You never know what you're going to get when you sit down to watch a Django film but I've managed to luck out with most of the films I've watched these last few weeks and this one is no exception. While you couldn't call Django the Last Killer a masterpiece, it is well made and quite above-average for the genre. The crux of the plot revolves around Django - now an aging bounty killer - teaching his gun-fighting skills to a young apprentice. This isn't really a revolutionary concept for the genre, the far more famous Day of Anger with Lee Van Cleef came out the same year, but Django the Last Killer still manages to make the story its own by being more earnest and less cynical.
The plot is
pretty simple. George Eastman plays Ramon, the son of a Mexican farmer,
who gets robbed on his way to pay the local landowner, Barrett, his
monthly rent. He recovers from his injuries and continues on to
Barrett's place to explain what happened and beg for an extension.
However when he gets there he recognises a few of Barrett's men as the
very people who robbed him. Barrett's men torture him, burn his farm and
kill his parents but Ramon manages to escape and heads to town. When he
gets there he inadvertently saves the life of an aging bounty killer
called Django (Anthony Ghidra). Django takes pity on Ramon and takes him
into the hills where he teaches him how to be a gunfighter. Of course,
unbeknownst to Ramon, Django has actually come to town to perform a
hit... for Barrett and I'll give you one guess who it is?
The film is quite a low budget affair but it's all decently acted. George Eastman (who had roles in Hands of Steel, 2019: After the Fall of New York and Bronx Warriors)
is particularly great as Ramon. He does well to convey the slow
character change from naive farmer to deadly gunfighter that happens
over the course of the film. Anthony Ghidra is also good as the aging
and melancholic Django. The film is at its best when these two are on
screen. I really enjoyed the whole master and apprentice angle to the
story. It's set up very early on that Django and Ramon are going to have
a showdown at the end, so it gives all the lessons that Django teaches
an extra layer of doom-laden dramatic irony.
The run time is only just over 80 minutes so everything moves at a
very quick pace and there's no wasted scenes. Again, like a lot of
Spaghetti westerns, there's an interesting anti-American flavour to the
story. You have the evil white landowner Barrett essentially ordering
Ramon and his Mexican immigrant family to be removed from their farm
despite their legitimate claim to live there. It's never concretely
stated exactly why Barrett wants them removed, we just hear him say
during a poker game that with them gone he can now create "paradise" for
all the good white folk of the town.
The film isn't without its small share of problems though. The locations
are a little unconvincing and the score, though good, gets very
repetitive by the end. There's also a couple of logic gaps. It's never
completely explained why Barrett tells Django he has a job for him but
doesn't want to tell him the name of the target until the end of the month. It's seems
purely designed so that the audience can benefit from knowing where the
story is going. I would have preferred a little better explanation to
be given. Also, the final shootout between Django
and Ramon happens very quickly and is a little underwhelming. Given the
build up and all the lessons that are taught (count your bullets, make
sure there's always one in the chamber, don't face into the sun, watch
your enemies steps) I was hoping for a bit more a prolonged battle.
All in all, Django the Last Killer
is an earnest and worthwhile little western that is recommended to fans
of the genre looking for something to tackle after the more famous
films of the Spaghetti western genre. Like all Django rip-offs this was only made a Django
film during the dubbing process (the original version has Ghidra go by
the name Rezza) but let's ignore that because actually I think Django the Last Killer makes a far better follow-up to the original Django than the official one, Django Strikes Again. Check it out if you get a chance, there's full length copies easily found on both youtube and dailymotion.