Soleil rouge or Red Sun is an intriguing film simply for its cast if nothing else, director Terence Young pairing together the one and only Charles Bronson, Japanese stalwart Toshirō Mifune and bombshell Ursula Andress. Each one separate from the other makes any movie they appear in eminently watchable and together, make this film something definitely not to be missed. Whoever was responsible for the idea of bringing them together did a fantastic job of it and seeing them on the screen in this picture of honour and stolen gold is truly captivating.
It all comes together after the moment Bronson and his friends, including partner Alain Delon, rob a train and when Delon who plays Gauche gets a little greedy, that is when Mifune steps in. Mifune plays Kuroda Jubei, a man who serves the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and a man who swears to return the sword that Gauche has stolen. Doing that requires teaming up with Bronson’s Link Stuart who was left for dead and essentially double-crossed. Along the way, the two encounter many trials and tribulations, most of them derived from their cultural differences and the lack of trust between the two. It is not long though before each of them comes to respect the other and trust is built. Factor in villain Gauche and his prostitute girlfriend Cristina and things close out as one might expect, though not quite.
One could say that Bronson and Mifune outdo the original Odd Couple, the two being so completely different both in real life and the film and yet with both of them having been in so many pictures previously, they make all of it seem completely natural. Being a spaghetti western of sorts, it would have been just a bit more interesting if the two leads had let their facial expressions do a little more of the talking for them, each being able to tell a story so naturally that words are essentially unnecessary while lending a bit of weight to their performances. Despite Bronson being somewhat of a bad guy, the real villain of the piece is Gauche, Delon bringing the man to life perfectly, sly and smarmy when trying to be friendly and all business when facing down an enemy. When it comes to Andress, as much as she would add to the visual aspect of the movie as tearing one’s eyes away from her would at times prove hard to do, the woman seducing the camera as much as the audience she was not especially needed.
There is a lot of good action present, a bit of comedy and drama but most of the film relies upon the relationship between the two men and that is what keeps people watching more than anything else. There is some good cinematography though the picture would have benefitted with a little bit of concentration upon the landscape that they were travelling through and the music, while decent, could have been punched up just a little to be a little more integral to it all. Very minor faults aside, if one could even call them that, Red Sun is a western not to be missed for any fan of the genre.
4 out of 5