In the course of writing these columns, the Last Action Heroes have watched many a movie. However, during a recent visit to the discount DVD rack at Best Buy, it dawned on us that there was one action-packed genre we had been neglecting: the western. This was the category that invented the shoot-em up, after all. That's when we came across Young Guns II, featuring the star-studded ensemble of Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips and Christian Slater.
This fine piece of cinema begins with an old man attempting to prove to Bradley Whitford (who I think is supposed to be a lawyer or something) he is the legendary "Billy the Kid." In attempt to back up his silly, old man claims, he tells him a story.
Cue the flashback!
The plotline in this one is pretty simple. "Billy the Kid," played by Estevez, rescues his gang from imprisonment and they try to escape to Mexico while being pursued by the law. In this case, though, the long arm of the law is their former friend Pat Garrett. Anyway, a bunch of people get shot, among them Kiefer, LDP and apparently Estevez. Oh, and here's the brilliant part: we never do find out whether or not the old man was indeed William H. Bonney. They leave us hanging. How clever. Yet, somehow this movie is one of The Badger Herald Managing Editor Jake Leonard's all-time favorites.
Oh, I would be remiss if I did not mention the soundtrack to Young Guns II is by Jon Bon Jovi, featuring the single Blaze of Glory.
How can you go wrong with such a star-studded cast?
The opening scene of the movie features five kills, four of which can be attributed to William H. Bonney, a.k.a. "Billy the Kid" or Emilio Estevez. The Kid doesn't mess around the rest of the way, racking up a Van Damme-like 26 overall kills. There are no massive explosions or Universal Soldier-like guns in this movie, but you will find an abundance of offbeat action.
For instance, Christian Slater drives a foot-long knife through the arm of Lou Diamond Phillips during a fight that ensued after Slater decimated ancient Indian burial grounds. LDP is a Mexican Indian, which seems to get him in trouble throughout the movie. The rest of the movie includes scenes where Billy's gang drives their horses down a steep hillside injuring the four horseman and "Billy the Kid" escaping a 30-something guard with the intellect and intelligence of a third grader.
Kiefer Sutherland plays "Doc" Scurlock. Personally, I think Sutherland is way more badass than Emilio Estevez and would have been a better choice as "The Kid." But, then again, Emilio did drive his limousine on the ice in Mighty Ducks. That takes some stones.
While imprisoned, Sutherland and Lou Diamond are referred to as Billy's "regulators." Umm, Nate Dogg and Warren G they are not. I can hear Kiefer right now: "Just hit the East Side of the LBC/On a mission tryin' to find Mr. LDP."
Mount up indeed.
Also in the gang is Christian Slater, who plays "Arkansas Dave" Rudabaugh. Alright, I can buy that. Christian seems like an outlaw. After all, Will Scarlett was once arrested for assault with a deadly weapon when he kicked a police officer with his cowboy boots.
I also enjoyed the minor roles given to Whitford, Viggo Mortensen and Richard Schiff. Apparently the casting rule of thumb for Young Guns II was "the better the actor, the lesser the role." I'm pretty certain a vice versa can be added on to that.
Lou Diamond lives up to his Extreme Justice legend by tallying only three kills. Of course, that is three times the number of kills he dished out in Extreme Justice. Perhaps there is a reason for the increase in kills from Extreme Justice compared to Young Guns II.
In 1986, Lou Diamond married the voluptuous Julie Cypher. Four years later, Cypher left LDP for legendary rocker Melissa Etheridge. That's right. Lou Diamond Phillips' first wife divorced him for another woman. What could be so bad about being married to LDP that would drive another woman into the realm of lesbianism? We don't know the answer, but we do know that it was likely the reason why Lou Diamond went on a killing spree in Young Guns. In fact, he almost killed one of his own posse after they decimated Apache burial grounds.
When Extreme Justice came around in 1993, LDP had settled into a comfortable relationship with Kelly Phillips. The relationship seemed to mellow LDP and locked him into a more Richard Gere-like kill count in Extreme Justice and all other subsequent action flicks. It seems that if you divorce LDP for a woman, you cause him to double or even triple his kill count in movies. On the other hand, if you marry him and bear three of his children, then you make him the Hispanic version of Richard Gere.
Finally, we have Emilio Estevez as "Billy the Kid." Estevez was about as badass as Alan Ruck was in this film. Imagine Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off trying to kick some ass and beatdown some thugs. It's not going to happen. The incessant giggling towards the end of the movie by Estevez pulled him closer to the crazy rapist in The Green Mile than it did to any close semblance to the ultimate badass of old times "Billy the Kid."
Alright, this was not a good movie. What in the heck happened? Perhaps the acting prowess of Lou Diamond Phillips, a.k.a. Louis Upchurch, was just too much for me. I was also hoping to see a lot more kills by the gang of mediocre actors. Sutherland only shot one guy before Viggo killed him! Thus, I am awarding Young Guns II two Chuck Norris's and a bonus Jake Leonard because the script could not have been any more indiscernible at times if he had written it himself.
I applaud the outpouring of violence from Lou Diamond in this movie, but can't stand the lack of any discernable ending and the childish touch put on one of the ultimate true-life badasses of all time in "Billy the Kid." Thus, I award Young Guns II three Lou Diamond Phillips.