Young Guns 1 (1988) – Review

During the late 1800’s, John Tunstall (Terence Stamp) is a successful rancher that picks up young gunmen from the dark depths of despair and has them work on his large ranch, while also attempting to coach them back into becoming everyday citizens. When, however, he his gunned down by a rival rancher, all hell breaks loose, and the young men, spearheaded by Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez), become deputies in an attempt to avenge the murder of their friend and mentor. An action-packed western, released in 1988, that is more than worth a watch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Director: Christopher Cain
Writers: John Fusco
Starring: Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips

The story of Billy the Kid is one that has been told many times, but I can safely say that Young Guns managed to successfully present a fresh spin on this classic tale of good vs evil. Upon being released in 1988, the film went down well with viewers and critics alike, thus leading to the sequel that was released two years later – a film that will also be reviewed soon.

One aspect of the film that managed to stand out from the rest was the vast array of characters on display and the strength of the relationships they forged with each other. They each held their own distinct personality, which made it easy to become invested in them as characters and be alarmed at one or two cruel and shocking, twists and turns that occurred along the way.

In terms of the cinematography, as with most American westerns of this generation, it was extremely authentic and easy on the eye from the off. A large majority of the filming locations were based in the United States, with Arizona and New Mexico being two of the primary spots for filming. The filmmakers did a great job of depicting a realistic setting for this explosive flick.

A lot of films of this nature tend to skirt around the notion of being a little bit too outlandish to even entertain at times, but Young Guns seemed to present a fair amount of combat scenes to the viewer, without seeming like they were too overdone or too unrealistic in general. These were often complimented well, with just the right amount of humour, which was injected into certain scenes, at just the right times.

In terms of the cast, as previously mentioned, it was extremely vast and diverse, with Emilio Estevez doing a sensational job as the lead man himself, Billy the Kid. Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland also appeared in support roles as Dick Brewer and Doc Scurlock, respectively, while Lou Diamond Phillips also adopted the role of Chavez. Elsewhere, there were even appearances for Terry O’Quinn and Patrick Wayne, who starred as Alex McSween and Pat Garrett. Two characters that perhaps warranted more screen-time than they possessed.

As touched upon earlier, there was in fact a sequel to this 1988 release in the form of Young Guns 2 – a film that will be reviewed soon, but for now, if you’re interested in a classic tale of good vs evil, with a strong pinch of revenge thrown in there too, then give Young Guns a shot.

“You know, Sir, I do admire you, and I sure would like to touch the gun that’s gonna kill Billy the Kid.”

Billy the Kid – Young Guns

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