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Kid Vengeance

Kid Vengeance (1977)

August. 01,1977
| Western

One of Cannon Films' two 1976 Italian-Israeli co-productions starring Lee Van Cleef and Leif Garrett (Gianfranco Parolini's Pistola di Dio was the other), this spaghetti western was actually shot in the Middle East by American director Joseph Manduke. Pop star Garrett plays Tom, a teenager who teams with a black gunfighter named Isaac (Jim Brown) to avenge his family. The culprit was McClain (Van Cleef), a sadistic outlaw who carried out the brutal rape-massacre, but his role is minor, as most of the film deals with Tom's maturation and coming to terms with his feelings. Omnipresent 1970s character actors Glynnis O'Connor and John Marley co-star. If there is anything remarkable about Kid Vengeance, it is Francesco Masi's fine musical score, but the film is otherwise anemic.


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Leif Garrett did this film a year after God's Gun (aka Diamante Lobo). In the previous film, Garrett was quite good in a challenging (for several reasons) role, but his performance felt a bit tentative (also for several reasons). In this film, just one year later and for the same infamous producers, he was confident, sure-footed and turned in a very fine performance. The film was his to carry, and he did so quite well. Garrett was one of Hollywood's most promising young actors at the time, when too many child actors were, at best, barely adequate. True, it was a low budget, cranked out film, but Leif was a class act. Lee Van Cleef had played similar roles before - many times. He could have phoned this one in, and sometimes it looked as though he did. Jim Brown, following up a legendary professional football career with a number of turns as a film actor, handled his assignment competently. The only other actors with anything significant to do were Glynnis O'Connor, who sometimes overacted and wasn't as good as in some of her later roles; John Marley, good as always in the sort of role he has played many times; and David Menachem, an Israeli child actor who did several other American films but somehow didn't catch on. He should have; he was quite good. The production values were much better than God's Gun. The script was much more coherent, the dialogue more speakable, the direction more fluid. At least part of it was shot in New Mexico (the rest in Israel). Being in the US meant that the production was controlled by a SAG contract, always an advantage. Kid Vengeance (also available at one time or another under several other titles: Vengeance, Vendetta, Take Another Hard Ride) gave Garrett the chance to launch a serious career as an actor. He demonstrated that he was up to the challenge. But then the music producers came along. Too bad.


When the spaghetti western genre died in Italy, spaghetti western star Lee Van Cleef went to Israel and made a couple of westerns there, "God's Gun" and "Kid Vengeance", which I just watched. It's a pretty cheap-looking affair - producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were pinching pennies even back then. But despite the low budget, the movie is surprisingly involving. It's surprisingly grim, with Van Cleef making a great villain. Surprisingly, a lot of the grimness comes from Leif Garrett, who you may not believe is quite good as an innocent youth who is so traumatized by the murder of his parents that he starts to hunt down and kill (in sometimes brutal ways) the gang members responsible. Jim Brown is also good in a sympathetic role, one that refreshingly doesn't make his race an issue. Maybe this isn't a fabulous western, but if you are a fan of European westerns, chances are you'll find this kosher western very entertaining.


Seek this one out if you are looking for a different kind of Lee Van Cleef "spaghetti-type western". Definitely on a par with his lesser westerns like "Death Rides a Horse", but inferior to "The Big Gundown", this revenge story has quite a few unusual aspects. The surviving massacred family member is a young boy, who proves quite resourceful in his vendetta against Van Cleef and his gang. Lee is definitely not a sympathetic character, and his evil presence is perhaps only surpassed by "Angel Eyes" in "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". The quality of the DVD is inferior, with the sound badly out of sync. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this unique "pseudo-spaghetti western". - MERK


KID VENGEANCE (2 outta 5 stars) Cheaply-made and poorly-directed piece of western fluff starring Lee Van Cleef as one of the most vile villains he's ever played. This was during his later years when he was getting a bit long in the tooth to believably play those nasty, tough guy parts... but he is still the most interesting thing in this movie. He leads a bunch of bandits who rape and kill the mom and dad of young Leif Garrett and then kidnap his sister. Leif goes after them with "vengeance" on his mind. He begins to pick off the bandits one by one, using some pretty unconventional means (bow and arrow, rocks, scorpions, the old snake-in-the-saddlebag trick). He eventually teams up with a gold prospector (Jim Brown) whose life savings have been stolen by these men as well. The film starts off looking like a bad TV-movie... but once the raping and killing starts it becomes obvious that this was no "Movie Of The Week". You might be interested enough to sit through it once but this is no classic by any means.