owns that house. He gets 50 cents of every dollar in this town.
The Lady: What's the town get?
Blind Boy: It gets to live.

- Jerry Swindall, Sharon Stone

Review By: Robert Edwards  
Published: September 17, 2003

Stars: Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman
Other Stars: Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio
Director: Sam Raimi

MPAA Rating: R for western violence
Run Time: 01h:44m:59s
Release Date: August 05, 2003
UPC: 043396012318
Genre: western

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Sam Raimi used to be one of the best known cult film directors, beloved by horror fans all over the world for his Evil Dead trilogy. With 2002's smash success Spider-Man, you can't exactly call him a "cult" director any more, although most Spider-Man fans would be hard-pressed to tell you his name. Over the course of his career, he's directed ten features, and while some of them have been clinkers at the box office, they are never less than interesting. 1995's The Quick and the Dead is Raimi's venture into the western genre.

The ironically-named western town of Redemption is ruled with an iron fist by John Herod (Gene Hackman), whose intelligence and sophistication are more than matched by his casual cruelty and fear-inducing sadism. It's time for the Quick Draw Competition, and the town is filled with willing participants, amongst them the boastful Ace (Lance Henriksen); The Kid (Leonardo diCaprio), Herod's son; Cort (Russell Crowe), formerly Herod's partner, now reformed, but forced by Herod to fight; and "The Lady" (Sharon Stone). The Lady (we do learn at one point that her name is Ellen) is beautiful and tough as nails, but unlike the others, the $123,000 grand prize isn't her sole reason for being in town. In flashbacks that represent her memories of the past, we catch glimpses of a small girl running during an attack, and slowly the pieces will come together as we learn her real motivation and the reason for her hatred of Herod.

I suspect that Raimi had a ball making this film. The script by Simon Moore is a lot of fun, and its tension and seriousness are leavened by the same sort of humor that worked so well in the Evil Dead films. The characters are extremely well delineated, each having his or her unique personality, especially in the case of Cort, who is trying to come to grips with the conflict between his newly-found religious beliefs and his concern that they may be just a façade hiding his true nature as a killer.

Raimi also plays with stereotypes from classic westerns, often as they were filtered through the classic "spaghetti" westerns of such directors as Sergio Leone. Indeed, "The Lady" is really a gender switched version of Clint Eastwood's "The Man With No Name" from Leone's classic western trilogy of A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And the other characters—the reformed gunslinger, the boastful (and fraudulent) sharpshooter, the overconfident young buck—would not be out of place in a hundred other westerns. But here these would-be clichés are kept consistently fresh and interesting .

And it's not just in the characters that Raimi borrows from Leone, he also borrows visually. In fact, the opening moments of the film, with its long shot of a rider in the distance soon punctuated by a closeup of a face, is almost certainly an homage to the opening of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Not that Raimi is stealing here—that accusation might be leveled at a lesser director, but like Leone, Raimi's visual style is quite dynamic, and his use of depth of field, subjective POV shots and unusual camera angles make it obvious that he is simply paying tribute to Leone.

Between the excellence of the script and the interesting characters, and the never-dull visuals (although the use of rapidly-cut zooming in on faces quickly outstays its welcome), this is one of Raimi's most enjoyable films.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The graininess in the opening "Tristar" logo is worrisome, but once the feature proper begins, the viewer is treated to a great transfer. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti's honeyed tones (much of the film was shot early in the morning or late afternoon) come through clearly and accurately, and there is a great deal of dynamism in the image, including lots of shadow detail. There is some slight graininess in a few of the darker scenes, and flesh tones do look a bit reddish in a couple of scenes, although this may be as a result of the lighting rather than a fault of the transfer. There are no compression artifacts to be seen (as one would hope for in a Superbit DVD), and the small amount of edge enhancement isn't distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: In keeping with the image, the audio on this disc is great—crystal clear, with a great dynamic range that gives the subwoofer a workout. If you have the choice, pick the DTS option over Dolby Digital, because it shows more clarity, especially in the upper end.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: In keeping with the other Superbit releases, there are no notable extras, other than the many subtitle options.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

This is one of Sam "Evil Dead" Raimi's most enjoyable films, with an interesting script, well-written characters, and an entertaining visual style. Add to that an almost flawless transfer with great sound, and you get a winning package. Highly recommended.


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