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Legend of Hells Gate [Import]

Eric Balfour , Lou Taylor Pucci , Tanner Beard    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 22.33 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Product Description

The story of how 'Hell's Gate' at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas came to have it's name. Relive the story of how three outlaws expeditions and encounters through historical 1870s Texas were remembered for a lifetime.

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1.0 out of 5 stars No favorite Nov. 18 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie altho based on a historical happening I will not keep in my video library as it had many
weakness's ranging from disjointed parts to poor acting at times and I would say poor direction.
The modern western seldom rises to the level of the westerns before 1980. This is one more example. Jon
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.9 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One and 1/2 Stars: Curious Failure for So Many Familiar Faces July 16 2012
By E. Lee Zimmerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
You're not going to find a bigger fan (on Amazon) for any studio bringing back the Western than I am, but vanity projects like THE LEGEND OF HELL'S GATE will probably do little to bring new fans to the classic oater. I love `em, through and through, because I think that they're (largely) the only truly original form of American storytelling. While I'd love to see more and more of them released theatrically, I certainly understand that the dynamics of Hollywood accounting make producing them fairly costly these days. Still, I'll embrace any of them, even one so curiously flawed as is HELL'S GATE.

By appearances, THE LEGEND OF HELL'S GATE is meant to tell the story of the fabled Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas. While it clearly establishes something took place that led up to its name, what the viewer is left with is mostly a mishmash of vignettes strung together by the weakest narrative I've ever seen in a Western - a genre that's usually rich with peoples of immense character and symbolism too vivid to escape detection. Instead, the film delivers a handful of scenes artfully photographed, but these characters seem to have very little basis in reality. Who knows? Maybe they've all been drawn from `legend'! (insert `rimshot' here)

Unfortunately, the main story doesn't begin until 45 minutes into the feature, and therein lies the biggest problem at the heart of HELL'S GATE. In order for anyt audience to appreciate any film, there has to either be (A) characters you can identify with or (B) a very clearly establish narrative with a discernible beginning, middle, and end. For the record, HELL'S GATE has neither until the 45 minute mark, and I'm strongly inclined to believe the writer/director Tanner Beard realized this when all that he shot came into the editing suite.

Why do I think so?

Because at that point someone (maybe it was Mr. Beard) concocted the bright idea to take a sequence from later in the film and tack it on to the beginning (it "sets up" the characters only visually, and it repeats later so as to "cement" the story) yet, at the beginning, it's given absolutely no context. So, as it stands, the film begins with people running and racing about a forest, carrying bags of something that's entirely unknown. Are they villains? They're being shot at. Are they our heroes? We're never told. Stylistically, this is like reading a book and having the author - for no explainable reason - take Chapter 07 out of the novel and, instead, re-label it as Chapter 01, while then also leaving it intact AS Chapter 07. Who are these characters? What are they doing? Why have they not been established? That's what happens here, which is an astounding disappointment. Seriously, I found that the first 45 minutes made very little sense UNTIL the film is viewed as a whole, and that's a dementedly flawed idea, whoever came up with it.

That's only part of what I found so disappointing about the narrative. While the film was chocked full of familiar faces from TV and motion pictures, these characters are given little more than a few convenient `beats' to act on. They're never clearly defined. Some of them are incidental - they turn up, and then they're gone without a moment's notice OR explanation. While others found this an interesting moment from history, I kept struggling with the context: why are we being shown these events? Why are there so many familiar names from wild West history (Abe Lincoln, John Booth, Doc Holliday), and what's their grand connection? And - for a film subtitled "The American Conspiracy" - I saw very little mystery or even mildly `conspiring' for that matter ... so what's up with that subtext, Tanner?

Sorry, but, outside of some excellent production values, this pistol fired one big dud.

THE LEGEND OF HELL'S GATE was produced by 4Go West Productions, Flatiron Pictures, and Phase 4 Films. DVD distribution is being handled by Lionsgate. The disc looks and sounds as well as it could, and there's a handful of respectable special features for anyone seriously interested in exploring it more. Not for me.

