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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Villa Rides [Blu-ray]


(Buzz Kulik, 1968)


Coming to the UK on Blu-ray from Signal One in January 2023:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Olive Films



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:01:59.228

Disc Size: 24,653,607,858 bytes

Feature Size: 24,444,733,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.38 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 18th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1842 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1842 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



• English, None



• None





Description: Villa Rides!, Buzz Kulik's (Riot) sprawling historical adventure set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution stars Yul Brynner (The Magnificent Seven) as the Mexican renegade Pancho Villa and Robert Mitchum (The Night of the Hunter) as Lee Arnold, an American fortune hunter for hire. Villa Rides! features a supporting cast that includes Charles Bronson (Death Wish) as Villa s right hand man, Rodolfo Fierro; Herbert Lom (A Shot in the Dark) as the imperious General Victoriano Huerta; Alexander Knox (The Longest Day) as President Francisco Madero; Fernando Rey (The French Connection) as the dutiful soldier Fuentes; and Grazia Buccella (After the Fox) as Fina, the woman who would share the love of both Villa and Arnold. Villa Rides! is written for the screen by the legendary Robert Towne (Oscar-winning screenwriter of Chinatown) and Sam Peckinpah (Oscar nominee for The Wild Bunch screenplay) based on the novel by William Douglas Lansford; photographed by Jack Hildyard (Oscar winner for The Bridge on the River Kwai) and features a rousing score by three-time Oscar winner Maurice Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage to India).



The Film:

The Mexican revolution according to Hollywood. Scripted by Robert Towne and Sam Peckinpah, it makes some gestures towards indicating the political and personal complexities behind the career of Pancho Villa (played by Brynner with hair for once). Unfortunately, these are rather nullified by the need to centre the whole thing on an American identification figure - Mitchum as a freebooting pilot - who can serve as a focus for the statutory clichés about simple peasant loyalties and not killing people when you don't hate them. Bronson steals the picture as Villa's brutal lieutenant, who likes to shoot prisoners personally, then have his trigger-finger gently massaged by a pretty wench. Filmed in Panavision in Spain.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Villa Rides arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films but there is something wrong. The visuals look digitized, smeary, soft, flat and waxy. It's the usual single-layered and it's either the source of the transfer - but there is no grain and the image quality is poor. Colors appear vibrant but, again, I don't know that this enhancement is the cause of the presentation imperfections. The Blu-ray is unfortunately not up the video caliber that would impress serious home theater fans.




















Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1842 kbps (24-bit). The effects - guns and the plane to export depth but the best thing about this BD is the original music by Maurice Jarre (The Tin Drum, The Man Who Would Be King, The Damned etc.) via the lossless rendering adds a beautiful layer onto the film's faux-historic qualities. It is another of his pleasing scores. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.




I was enjoying Villa Rides - mostly because of Mitchum and the sexy Spanish babes but it wasn't enough to overcome the distracting image quality. Perhaps I've been spoiled by watching many 4K restoration via Criterion but Villa Rides looking quite poor, IMO. Hence, the Blu-ray doesn't offer much in the way of value - and despite the adventurous film qualities including the delightful Jarre score - we suggest a 'pass' this time. 

Gary Tooze

October 18th, 2016

Coming to the UK on Blu-ray from Signal One in January 2023:


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze





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