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Gunfight at Rio Bravo Review

February 4, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Gunfight At Rio Bravo Image Credit: Shout! Factory
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Gunfight at Rio Bravo Review  

Alexander Nevsky– Ivan Turchin
Olivier Gruner– Marshal Austin Carter
Joe Cornet– Sheriff Vernon Kelly
Mathias Hues– Ethan Crawley
Natalie Denise Sperl– Nora Miller
Kerry Goodwin– Jenny Gray
John Marrs– Captain Grady
Lee Dawson– Mayor Bowman
Robert Livingston– Deputy Walker

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Joe Cornet
Screenplay by Craig Hamann, based on a story by Alexander Nevsky and Craig Hamann

Distributed by Shout! Studios and Shout! Factory

Not Rated
Runtime– 89 minutes

Buy it here. The movie is also available on Digital and On Demand starting January 17th, 2023

Image Credit: Shout! Factory

Gunfight at Rio Bravo, directed by Joe Cornet and available on DVD, Digital, and Video On Demand starting January 17th, 2023, is a fairly decent low budget western. It also appears to be the start of a low budget western franchise, something that you don’t see every day. The movie moves swiftly, doesn’t waste time, and features some good action sequences. It probably could have used a few more action sequences, but maybe we’ll see more in the sequel (and it isn’t a spoiler to say that there will be a sequel).

Gunfight at Rio Bravo stars Alexander Nevsky as the mysterious Ivan Turchin, a Russian denizen of the East Texas 1873 town of Blind Chapel. When we first see Turchin he’s taking out two guys who try to rob him while riding into town from somewhere. We then see him basically hanging out in town, smoking thin cigars and watching over things. One day U.S. marshal Austin Carter (Olivier Gruner) rides into Blind Chapel with notorious outlaw gang leader Ethan Crowley (Mathias Hues). Turchin quickly befriends Carter and his deputy Walker (Robert Livingston) and he leads them to the town’s sheriff’s office. Carter talks with the town’s sheriff Vernon Kelly (the movie’s director Joe Cornet) and works out a deal to house Crawley in his jail cell while he and Walker get some rest before he takes Crawley to San Antonio. Sheriff Kelly agrees, but the town’s mayor Bowman (Lee Dawson) wants nothing to do with housing Crawley in town at all. Mayor Bowman knows that Crawley’s gang, the Hellhounds, will destroy the town if they find out that Crawley is being held there. But Sheriff Kelly controls the jail and tells Carter that he can hold Crawley in the town’s jail.

So Turchin takes Marshal Carter and Deputy Walker to the local eatery for some biscuits and gravy and beer, we meet Nora Miller (Natalie Denise Speri), who has some sort of relationship with Turchin, and Jenny Gray (Kerry Goodwin), who has the hots for Sheriff Kelly. We also learn a little bit about Marshal Carter and Turchin (Carter is from France and Turchin is indeed from Russia). Turchin, Carter, and Walker then head back to the sheriff’s office and are met by two Pinkerton agents. The Pinkerton agents claim that they’re in town to take Crawley to San Antonio. While Carter did request some help from the Pinkerton agency not that long ago, he’s very suspicious of these particular Pinkerton agents. Turchin is, too. After deciding not to hand Crawley over to the Pinkerton agents, a shootout ensues as the Pinkerton agents reveal themselves to be members of Crawley’s Hellhound gang. Deputy Walker is shot and gravely wounded, Marshal Carter is shot in the shoulder, and Turchin takes out the two fake Pinkerton agents.

Well, then. The Hellhounds know that Crawley is in Blind Chapel, and it will only be a matter of time before the bulk of the Hellhounds enter the town and kill every last person while rescuing their boss Crawley. How the heck are Turchin, Carter, and Kelly going to stop the Hellhounds? They’re clearly outnumbered, and will they be able to blunt the ruthlessness of the gang once it reaches the town?

The set up for the eventual Hellhound siege on Blind Chapel is generally well done. Once we see the actual Hellhound gang and its second-in-command Captain Grady (John Marrs) in action, we know that it’s going to be a hellacious fight. I mean, yes, the mysterious Turchin is presented as the ultimate badass, both in terms of what we see him do and when we hear his backstory (which is apparently based on a real life Russian who served on the Union side during the U.S. Civil War), but is Turchin badass enough to stop Grady and the Hellhounds? And can Carter and Kelly provide the kind of backup that Turchin will need?

