German DVD company Koch Media — famous for their reverent collection of Spaghetti Westerns — have issued one of the greatest SWs on DVD for the first time. Yes, I’m talking about Sergio Corbucci‘s excellent 1968 effort THE MERCENARY starring Franco Nero, Tony Musante and Jack Palance.
I ordered this PAL disc from Amazon.de about two months ago and it just arrived this week. The packaging is top-notch and includes a slip case and multi-page booklet (in German). The anamorphic image is strong but reveals some of the original film’s flaws including some fading color and scratchs. All in all it’s a decent package. The audio appears to be mono and is somewhat trebly but I only listened to the English language track. There appears to be some differences in the translation so I’ll definitely go back and watch this again in German and/or Italian with English subs. Incidentally the extras include an informative doc on the making of THE MERCENARY featuring star Nero (speaking in Italian) and it’s subbed in English — which is a nice touch for a German-language only label to include…so bravo.
For those who haven’t seen the film, rest assured this is the way to see it. I own an edited for TV 16mm print that I have really enjoyed but the widescreen presentation really lets this film “breathe”. Excellent performances all around create a geniunely thrilling and enjoyable hour and a half. Female lead Giovanna Ralli — as a strong-willed freedom fighter — is also rather easy on the eyes, which doesn’t hurt. If you haven’t gone region free, this disc is an excellent reason to do so. With the state of the DVD industry at this moment, I doubt that MGM will get around to releasing this in a Region 1 disc here in America. Interestingly, Corbucci virtually remade this film a couple of years later — with Nero and Palance again — as COMPANEROS which you can still rent from Netflix if you are so inclined.