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: Mannaja aka A Man Called Blade (1977)  ( 35249 )
Arizona Colt
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"Clear the ground of their traitorous feet!"

« #45 : September 04, 2006, 10:36:28 PM »

Yes,its a great soundtrack and i can't think of anyone that could've bettered it for this particular movie,even Morricone.Its a shame we never heard more of this type of  folk scores in the sw's and its very apt that the female vocalist provides the right kind of Native American Indian (Buffy Saint-Marie?) flavoured vocal which helped provide some very powerful moments.
Anyway its better to have a musical score that gets the sort of reaction that some either totally love(or hate),than something totally bland and forgetable.
    About God Forgives..I Don't,i wouldn't hold your breath if i were you! :-\
This is the only time I've disagreed with you Banjo, I found GOD FORGIVES I DON"T to be one of the greats. Peacemaker, if you're expecting TRINITY style shenanigans you won't find it here. However Hill and Spencer alude to the TRINITY films in there performances but the movie is very serious throughout with Frank Wolff nearly stealing the show.

 Much better than ACE HIGH to me. Some find GFID to be tedious but I found the sequel at times to be slow but than again the sequel has Eli Wallach which no doubt adds to the enjoyment for those that worship the Leone movies.

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Don't you like music with your supper?

« #46 : May 25, 2007, 03:23:26 AM »

Leone Admirer's  review from his SW Virgins Guide:-

Mannaja: A Man Called Blade

Supposedly one of the last, if not the last, great Spaghetti Western Mannaja is an enjoyable, if flawed movie.
   Blade (Maurizo Merli) rides into a town seemingly owned completely by a man called Edward Mcgowan. Looking to stay in town, he is made to approach a man called Voller (John Steiner) who is Mcgowan's right hand man. Blade and Voller have a fight and Mannaja retreats to Mcgowans house to find he has a daughter. Blade demands that Mcgowan hire him before leaving to sleep the night through. The next day he discovers the town is being almost worked to death at Mcgowan's silver mine. Blade meets up with Mcgowan and again they fight. He retreats from town where he finds a group of chorus girls and one, Angela, he falls in love with.
       The film has a very heavy dream like atmosphere though out. This is due to the erratic editing, excellent framing, the use of over and undercranking the camera (which the director, Sergio Martino, admits was heavily influenced by Sam Peckinpah) and the heavy use of fog and soft light filters on the camera and smoke machines. The reason for the smoke was actually practical as well. The film was shot on what was supposedly at that time, the last intact Western town set in Italy and even that was falling to bits, so they had to use a smoke machine to hide the disrepair of the set.
     The opening heavily influences this when an (at this point in the story) unidentified man (Donal O'Brien) is being chased through some dark and smoky woods by an unseen man on a horse. His footsteps are exagerated, he seems to be running in slow motion and the horse's hoofbeat seems to take on the appearance of the strangers heart beat. Then the stranger has his hand chopped off by the unseen man who turns out to be Blade.  The film then launches into the song and titles.
    This stark and eye opening introduction is, in my opinion, the best section of the movie. All the different areas of sound, cinematography, acting, editing and direction all collide together to make a truly arresting introduction, something the rest of the film cannot replicate despite how hard it tries.
      Merli is excellent as Blade. He pulls off the cool persona of a troubled and revenge driven man very well, and when he recovers from a horrific torture seqeunce, we feel through the use of POV and Merli's pained expression, the hurt that the man is going through. It is sad that Merli died only five years after making this movie, during a game of Tennis.
     I thought Steiner was quite a good villain. He certainly had the looks to be one and I hated the character (In the way you're meant too.) He was quite menacing when he needed to be and you could believe that he was capable of the despicable acts that he does in this film.
     I also thought Brochard was very good as Angela who was the 'tart with the heart' that Blade fell in love with.
      The film does have some plot holes. A character who is murdered in the last third of the film is never mentioned again, Blade seemingly doesn't recognise his tormenter despite seeing his name emblazoned all over town. This doesn't really detract from the moviegoing experience but it would have been nice if more care had been put into these plot points.
      As noted before, direction by Martino is excellent and cinematography is excellent, sometimes with some very arresting and startling images and angles. Music is of an over all high standard, but a song about one of the characters being a Judas was quite dire to be honest.
       Blue Underground present this DVD completely restored from "Original Italian vault materials" The picture quality is of a general high quality. There are some damage marks and there is a very high abundance of grain at the begining of the film (which I don't find a real negative point) but generally the anamorphic scope print quality is pleasing. The mono is of a good quality and is presented in either original English or Italian. The DVD also contains, restored back into the print an "Infamous 'eyeball torture' scene"
     The DVD contains the 12 minute featurette A Man Called Sergio which is an interview with the director Sergio Martino. Here was get to learn some interesting tid bits about the production. Also found is an interesting poster and still gallery as well as a Sergio Martino Bio.
      This film marks the end of my four film experience with Blue Underground. I think its a shame they haven't produced any more Spaghetti DVD releases and, after the high quality of these four, I implore them to do more.  The film itself was enjoyable, it played the usual elements of the spaghetti genre whilst using a fresh new cinematic perspective. Again I recomend this film to all established Spaghetti fans and newcomers.