The action sequences are grounded and dynamic, both in terms of the gun battles and the few hand-to-hand brawls that we get to see (the great Art Camacho was involved in putting a lot of that together). It’s a little weird that with two real deal martial artist action stars like Gruner and Hues in the movie that we don’t get much in the way of martial arts fight sequences, but then, I guess, since it is a western martial arts fighting doesn’t quite “fit in” with the genre. It’s still weird, though, when you start thinking about it.

The look of the movie is pretty spot on as the Blind Chapel town looks like a small western town out in the middle of nowhere. The structures in the town look like actual structures and it doesn’t look phony. It looks like a town that people might live in. The cinematography by Sam Wilkerson is also clean and quite beautiful at times. You don’t always see that in these low budget westerns.

Alexander Nevsky does a fantastic job as the mysterious badass Ivan Turchin. You’re not quite sure what to make of him when you first see him as you’re not given much information about Turchin. He’s just some guy in Blind Chapel that you don’t want to mess with. And when you find out who Turchin actually is you want to know more, both in terms of Nevsky’s on screen character and the real life person Nevsky is actually playing. Nevsky’s transformation towards the end of the movie into a leather jacket wearing killing machine may be a bit too modern for traditional western fans (I liked it), but it’s fun to experience anyway. It will be interesting to see where the Turchin character goes in the upcoming sequel. Will Turchin become an even bigger badass or will we see a sort of more subdued killing machine?

Olivier Gruner gives one of the best performances of his career as Marshal Austin Carter. Instead of paying the most lethal gunfighter lawman in the world, Gruner makes Marshal Carter a lawman who is also a bit of a common man. He’s tough and smart, sure, and a guy that you don’t necessarily want to mess with, but at the same time he doesn’t give off that consummate killer that we’ve seen Gruner portray in other movies. And because he doesn’t get to do much in the way of martial arts (he does do a little late in the movie but it comes off as a surprise instead of what you expect to see from a guy like Marshal Carter) Gruner has to rely on his innate good guy charisma (think of his performance in the beginning of Automatic) and he’s just amazing. I’d love to see more from this character in the future (or just Gruner doing this kind of role again). Just a great, great performance.

Joe Cornet does a fine job as Sheriff Vernon Kelly. Cornet doesn’t try to make Kelly anything more than a solid lawman and someone that the denizens of Blind Chapel can depend on, which is exactly what the role requires. Kelly does seem to have a darkish past and is obviously quite capable of terrible violence, but it doesn’t really totally define him. He’s just a guy trying to protect his town, uphold the law, and get through another day without getting shot. He also has a relationship with Kerry Goodwin’s Jenny Gray that grounds him and makes him more relatable. Good stuff.

Mathias Hues is sleaze personified as notorious outlaw Ethan Crawley. Clad in an old Confederate jacket and entering town in shackles, Crawley has a smirk on his face practically the entire movie, and it’s not a “happy go lucky” smirk. Crawley knows that he may be down and out at the moment, but once his gang, his fellow scumbag ex-Confederates, catch up with him they will bring down bloody hell on those that messed with him. Crawley is also a gigantic individual (he is played by real deal martial artist Mathis Hues) and he can more than handle himself when necessary. I think, much like with Gruner’s performance, people will be surprised by Hues in this movie. However, unlike Gruner’s Marshal Carter, you never like Crawley as a person, but you will definitely be amused by him. Hues also makes you want to see Crawley get his comeuppance. That’s always great to see in a movie villain.

Natalie Denise Sperl and Kerry Goodwin both do a good job as Nora Miller and Jenny Gray, friends with Ivan Turchin and Sheriff Kelly. They don’t carry guns like Turchin and Kelly (Miller is a nurse and I’m not sure what Gray’s occupation in town is. Cook? She brings Sheriff Kelly food at one point in the movie) but they’re more than capable of mixing it up against the bad guys when called upon to do so. Could more have been done with them? Sure. But what we get is damn good and that’s all that really matters.

And John Marrs is superb as the truly loathsome Captain Grady, Crawley’s second-in-command. A ruthless prick that gets off on inflicting violence, Grady is just a terrible person through and through. He also has a penchant for licking the blood of his victims off his hands and fingers, which is just disturbing (Grady is a guy that likes to get his hands dirty when it comes to killing people that get in his way). Marrs also gives Grady a kind of manic energy that would easily fit inside a Rob Zombie movie. Don’t be surprised if you start to wonder if Marrs is the long lost brother of R. Lee Ermey. Marrs gives off that kind of vibe as Grady and it’s something you can’t take your eyes off of.

Gunfight at Rio Bravo is a fine piece of low budget western moviemaking. It doesn’t waste time, it movies quickly, is exciting when it needs to be, and it looks and feels like a real deal western. The movie also features several top notch performances from a great ensemble cast. And when it’s over, you will likely learn something you didn’t know about a real life guy named Ivan Turchin and you will want to see what happens next. I know I can’t wait to see what Taken from Rio Bravo has in store.

See Gunfight at Rio Bravo. See it, see it, see it.

Image Credit: Shout! Factory

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 35

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A decent opening theme, a barren landscape, attempted road robbery, Winchester pump to the face, a pretty cool opening titles sequence, cigar smoking, walking and talking, biscuits and gravy eating, talk about a whorehouse, a shootout, multiple headshots, attempted wound fixing, torture, a nasty knife fight, serious gut stabbing, blood licking, undertaker hooey, cocaine tablets, shit talking, church hooey, getting ready hooey, more cigar smoking, backstory hooey, more blood licking, sniper hooey, one vicious head shot, knee to the balls, attempted sexual assault, an extended gun battle, a brief martial arts fight, a showdown, a history lesson, and the promise of a sequel.

Kim Richards? None.

Gratuitous: Alexander Nevsky, Alexander Nevsky as a cowboy, Alexander Nevsky smoking a thin cigar, Olivier Gruner, Mathias Hues, Joe Cornet, Alexander Nevsky and Olivier Gruner eating biscuits and gravy and drinking beer, multiple headshots, booze drinking to “numb the pain,” paper money placed in between boobs, blood licking, cocaine tablets, Mathias Hues working out in the jail cell, gang cocaine snorting, double barrel shotgun hooey, Alexander Nevsky and Joe Cornet hoping to one day see Mathias Hues hanging from a rope, leather coat hooey, spy glass hooey, a big shootout, hilarious blasphemy, a showdown, a history lesson, and the promise of a sequel.

Best lines: “I’m not a farmer,” “Hey! This stuff looks costly!,” “Your friend is bleeding. You should help him,” “Church folk ain’t gonna like that, mayor,” “You son of a jezebel,” “Will you join us, sir? As long as you call me Ivan,” “Your mayor, he’s a strange bird. But he’s right about one thing. If my Hellhounds return to free me you’re all gonna be buzzard food,” “Is that all true, Ivan?,” “Sir, are you accusing me of thievery?,” “Do you know how hard it is to make money at this job? Hardly no one dies around here!,” “What does he mean by that? He means he’s going to get my boot up his maggot ass unless he shuts his fucking mouth!,” “Have any of you ever heard of the Rape of Athens?,” “Wait, you don’t want any firearms? No. I have my own,” “Ivan! Come back alive!,” “You think you’re the first man ever to point a gun at me?,” “Sonofabitch I can’t stand this!,” “I can’t just let my whole town die,” “Where is everyone? Dead, sir,” “This town’s got some big, dumb German or Russian or whatever the hell he is. He just won’t die! He’s killed every man I’ve thrown at him,” “He’s Russian. And he’s crazy enough to eat the Devil with his horns,” “You close that goddamn door and you stay inside or I’m gonna burn down that chapel myself,” and “Watch yourself, General, I will.”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Gunfight at Rio Bravo is a fine piece of low budget western moviemaking. It doesn’t waste time, it movies quickly, is exciting when it needs to be, and it looks and feels like a real deal western. The movie also features several top notch performances from a great ensemble cast that includes real deal action stars Alexander Nevsky, Olivier Gruner, and Mathis Hues. And when it’s over, you will likely learn something you didn’t know about a real life guy named Ivan Turchin and you will want to see what happens next. I know I can’t wait to see what Taken from Rio Bravo has in store. Be sure to check out Gunfight at Rio Bravo. It’s well worth your time. See it, see it, see it. Gunfight at Rio Bravo is available on DVD, Digital, and Video On Demand starting January 17th, 2023.