The Film (3.5/5)
A bank robbery goes bad, and starts a fire that leads to a local prison. Four inmates manage to escape to the country side. One of the group is named Chuck Moll (Leonard Mann) and he is on a mission to discover the truth of his past, since he has recently lost his memory. Little does he know, that in the next town over, a man named Joe Caldwell (Helmuth Schneider) may hold the secret to his past.
THE UNHOLY FOUR (1970, Aka: CHUCK MOLL) is a slightly above average entry in the spaghetti western genre, before it’s slow transition into comedies (THEY CALL ME TRINITY) and experimental dramas (KEOMA). The action is smooth and the cast is likable, but deep down the whole movie doesn’t stick together. In one respect, it’s interesting to see a more normal entry in the genre before the 1970’s transition, but one can’t help if some more bizarre elements would’ve helped it stand out some more.
Of the four leads, the main character of Chuck Moll, could’ve been an interesting challenge for any actor, but Leonard Mann (THE FORGOTTEN PISTOLERO) comes off as too wooden. Mann is miscast in the role of an ace gunfighter with a lost memory. One hilarious misstep is a major plot twist reveled with a quick cut to Mann screaming no with no energy. It’s a shame Franco Nero or George Hilton wasn’t in the role, and turned this into a new signature character in the same vein as Django.
Luckily, the remaining unholy three are well cast and beef up their limited roles. Woody Strode (KEOMA, MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE) is always a joy to have around. His strong figure and soulful eyes deliver plenty of chills in some of the more dramatic scenes. One highlight for his character, has him playing the piano in an old church while singing the gospel. The dark and handsome Peter Martell (DEATH WALKS AT MIDNIGHT) is charming as the pretty boy of the group with a passion for signals. The most imposing of the four is George Eastman (RABID DOGS, DJANGO PREPARE A COFFIN), here billed under his real name, Luigi Montefiori. Eastman can play a western hero in his sleep, so having him around for adds to the production. Also in a small role is euro crime regular, Romano Puppo (STREET LAW) as one of the hitmen after Chuck Moll.
For a first-time director, Enzo Barboni (THEY CALL ME TRINITY), shows a real eye for visual flair in the locations and action set pieces. The cast all seem natural and at ease with the material. Barboni would soon direct more western comedies, and his timing for sight gags can be seen on display here. The great Riz Ortolani wrote the score for the film, and sadly it’s not one of the better Spaghetti western scores. It’s quickly over placed and forgettable. The screenplay by Mario di Nardo and Franco Rossetti is entertaining, but plays it too safe overall.
The first track is the 2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio mix. The English dialogue is a little soft overall. The sound effects and musical score are well mixed with no pops or hiss. The 2.0 Italian DTS-HD Master Audio mix is much preferred. It has a richer sound mix with a fuller range. Easy to read English subtitles are included.
The 1080p HD transfer is where this release truly shines. The picture is crystal clear with a sharp focus. The black levels are smooth, and the oranges especially stand out with their warm and welcoming center. The amount of detail in every shot is beyond impressive.
Extras are limited to a trailer gallery with two trailers, SABATA and NAVAJO JOE.
THE UNHOLY FOUR is an average western, that suffers from a weak lead. The supporting characters make this a fun adventure for fans of the genre. This Kino Blu-ray release has a fantastic audio and video transfers, that more than makes up for the lack of extras. If you’re a spaghetti western fan this film is a no brainer addition to your collections. If your new to the genre this is a safe bet. Recommended.