The Horsemen (1971) starring Omar Sharif, Leigh Taylor-Young, Jack Palance directed by John Frankenheimer Movie Review

The Horsemen (1971)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Omar Sharif in The Horsemen (1971)

No Room for Pale Riders

As the son of Tursen (Jack Palance), a champion in the dangerous sport of buzkashi, Uraz (Omar Sharif) has always felt like he was in his father's shadow. So when Tursen has his son be one of his six riders in a huge buzkashi in Kabul Uraz sees it as a chance to prove himself his father's equal and win a prized white horse, more valuable than anything. But after breaking his leg during the buzkashi Uraz decides to prove himself still a great man he must make the trek home along the most dangerous of roads having had his servant cut off the cast the hospital place him in. But between the dangers of the journey, the dangers of sickness, the dangers of those who would kill him for his horse and the danger of Uraz's stubbornness it is a desperate journey.

Prior to watching "The Horsemen" I had never heard of buzkashi let alone seen it and now having seen what buzkashi is I can't say that I want to see it again. For those who have never heard of buzkashi it is basically a bunch of elite horsemen who on horseback fight over a headless goat and the aim is to ride it around a huge field before returning it to the start point all the time fending off the brutal whip of your competitors as they try to tear the goat from your grip. It is brutal but it is one of the show pieces in "The Horsemen" as we witness this competition going on and it is attention grabbing and shocking as we witness the ferocity of it as well as the danger. It is not the only attention grabbing scene another featuring Tursen riding a horse and trying unsuccessfully to jump on to a building also grabs your attention.

Leigh Taylor-Young in The Horsemen (1971)

The thing about "The Horsemen" is that beyond these set piece scenes the rest of the movie is a struggle as we have the journey of Uraz who wishes to emerge from his father's shadow and prove himself a man with his stubbornness and recklessness constantly putting himself in danger. The trouble is that the characters are so poorly written that you are forced to create the character depth yourself, not read between the lines but actually create your own characters especially when out of nowhere the beautiful Zareh, played by Leigh Taylor-Young, shows up and we have no idea as to why she would choose to be with such a stubborn and selfish man as Uraz in the first place.

It is a shame that "The Horsemen" is lacking in script and character depth as visually it is as impressive as any epic. The scenes of the buzkashi are horrific but mesmerising as are the scenes of Uraz riding over the snow covered mountains which seem endless as they continue off as far as you can see.

What this all boils down to is that "The Horsemen" is visually a captivating movie but sadly that is it as due to the script and lack of character depth it is a hard move to fully stay involved with.