Adios Amigo/Review

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< Adios Amigo

"Snoozin'!...Crawlin'!...Draggin'!" would make for a better tagline for Fred Williamson's follow up to the broad success of Boss Nigger (1975). The film begins with a nondescript fight scene ending with a white rancher calling off the sheriff and offering to pay for the damages. He then takes Williamson's (Big Ben's) aggressors to the side and offers them $100 each to visit a parcel of land outside of town to steal horses from Big Ben in an effort "run all the black off of that land."

Once the deed is done, