A Bullet for the General (El chuncho, quien sabe?) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Bullet for the General (El chuncho, quien sabe?) Reviews

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½ November 24, 2016
An essential Zapata Western, and probably my favourite Volonte performance. The guns, Gringo, we need more guns!
½ February 25, 2015
A spaghetti without the proper music and atmosphere isn't a good spaghetti...
½ February 8, 2015
Quien Sabe? (trans: Who Knows?) smartly explores the nature and nurture of man. Can one change their natural instincts towards violence? Can one be tamed? Though it's unwieldy in form, and overly modest with the music, this violent Spaghetti Western has a very interesting angle. 7/10.
October 22, 2013
I expected to like this movie more than I did. The main characters are compelling. Dollars Trilogy bad guy Volonte is brilliantly cast here as a morally ambiguous figure who wavers between gangster individualism / opportunism and commitment to a cause. Castel combines the silence of a man-with-no-name type character with the clean cut looks of a Neil Patrick Harris who never turned to drugs. And of course Kinski is brilliant as a principled killer priest. Most of the plot is kind of winding. Maybe it's supposed to have long patches with confused, muted motivations, and this is a commentary on what real revolutions are like? There's not a lot of drama around the titular bullet and general. The epilogue of the movie is interesting, though, reflecting on Bill Tate's Yanqui individualism, and this in a sense made me rethink the whole movie as being a deconstruction of the black hat / white hat / gray hat dualisms of even "morally complex" Spaghetti westerns. Classic "man with no name" figures in Spaghetti westerns have a moral complexity because they don't follow "good guy" moral codes; they are often bandits or outlaws, yet they achieve a kind of moral justification through their decent treatment of individuals they run into, especially the weak, downtrodden, and excluded. A Bullet for the General flips this script. Is Bill Tate a condemnable mercenary or a man-with-no-name type who will achieve a kind of justification through individual decency? With cunning and a surprising amount of risk, he stops a woman from being raped; she is the wife of a local governor, and neither of them are especially sympathetic, but Tate's willingness to intervene to stop a heinous act recommends him for the man-with-no-name justification. He treats Chucho (who I'm pretty sure is really named "Chucho," and not the Francophile "Chuncho") with unnecessary friendship and decency, complicating Chucho's feelings towards him. Yet in the end, the viewer sees, through Chucho's eyes, another aspect of Tate's personality and political existence which have remained constant: his disgust and contempt towards poor Mexicans as a class / nationality / race, despite his ability to befriend individual Mexicans. If the typical man with no name achieves a kind of filmic salvation through a staunch refusal of the social through his gentleness with individuals who are somehow weak or outside the boundaries of societal protection, Tate achieves a kind of inverted filmic damnation. His bad deeds and greed, which initially may seem excusable in light of his individual decency, are put in perspective by the fact that his individual decency only extends to those people who are humanized and individualized within Tate's own moral code. He still treats Mexicans-in-general like dogs, and Chucho ("mutt" or "cur" in vernacular Spanish) responds to this realization with a kind of existential, a-logical choice.

Writing about this movie convinced me that I liked it better than I thought I did. It is a sort of deconstruction of the value system of the (less clearly radical, Leone-style) spaghetti Western that still remains within the genre. But don't expect the tight plot and dramatic tension of a Leone film! If you like interesting characters and this ideological, deconstructive element, this film is definitely worth your time; if not, Duck, You Sucker! / Once upon a Time, the Revolution is probably a more digestible Zapata western.

