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A town called Redemption, in the old west, isn't big enough for two hot-shot gunslingers so mad John Herod (Gene Hackman) calls in all the crack shots from miles around to enter a deadly knockout tournament for a mouth-watering prize. One contestant he seems keen to eliminate is preacherman Cort (Russell Crowe) but female gunslinger Ellen (Sharon Stone) saves his life.
As the contest progresses and the rising bodycount embraces all the dispensable characters - including Herod's cocky son (Leonardo DiCaprio) - the reasons for the enmity between Herod and Cort and between Herod and Ellen become apparent.
Whizzkid director Sam Raimi's return to form didn't come too soon but it came with a bang in this deliriously crazy bloodfest. Glorying in the sheer squalor of a two-bit western town, Raimi makes the most of the well-sauced dialogue by the English playwright, screenwriter and sometime director Simon Moore. And his shooting style is dazzling in its self-advertising ambition (cinematographer Dante Spinotti). The town clock serves as punctuation mark as Hackman's iron rules are played out remorselessly. The bodycount is high but the way Raimi eliminates his victims is pure grandstanding stuff.