The Seven Ride Yet Again
Maybe it's because it's been a while since I last watched a "Magnificent Seven" movie but having recently rewatched "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" I found myself enjoying it, more than I enjoyed the previous sequel "Guns of the Magnificent Seven". And that is strange because whilst this 4th movie may throw in a couple of twists it basically uses the same old story, it even makes the same mistakes as previous sequels and we get are 3rd actor, Lee Van Cleef, to take on the role of Big Chris, or this time Marshal Chris Adams as he has become a lawman. Maybe that is it because Lee Van Cleef puts his own spin on what Chris should be like, still not up to the ultra cool standards of Yul Bryner but a lot better than George Kennedy's version. But there is something about "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" which makes it work better than the previous movie but still not getting close to being as good as the original "The Magnificent Seven".
Having married and turned from being a hired gun to a lawman, Marshal Chris Adams (Lee Van Cleef - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) turns down for a call for help from his old friend Jim Mackay (Ralph Waite) who has been hired to protect the Mexican village of Magdalena from mad Mexican Juan De Toro (Ron Stein). But when his wife is murdered by a gang of bank robbers Chris, along with his biographer Noah (Michael Callan), find themselves heading down to Mexico in pursuit of the killers. Discovering that Jim has already killed them but died in the process Chris decides to repay the debt by doing the job Jim was hired to do and with 5 convicts he gets released from Tucson prison prepares to defend the town and its women from De Toro.
So by the fourth movie the formula is pretty much set in stone and you know what to expect, there will be a Mexican village being terrorized by some mad Mexican Bandit and 7 men go down to put an end to him. And we do get that but with a little variation because initially Chris wants no part of defending a Mexican village having become a married lawman across the border. It actually allows for one of the good things because instead of having Chris a hired gun we have him as a ruthless lawman known for being tough and willing to kill those who break the law. And it is this variation which gives Chris motive to head down to Mexico going after 3 men who kidnapped, raped and then murdered his wife.
Now to be blunt whilst this opening provides a bit of variety it doesn't take long for the formula to kick in or at least kick in once we get a bit of "The Dirty Dozen" as Chris and his writer Noah head to Tucson prison to recruit five criminals to make up his team of Seven. After that we are in to the formula as the men prepare for attack from the mad Mexican and his men, knowing that some will die in defending the town. Oh I forgot to mention, all the men in the town have been murdered so we have women who help Chris and his men and yes that does mean Chris ends up falling for a widow.
The thing is that whilst "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" does end up going back to the well worn formula when it does it doesn't waste time. We watch as the men lay traps, places fences and explosive in preparation and before you know it we have the action. It may mean we get little time to connect with any of this seven but in a way we we're never meant to as this was always going to be about the battle as Juan De Toro and his men ride into the traps laid out by Chris and his men.
But whilst this fourth Magnificent Seven is all about the action it is aided by the casting of Lee Van Cleef because he does put his own spin on the character of Chris and he is a strong enough actor to pull it off. We end up forgetting that Chris was once the man in black as played by Bryner and is now this lawman with a murderous streak, almost self centred in not wanting to help others. Yet still there is than humanity to him as he does end up helping out, part in loyalty to a friend but also through a sense of kindness to the women left alone in the village when their men are murdered. And it is a good job that Van Cleef delivers because whilst the cast also features Stefanie Powers, Ed Lauter and Ralph Waite their performances are not exactly memorable.
What this all boils down to is that "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" is basically just a rehash of the formula set out in "The Magnificent Seven" and doesn't come close to matching up to the first movie. But it is an improvement on "Guns of the Magnificent Seven" with Lee Van Cleef putting his own spin on the character of Chris which makes it that little bit more interesting.