The dub was terrible - especially since a) materials suggest the dub edits out most of the politics (I definitely noticed this a bit in the beginning, where the Spanish speakers were talking about revolution and nothing about revolution was dubbed into English) and b) unlike in the Leone films, to my knowledge none of the main characters were speaking dialogue in English. This film is worth a modern criterion collection type treatment with original language tracks and subtitles!
May 20, 2013
Gritty political western, but the action of the Mexican revolutionary outweighs the ideology.
March 21, 2013
Over rated and extremley boring. This done nothing for me. Give me the Companeros any day of the week.
January 2, 2013
Great political spaghetti with the wonderful Gian Maria Volonte. Worth seeking out.
August 17, 2012
poor spaghetti western
August 6, 2012
Another Spaghetti Western that hits the mark--volanti on fire!!
July 2, 2012
A routine Spaghetti Western without much of interest.
½ June 9, 2012
It can drag a bit, but it's admirably ambitious, it has solid action scenes, and an engaging on screen relationship.
½ June 7, 2012
A gringo assassin infiltrates a group of Mexican revolutionaries in order to get close enough to the rebel leader "General" Elias to be able to shoot him with the special gold bullet he keeps in his valise. Along the way he forms an peculiarly intense relationship with the bandido's leader El Chuncho. This film is definitely out of the top drawer of spag westerns. It's superbly acted - the two leads, GianMaria Volonte and Lou Castel, are outstanding. Klaus Kinski is as mesmerising as ever in a role smaller than I expected given his prominent billing. It sags a little in the middle but overall it's an exciting and enthralling work with some interesting and thoughtful interludes - director Damiani was clearly on the top of his game. The attack on the train at the beginning is one of the very best sequences I have seen in any western and there's also a hilarious moustache-tweaking scene which is not to be missed.
½ September 5, 2011
La Rivoluzione messicana porta sulla medesima strada due uomini agli antipodi: un mercenario yankee incaricato dai servizi segreti di uccidere il capo dei rivoluzionari e un ribelle combattuto tra vocazioni rivoluzionarie e tornaconti economici. Il loro sodalizio viene incrinato dalla lotta di classe e dall'opposizione al colonialismo. Non sorprende, dunque, che questa pellicola antesignana della Contestazione sia stata realizzata da impegnati uomini di cinema, che hanno reso grande la Settima arte italiana: Franco Solinas è lo sceneggiatore di "La battaglia di Algeri" e "Queimada"; gli straordinari attori (GianMaria Volontè, Lou Castel e Klaus kinski) segnarono quella felice stagione cinematografica; Luis Bacalov ed Ennio Morricone hanno realizzato una colonna sonora potente; nessuno poteva blandamente immaginare che Damiano Damiani avrebbe sortito, trent'anni dopo, una buffonata del calibro di "Alex l'ariete"
July 23, 2011
Damn!!!! This is actually a good spagetthi western! Very well filmed, Volonte is amazing as Chucho the bandito. Now my only problem with this film is the american title, but for that it makes up with suspence great action sequences, great acting and a good story. It rivals the dollar trilogy as my favorite spagetthi western.
½ February 27, 2011
not well paced but when it works it's a lot of fun, with always hammy Klaus Kinski and enjoyably laughable Gian Maria Volonte in the leads.
December 23, 2010
El Chuncho a tout pour plaire formellement. Outre Damiani, le film peut compter sur un casting de qualit (C) avec Gian Maria Volonte ou Klaus Kinski par exemple. La musique est sign (C)e Luis Bacalov, mais est supervis (C)e par Morricone. A ce niveau, c'est d (C)jà très fort et ce n'est certainement pas par eux qu'on sera d (C)çu. L'histoire se d (C)roule durant la r (C)volution mexicaine. Pas de place pour l'amour dans El Chuncho. Ici, il n'y a que meurtres, fusillades et massacres. On tue pour rien, pas de prisonnier, pas de quartier. El Chuncho est rejoint par un jeune yankee. Les deux hommes vont se lier d'amiti (C) mais possèdent tous des buts diff (C)rents. L'Am (C)ricain arrive avec une id (C)e bien pr (C)cise qui est celle de se faire de l'argent. L'oeuvre raconte surtout la perte des valeurs de El Chuncho qui va sacrifier ses amis petit à petit au nom de l'argent. La vie n'avait d (C)jà pratiquement aucun sens pour ces hommes. L'être humain est ici fou, inconscient, sot ou mercantile. J'ajouterais simplement que l'oeuvre est gâch (C)e par la VF (disponible seulement dans cette version en DVD...), mais même si c'est de très bonne facture, on est un rien en-dessous pour moi d'un Leone ou de Keoma de Castellari.
December 9, 2010
Once upon a time Sergio Leone revoluzionized Western movies. Other Italian directors gave original contributions to the genre. This is one of the best, fiercely political and played by 2 of the most brilliant actors of all times, Klaus Kinskyk and Gian Maria Volont, who here plays a Mexican Bandido speaking in the dialect of Milano. Let any other actors try that...
Super Reviewer
½ November 17, 2010
As far as Zapata westerns goes this one has a strong reputation, and i can see why. It has good action sequences, a great cast and solid direction. Story wise it's an ambitious but problematic affair, the political commentary of the movie feels flat because of it's either naive or short-sighted nature. El chuncho is the cliche of the mexican bandit with the "heart of gold", tempted by the cold and greedy "gringo" who just wants to make a quick cash without caring for human life at all. The entire arc of this fable lacks smooth transitions, which ends giving us a Chuncho who switches gears too often and too abrupt depending of where the script is going, not so much of where the characters are going.

There is never any particular motivation for him to trust gringo so much, so their relation is never as strong as the movie tries to portray it. The themes of friendship, loyalty and political beliefs are just not well devoleped, and considering films like compaeros and duck you sucker just did it better "el chuncho" really doesn't come out as highly as it's reputation would suggest.
November 11, 2010
That's one of my Favourite Spaghettiwestern A Revolution Western of Class with the hillarious Trio Lou Castel, Gian Maria Volonte & Klaus Kinksi so stylish, full of Socio-Critsm, Violence & with a realistic Senseless Behavouir of the Characters
½ October 28, 2010
Cracking entertainment and made, like all great Spaghetti Westerns, with a heart of gold. Solid revolutionary stff here. The dodgy dubbing seems to add to the atmosphere in these kind of pics. Great charaters built here, including Klaus and Gian Maria who both look like they were born out of sand and wind
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