Kid Vengeance (1977)

Cast: Lee van Cleef, Jim Brown, Leif Garrett, Glynnis O'Connor, John Marley, David Loden, Matt Clark, Dalia Penn - Director: Joseph Manduke

poster for Kid Vengeance

Vengeance, vengeance, always vengeance, this time, even Kid Vengeance. Don't be fooled: the vengeance in this movie might be exacted by a kid, but it's by no means a kiddie movie. It's a full-blooded, nasty vengeance movie from the days when political correctness was not yet on filmmaker's agenda

Kid Vengeance is also the twin movie of God's Gun. Both films were produced by the infamous cousins Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan, who revitalized independent film making in their home country, Israel, with projects like the very decent Operation Thunderbolt (1977). However, most people will know them for movies such as Delta Force, Firewalker or Cobra, gung ho, right-wing action flicks with the likes of Norris or Stallone. This film rather falls in that category, even though there's no political subtext (thank God, or his gun).

Lee van Cleef is reunited with then 15-year old Leif Garret, but this time around, they're not friends, but foes. Van Cleef is a headband wearing bandit (I guess he's supposed to be an Indian) who kills Garret's father, shames (and kills) his mother and kidnaps his sister. Garrett, who has witnessed the rape, starts following the gang through the desert, picking up the bandits one by one, killing them in gruesome fashion, using bow and arrow, and also rocks, scorpions and snakes. In other words: everything the desert has to offer, can and will be used against those murderers and rapists.

Is this movie any good? Well, subtle it aint, but I have seen worse. Like God’s Gun it was shot in Israel, and it’s a small miracle that it was shot at all. Globus & Golan had dropped the crew of God’s Gun in the middle of the desert, without money and a sufficient supply of food and water, and the affair had been one of the worst experiences ever for the people involved. For this reason it’s also a small miracle that Van Cleef went back to the Israeli desert to star in the second half of the diptych. I suppose he had signed a contract for both movies, but it might have helped that Globus and Golan had also signed Jim Brown for the second entry. The two men had appeared side by side in westerns like El Condor and Take a Hard Ride (therefore the film is also known as Take another Hard Ride), and had become good friends. In Kid Vengeance they have very few scenes together. Brown is a prospector who teams up Garrett after his gold has been stolen by the bandits, and his part seems ill-defined; he comes and goes in the movie, and occasionally looks bewildered, as if he’s asking himself what he’s doing in the middle of the desert.

The director of the first movie, Italian Gianfranco Parolini, was replaced by Joseph Manduke, a man who had almost exclusively worked for television. His direction is rather anonymous. Van Cleef, Brown and Garrett deliver a decent job, but eventually the film looks as cheap as it probably was. There’s no Leone here, only a Manduke. Don’t expect anything in terms of style. Watch it like I did, with low expectations, and you might enjoy it. Gung Ho!

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