Hell’s Fury: Wanted Dead or Alive

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“There’s nothing like a good Western. And this is nothing like a good Western.”

Eryn Cates (Hague) returns home to Texas from finishing school in New York, to find her family farm teetering on the edge of foreclosure [maybe if they hadn’t spent all that money to send her to finishing school in New York…]. In a misguided attempt to help things, her brother tries to rob a stagecoach carrying payroll, but is injured. The attempt fails, but local mogul Mortimer (Harris), who holds the loan on the Cates farm, sees a chance and pockets the loot. Two Texas Rangers, including the young and handsome Flint (Hagenbuch) show up to investigate the robbery, but it’s up to Eryn to save the family property, take on the mantle of the bandit, fend off the unwanted advances of Mortimer and engage in pseudo-romantic banter of the least interesting or convincing sort with Flint.

It’s not very good, and the problems start right from the format: it was shot on low-definition video, which gives everything a harsh, modern look that really doesn’t suit the genre. Hague is equally unsuited for the role, and never succeeds in putting across any significant degree of emotion. And quite why there’s a kung-fu master in an early scene, I have no idea: he crops up once, and then is never seen again. It’s not as if Eryn exactly wields nunchakus against Mortimer’s minions. There are some cheap laughs to be had, not least the town dance where the band appear to play the same eight bars of The Streets of Laredo for six minutes straight, but most of this is just terribly pedestrian.

The DVD cover blurb claims, “The Quick and the Dead tips its cowboy hat to True Grit in this action packed Western gun battle.” Hmm. The tubes of the Internet deny any such phrase, though since Independent Film Quarterly [or “Quartly”, as the blurb has it] appears to be that endangered species, a print magazine, we can’t definitively claim fabrication here. What I can say with certainty, is that the apparent provider of the quote, Stuart Alson, has crafted a far greater work of fiction in that single sentence, than anything the writers here manage to conjure up in their 72, almost entirely tedious minutes.

Dir: Alan Chan
Star: Hannah Hague, Adam Hagenbuch, Ron E. Harris, Richard L. Olsen

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