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The Mexican guerilla leader Tepepa and his gang fight against the chief of police, Cascorro.
For more about Tepepa and the Tepepa Blu-ray release, see the Tepepa Blu-ray Review
Starring: Tomas Milian, Orson Welles, John Steiner
Director: Giulio Petroni
» See full cast & crew
Tepepa Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 5, 2013
Giulio Petroni's "Tepepa" a.k.a "Blood and Guns" (1969) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of German distributors Koch Media. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailers for the film; featurette; deleted scene with a commentary by director Giulio Petroni; alternative opening credits; and a collection of promotional materials for the film. In English, Italian, or German, with optional German subtitles. Region-Free.
The film begins some time after the Mexican Revolution in a small town not too far away from the U.S. border. Doctor Henry Price (John Steiner, Tenebrae, Mannaja: A Man Called Blade), a British national, appears looking for Tepepa (Tomas Milian, Beatrice Cenci, Django, Kill... If You Live, Shoot!), a famous revolutionary turned outlaw, who has recently been captured by Colonel Cascorro's (Orson Welles, Touch of Evil) men. Before it is made perfectly clear why the doctor needs him, the two men meet on the town's crowded square, where Tepepa is brought to be executed. The doctor helps him escape with his fancy car and the two immediately head to the desert.
Far away from Cascorro's men, Tepepa asks the doctor why he saved his life. The plain answer confuses Tepepa.
Eventually, Tepepa reunites with his men and they go back to harassing the area's rich landowners. Cascorro, their most prominent ally, vows to find Tepepa and finish him off, despite the fact that the Mexican government is no longer willing to pay for his head. For a while Tepepa manages to evade him, but eventually their paths cross again in a rugged canyon.
This little seen on this side of the Atlantic spaghetti western directed by Giulio Petroni appears to have been available on the home video market in at least three different versions – Italian and English versions, both with different running times, and a hybrid version incorporating some Italian-language scenes into a longer English-language version. This Blu-ray release of Tepepa, which is part of German distributors Koch Media's Western Unchained collection, uses such a hybrid English-language version, which I assume is the most complete version of the film.
Tepapa is a slow and atmospheric western which could be a bit uneven at times. Early on, important parts of its story are told through flashbacks, some of which overlap, making it rather difficult for the viewer to quickly figure out the true intentions of the main characters. However, once enough is revealed, the film becomes very dark and surprises with some excellent observations about loyalty and patriotism.
Milian and Steiner undergo terrific character transformations, but it is the unusually nasty colonel Welles plays that gives the film its exotic flavor. This is quite an achievement because excluding the violent finale in other parts of the film his time in front of the camera is always limited.
The film will likely resonate differently with different viewers, but its message should be clear – violence begets violence. Petroni's small addition to it is that those who commit violent acts in the name of justice are still murderers who deserve to be punished.
Tepepa was lensed by cinematographer Francisco Marin (Duccio Tessari's Kiss Kiss… Bang Bang, Nando Cicero's They Were Called Graveyard). The wide panoramic shots throughout the film are quite beautiful. The finale, where Tepepa's men ride into the deser waving a huge Mexican flag, in particular looks fantastic.
Tepepa's soundtrack was composed and orchestrated by the legendary Ennio Morricone. It was conducted by Bruno Nicolai.
Tepepa Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Giulio Petroni's Tepepa arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of German distributors Koch Media.
There is some extremely light noise that occasionally makes its presence felt (see screencapture #2), but none of it ever becomes distracting. Grain is retained and there are no traces of problematic sharpening corrections. Unsurprisingly, detail is good and depth often quite pleasing. Colors are stable, never looking boosted or flat. There are no large damage marks and cuts, but there are a couple of small vertical lines that pop up (I have included a capture with one such vertical line for you to see - please see screencapture #17). During normal playback, however, they are virtually impossible to spot. There are no serious compression issues, but some light artifacts can be seen. To sum it all up, even though there is some room for improvement, Koch Media's presentation of Tepepa is indeed very pleasing. I certainly am more than happy with the way the film looks on Blu-ray. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
Tepepa Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are three standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, and German DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Koch Media have provided optional German and English subtitles for the main feature. However, while the German subtitles can be turned on and off from the main menu, the English subtitles will appear only when you select the English track and only during the small clips where Italian language is spoken (the version of Tepepa included on this disc is the most complete version of the film, using portions of Italian-language footage previously found only on the Italian release).
The lossless English audio track is very good. Generally speaking, the dialog is crisp and clean, while the action scenes have good depth. Some very small dynamic fluctuations are present during the Italian-language clips, but the overall quality is in fact very good. In fact, more often than not it is virtually impossible to tell when the transition is made because dynamic balance is excellent. Lastly, there is no heavy hiss or distortions to report in this review.
Tepepa Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Tepepa Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I've seen a couple of the films that currently appear in German distributors Koch Media's Western Unchained Collection, most notably Tinto Brass' Yankee and Sergio Corbucci's Navajo Joe, and liked them a lot. Currently there are only two available on Blu-ray, Tepepa being one of them, but I plan to pick them all. These spaghetti westerns are great to see late at night. Virtually all of them also have outstanding soundtracks. I like the presentation and I like the price tag. RECOMMENDED.
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