RECOMMENDED WITH STRONG RESERVATIONS. The essential problem I had with a film named THE LEGEND OF HELL'S GATE is that I see absolutely no basis for there to be any legend associated to HELL'S GATE or the people depicted in it. In fact, there's nothing `legendary' about it in the slightest. Excellent production qualities get overshadowed by the slim pickings of a story that's hatcheted together on a narrative that, at times, defies logic. It looks good, but, as an oater, it lacks ... well ... it lacks oats.

POST-SCRIPT: And, just for the record, there's a stunningly horribly tracking shot very early in the film where the camera comes across a homestead that's been decimated by fire. I believe the tracking shot is actually a combination of two separate tracks, and, frankly, it's just horrible. It's a herky-jerky shot so poorly done it really doesn't even qualify to be called 'amateurish.' It shouldn't have been included in the motion picture; yes, it's that bad. I'm stunned that the rest of the picture looks so well; in fact, that's the only reason I'm giving the flick any recommendation at all. Technically, it's very impressive, but otherwise it's a failure.

In the interest of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Lions Gate provided me with a DVD screener copy of THE LEGEND OF HELL'S GATE by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Legend of Hell's Gate May 24 2012
By linda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I and my spouse totally enjoyed this film when we first saw it at the Dallas International Film Festival over a year ago. We think it is a fine historical/action/western with just the right amount of humor in it. Tanner Beard (writer/actor/director) did his research well and used the proper weapons and clothing for the time. I thought the acting in it was superb and Glenn Morshower had a great part in it. The only disagreement I have is about the cover art for the DVD. The character on horseback, in the center, never did have a rifle and none of the three desperodoes had a horse except Eric Balfour--in the beginning of the movie. All in all, I think it is worth viewing if the person is interested in a western dealing with Texas in the 1870's. And the stories in this film are all based off of true legends/events.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FIRES OF HELL MIXED WITH WATER OF HEAVEN June 23 2012
By The Movie Guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The first thing you notice is the sound track. It combines the classic western style with an upbeat Celtic tune. The story follows two men (Eric Balfour, Henry Thomas) who were the lesser of the criminals in a notorious gang. When a bar robbery goes awry, these two Irish men manage to escape into post Civil War near-anarchy run Texas. When a posse comes looking for them, they reluctantly accept the help of Kelly (Lou Taylor Pucci) a local small time criminal, jack of all trades in order to escape.

The story intersects with true historical figures in almost a "Forrest Gump" fashion. These include Doc Holiday, Jesse James, Texas merchant W.H. "Pete" Snyder, Comanche chief Quanah Parker, buffalo hunter J. Wright Mooar, and a Shakespeare quoting bartender who claimed to be John Wilkes Booth.

Decent acting and script. Enjoyable pseudo-history western.

Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity. Prostitutes, couple (clothed) in bed after presumed sex.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't even watch it through Aug. 29 2013
By M. Verber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Anyone who knows me knows that I can watch some pretty bad movies and enjoy them. This movie was unwatchable. Choppy editing, horrible cinematograpy (dark dark dark - I'm sure there were things going on that I just couldn't see) and just a confused mess. Who's a good guy? Who's a bad guy? Who cares if they all get shot. Allowing for the suspension of belief - there is no way you can run with a pillowcase full of gold that seems like it is full of cotton candy. That would be really heavy guys not flopping around all poofy. Sigh.

On the other hand, costuming and sets were spot on. Beautifully done and other than the fluffy pillowcases, it was perfect. If it had been in a movie with a plot that could be followed without a road map it would have been magnificent. It may be a great film, where everything comes together in the end and a lot of the mish mash makes sense but I literally could not bring myself to watch the whole thing and that has never happened to me befor.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love seeing a new western! June 11 2012
By SRV - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I saw this movie at a screening in Los Angeles. The creator of this movie is a super talented young guy, Tanner Beard. I think he is like a young Texas Orson Welles as he wrote, starred, directed, edited and produced this movie. It is an ambitious undertaking and he did a great job. The visuals are pure Texas. The acting supports the storyline (which is ambitious) and I just enjoyed the end result so much. Henry Thomas is stunning in his role, looks the part and acts it. Glenn Morshower has a nice turn in this as does Lou Taylor Pucci. But for my money Kevin Alejandro is one of the high points of the film. he disappears into his role so much you don't even recognize him. Very fun movie!
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