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Don't you like music with your supper?

« #47 : May 26, 2007, 06:47:15 AM »

Arizona Colts review:-

MANNAJA from 1977 is serviceable but is let down by an ending that feels a bit rushed. CALIFORNIA starring Guiliano Gemma from the same year has the same gloomy doom laden atmosphere and sense of dread is a much better picture. MANNAJA is good also but mostly because of its evil and despicable villain. There are also some decent characterizations along the way and a couple of good action scenes but it just doesn't seem like enough. The ending was the biggest letdown for me as I was expecting more. Still, for the price, it's worth picking up for the gothic horror style setting which recalls such films as GREAT SILENCE, DJANGO and the horror pictures of Mario Bava. Several scenes of violence and gore grab your attention and Maurizio Merlhi who was famous for his italian crime films makes a good western anti-hero who seems to have seen some of Tony Anthony's movies as inspiration for this character.

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« #48 : April 11, 2008, 06:35:47 PM »

This is the first Maurizio Merli movie I ever watched. Ever since he first came up to public notoriety I wondered why he was considered (by some) a very good actor. He doesn't know where to start playing, has not a "presence" or face memorable, has a diminutive figure. He was a poor man's Franco Nero, without any of his (small) charisma and handsomeness. The movie starts great, with that first manhunting scene and the card game. After that I was let down by watching the same landscapes used in Fidani, Batzella and co. movies. The opening scene  made me hope for more imaginative result. It goes through the motions, with that cave's darkness shooting (well, hatcheting) and there is nothing more.
The score. Well, the De Angelis bros had more chutzpah than inventiveness. I don't think (sorry, Banjo!) that those mediocre folksy songs marry well with the images. Still they are so ugly that, at least, they keep you awake. (for the amateurishness of the bros check the unmusical comment to the dancing scene: embarassing). So I give it 6\10.   

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« #49 : February 24, 2009, 04:34:14 PM »

An OK movie at the most IMO. Some scenes (the cave & final showdown) are clearly inspired on AFOD, but without a Morricone score I found them almost laughable. In any case, I have never been a fan of G&M de Angelis when it comes to scores for SWs.

The "acting" doesn't seem to be there in any of the actors and there is no "chemistry" between any of the characters. The "Western town" where the movie was made (forgot its name but I thnk t is in Italy) was showing everywhere signs of decay (same as the stagecoach) which seems to point that no SW had been filemd in that area for quite awhile. And the scenery does not look much like "the Spaghetti West" of the movies made in Almeria, Guadix, etc.

Still, I found the movie watchable.

5.5 out of 10

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« #50 : February 25, 2009, 01:19:57 PM »

Average SW with some good moments, but surely not enough to make it exciting. The directing is mostly unimaginative, especially when it comes to slo mo. Merli is quite good in the lead.

Actually this is a film many fans are fond of, but I have no clue why. Maybe the fog.

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