HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Undefeated
HTS Overall Score:75
To round out the 8 film batch of “Fox Voice Your Choice” classic films is one of John Wayne’s last films. The one and only time that John Wayne starred opposite of Rock Hudson. During the late 60’s we were seeing a change in film history. The western was on its last legs and trying to stay modern and up to date. As a result there were some shaky times and some mish mashed films in that area of time. John Wayne was the last great gasp for the genre’s longevity, being a legend among western film making people. The Duke has played in a variety of films and has played a variety of villains, but has never been more at home under a 10 gallon hat and astride a steed in the old west. “The Undefeated”, while having a bit of a shaky storyline, still manages to pull itself up out of the mire due to the Duke and Rock Hudson just stealing the spotlight at every moment. John Wayne hams it up as his classic “howdy Pilgrim” type of rugged old west hero, and Rock can charm the feathers off a goose with his classy southern charm, giving me a very solid grin for the majority of the film.
The Civil War was a time of tragedy for our nation, pitting brother against brother, state against state, men who swore an oath to uphold the nation now squabbling and killing each other for what they thought was right. War is always a regrettable action due to the loss of life, but infighting is always the most tragic, when we attack parts of ourselves and cause damage on our own home front, leaving the entire nation in shambles. Here we start the film right after General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Grant, signaling the end of the war. Henry Lee Thomas (John Wayne), a Colonel in the Union Army decides to resign his commission with the last of his men and go out west to wrangle horses to sell to the army. At the same time, Colonel James Langdon (Rock Hudson), of the Confederate army, mobilizes his battalion and marches south, to Mexico, where he intends to continue the war on the states with his ragtag band.
As luck would have it, the two men’s lives become inextricably bound together, With Henry Lee sending a herd of horses to Emperor Maximillian of Mexico and Colonel Langdon’s group of soldiers meet south of the border. After realizing that the two parties have a band of outlaws on their tail, Henry Lee decides to give a helping hand to the confederate families, where the two men form a bond of respect for each other. To make matters worse, both men are walking right into a hot mess as they unknowingly enter into the Mexican revolution. Here they must learn to not just respect each other, but each has to learn to give in order to survive the trials.
The film itself plays like a good old fashioned western, for the most part. The 1st two acts run along at a very smooth clip, giving the two ginormous film stars to do what they do best, steal the hearts of the audience. The film starts to falter in the 3rd act, giving way to a rather unsatisfactory conclusion for the two men, with a twist that makes one wince. That’s to say it’s not a horrible ending, but one that is rather anti-climactic and tends to be a bit too saccharin sweet in some spots. The sheer cheesy fun of a good western is still here in spades and I can gladly say that it is leagues better than “North to Alaska”. The Duke has been a staple in American cinema and he still shines brightly here, with a much better written script and a load of good fun.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=14079[/img]The 2.35:1 cinemascope picture looks absolutely fantastic. The print is in very good shape and shows a very nice layer of grain over the whole image, no signs of digital tampering could be seen by my eye. Compression issues were void and null with a nice healthy bitrate and I could not detect any macroblockng. The colors are rich and bright, with the dusky browns of the desert contrasted with the lush greens and blues of the southern states. Contrast is well within reason and skin tones look excellent, albeit a little pink at times. Black levels are clean and consistent with only a few instances of black crush. A very solid encode and one that is happily free of just about any issues.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=14080[/img]As with some of the other films in this collection, the movie comes with a 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono track as well as a fully fleshed out 5.1 DTS-HD MA track. While the mono track is excellent for purists, the 5.1 track is actually quite a robust track, with lots of information being sent to each speaker. The surrounds are used nicely and with much aplomb and the front soundstage is nicely detailed. The dialogue is clear and clean with only minor issues such as a voice fading every once in a while due to the actor turning away from the microphone (back then it was less common to be surrounded on all sides by a microphone). LFE is smooth and mild, there’s some pants shaking with the cannons near the beginning of the film, but very little deep rumbling bass. Mostly it’s used to supplement the film with the hooves of horses and the occasional crash of a wagon. Still an very solid track that will not disappoint.
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Everyone likes a good western, even in today’s western starved movie industry. John Wayne was a legend of the genre, and rightfully so. His charm and rough spoken manners endeared him to the audience and could pull a mediocre film to “good” status just by being present. “The Undefeated” isn’t his best work, but it’s still a LOT of fun, and a great 2 hours of nostalgia. With solid video and audio, it’s a definite recommend to check out. Extras fans will be disappointed, but don’t let that stop your from checking out the film.
Starring: John Wayne, Rock Hudson
Directed by: Andrew McLaglen
Written by: James Lee Barrett
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA Mono, German, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DD Mono, Spanish, Italian DTS-HD MA Mono,
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 118 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Dec 3rd, 2013
Buy The Undefeated Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Check It Out
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