THE MERCENARY is my fifth Sergio Corbucci film, the fourth in the last week. It stars Franco Nero as Sergei Kowalski and Tony Musante as Paco Roman.
Kowalski, a mercenary for hire, takes a job from the Garcia brothers to safely see a load of silver into the United States. He then goes off to an armorer for weapons he will need, a machine gun for one.
Curley, a gambler/outlaw played by Jack Palance, sees the two brothers talking to Kowalski and intercepts them outside of town to find out what the job is to be, then kills them before heading for the mine.
When Kowalski arrives at the mine, everyone is dead, hung, and the mine is in the hands of revolutionaries lead by Paco Roman. The mine manager, before control was seized, managed to blow up the mine, sealing the silver off without more effort than they have the time. The army is about to attack.
Roman and Kowalski team up to defeat the army, using a makeshift tank, a car with the machine gun mounted in back and boxes of dynamite strapped to the fenders.
During the night, Kowalski slips out of camp, intent on getting as far away as possible, only to be captured by Curley and his gang, after the silver he’s supposed to be getting to the border. In the nick of time, Roman’s band arrives to save him, killing all the outlaws but Curley. Him they strip and force to walk back to town(I’m still scrubbing my brain trying to get the image of Palance’s naked behind out of my mind).
The two men strike a bargain on the spot. Kowalski will teach Roman how to run a revolution. The go on an extended bender of missions. “liberating” the Mexican army of money, guns, and horses to fuel the revolution. Along the way, they pick up a beautiful woman named Columba who joins up.
They stay one jump ahead of the Mexican army by hitting and running. When Paco gets real feelings of helping his people, he decides to stay and defend the newly liberated town. The two men part company, Kowalski knowing what’s about to happen.
Of course they hook up again, at double the previous price, then there’s a double cross when Roman and Columba marry, the army attacks, wiping out the band, Kowalski escaping in one direction, Paco and Columba in the other.
There’s a final showdown six months later with Curley, the two men are arrested and scheduled for a firing squad.
We won’t say anymore. This is a fun little western, showing Corbucci’s strengths and little touches, with Morricone doing the score. Superb as always.
It’s a good little film, similar in some respects to Companeros, which was a bit better. Still worth a look.