Unrelentingly grim, which is certainly what the makers intended and what critics seem to love. I certainly acknowledge the superb craftsmanship by all concerned and the film's historical authenticity, but apart from being brutalized by the graphic brutality portrayed on the screen for over two hours what exactly is the message the makers are trying to convey? That being a slave was horrible? I had a pretty good hunch that was the case before I saw it. But if you want to frequently wince at graphic scenes of sadistic cruelty and leave the theater depressed, this is the film for you.
One of the all-time greats. It hits every western myth (and therefore most American myths) square on the head. It sure won't win any American Indian Image Awards, but has round-ups, stampedes, chuck wagons, gunfights, fist fights, trail rides, great scenery, and character actors galore. It also is an excellent example of the self-made man who with hard work and a gun is able to make a fortune on the frontier. Just wonderful.
The Korean version was a knockout because I didn't know what was going to happen. In this movie I did, and that proved fatal to the plot. This time around I could pay more attention to the story, which is actually kind of silly. How did the antagonist not only know which motel the protagonist was going to check into, but which room to wire with audiovisual recorders? That sort of thing. Any one of a hundred slightly different choices and the entire plot would crash. Then again, perhaps it is the style. No one does the nasty, elaborate revenge flick like the Koreans.
I understand why critics would like this film, but it isn't really my cup of tea. I have no doubt that it accurately portrays what many contemporary Austrian teens do, say, and think, and that the portrayal of the creepy adults is highly plausible. I suppose that makes the film informative, but that doesn't mean watching these characters is interesting or fun.
Like driving a familiar route; one knows exactly where one will be one hundred minutes later, and more or less knows what will be seen on the way. Still, it can be a pleasant trip, and I found this one to be so. An above-average cast (and a Stallone script) help bump the rating up a tad.