I wonder if this film doesn't have pretensions to art. Maybe not, but it's evident that someone went to the trouble of thinking up some novel variations on the usual conventions.We've seen a number of movies before -- the posse or the revenge party pursuing somebody across harsh terrain -- \"Tell Them Willie Boy is Here,\" \"Three Godfathers\", \"Chato's Land,\" and so on -- but this is the only one I can think of offhand in which each party -- pursued and pursuer -- changes its attitude towards the other.About two dozen cowboy roughnecks led by Oliver Reed and including the bad L. Q. Jones and the good Mitchell Ryan kidnap the bride of the wealthy Western entrepreneur and big game hunter, Gene Hackman. Hackman hears about this while on a train, after banging a Chinese hooker, and, man, is he mad. He fantasizes the gang will rape Bergan repeatedly, impregnate her, and then sell her back as damaged goods. So he forms a posse of half a dozen friends, arms them with telescopic rifles that will outshoot any existing rifle by twice the range.Nothing much new there, except that instead of an outraged groom, Hackman has revealed himself as a stark materialist and a rather rough lover. But then Hackman's group gradually find themselves within range of the kidnappers after a long chase through some extremely picturesque mountains, badlands, and desert scrub. The kidnappers have no idea anything is up until a couple of them get shot by rifles too far away to see.Here's where somebody put some thought into the script. Ordinarily, in an ordinary Western, the convention is that when you are shot, you die. They may shoot your horse instead, but then the horse gets up with an irritated look and trots off unharmed. If you are only wounded, you get away and, if you're a good guy, you recover the use of your gun hand.Not here. A wound is intensely painful and your buddy can't always pluck out the offending bullet, no matter how much mescal you drink or how hard the praying Padre holds your arms down. If they're mortally wounded the victims just don't flop down and lie there. They twitch a little before they kick off. The horses don't get up if they're hit, although they're definitely horse de combat. (Apologies. The voices make me do it.) They jerk their heads and legs and whinny. The first kidnapper to get shot has his head blown off while taking a dump.Hackman treats all this as a hunting party. And one or two of his posse smile as they take pot shots, especially G. D. Spradlin. What they don't know is that Bergman has been scared out of her wits after the kidnapping but when she seeks comfort in the arms of the stolid Oliver Reed, he roughly rapes her. Then she falls in love with him. (I said it was artistically ambitious, not that it was politically correct.) The others in Hackman's party realize what's happening and leave. \"It's not worth it,\" shouts Simon Oakland, the least likely cowboy you're ever likely to see, but he's right. Nevertheless, all the gang die except Reed who, along with Bergman, is reduced to trekking through the vastness of the desert, horseless, until they collapse. Their hopes in ruins, they murmur about plum trees and grapes in California, until the shimmering image of an equally horseless Hackman appears. He shoots both of them dead and collapses to wait for death.Hackman is always fine, either as bad guy or good guy. Oliver Reed, with his hoarse mutter and eternal scowl, is hard to place. Candace Bergen isn't given much opportunity to act. She looks (1) wary, (2) distressed, or under stress, as when being raped, (3) shocked and surprised. You can tell because her mouth opens and she screams, \"Oh, oh, oh!\" She's so staggeringly beautiful that it hardly matters. Her long loose blond hair is always immaculately brushed and lustrous. What would happen to your hair and mine under those circumstances does not happen to hers. As an actress, she labors under the same disadvantage as some other actresses -- like Kathleen Ross and Jane Fonda. She sounds like she just graduated from some classy school like Sarah Lawrence.There's a misplaced semi-comic incident involving canned peaches that the musical score, a sprightly banjo, tells us is supposed to be funny, but it's not.There may be an occasional wince while watching this but it's not a bad film. It's at least interesting all the way through.
The game's biggest enemy is its own title, as it's neither a good representation of hunting nor a party game due to it only allowing a single player at a time. It's being marketed as a game to play with the family, but small children will probably not be fans of being encouraged to shoot as many animals willy-nilly as possible.
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