This film seems like a missed opportunity. It came out six years after the original and doesn’t feature any of the original cast except Yul Brynner, even though the three survivors of the original return. I didn’t recognize any of the cast besides Brynner, at least by name. One face might be familiar, but if so, it’s a long distant memory.
We start off in the same village that the original seven protected some time after the events of the first film. The Chico character from the first film stayed around the village after meeting a girl. So he’s going about his day like everyone else in the village when a large group of men come in and take all the village men captive. Chico tries to fight back, but is knocked out and taken away. So his wife heads out to find Brynner’s character, Chris, hoping he will help out. In the meantime, Vin, who was Steve McQueen’s character in the first, but now played by Robert Fuller, meets up with Brynner’s Chris and they have a bit of a reunion over a bull-fight.
I will park on the bull-fight for a second. The thing starts with some guy wandering around backstage, waiting for his chance to charge out into the ring and fight the bull. The guy kind of looks like Chico, so it’s a bit confusing. Anyway, the guy makes his way around the ring and jumps out to bull-fight. He ends up killing the bull with a sword as was the custom. The problem is they don’t even show the bull carcass from that point forward. The guy is in the ring by himself with the crowd cheering and no bull to be found. That seems a bit random to complain about, but it just struck me as odd. The frame was large enough; they didn’t even bother to cut things to just his face. The camera pulled back to show ring, crowd, and victor, but no bull.
Anyway, Chico’s wife talks to Chris and Vin and gets them on board with helping her village once again. Basically, this was a completely lazy redo of The Magnificent Seven. What I did find pretty interesting though, was that Larry Cohen wrote this. He would go on to write and or direct such B movie masterpieces as The Stuff, Maniac Cop, It’s Alive, and Q. That was pretty cool to see because I’ve enjoyed all of those. I’m not sure if copying the original was his idea or if he just ran with whatever someone else wanted.
However this came to be, we have Brynner’s character going around and gathering up a new batch of seven. He hits up the local jail and buys the freedom of a couple of guys and we run into another being chased by a jealous husband with a rifle. Our bull fighter ends up in the mix; if they can free Chico, we have seven again. But where should they start looking?
Turns out, the bandit group’s leader is trying to rebuild a village that was destroyed by some long-lost event. This guy is hellbent on making it a monument for his kids, even though they were cowardly and tried to have him killed. Apparently, they did something to make him proud in death, so he and his men were going around to gather up villagers to rebuild this place.
The seven find out where all this is going on and head over. Chris rides casually into the broken village while the remaining guys take up positions with rifles. Turns out Chris and the villain have met before. Brynner successfully gets Chico released and they go off to plan how to free the remaining villagers.
From here we get some battles. The good guys kick the bad guys out, build up fortifications, and the bad guys attack a few times. Eventually they call in reinforcements, but of course the good guys win. Some of the new seven even wind up dead, but their deaths are either glossed over or barely mentioned.
Have I told you how long this runs? One of my biggest complaints with The Magnificent Seven was how much got cut out to fit into a two-hour film. This is like thirty minutes shorter. So the character development is far worse, but I would say that the number of extras used was a lot higher. There’s a few scenes with a ton of horses and riders on the screen as if it was a truly epic battle. Only problem is, they must have only had the bunch for the afternoon because those scenes are few and far between.
I’m going to be generous and toss this one 3 stars. I have a feeling the next couple installments are going to be much, much worse.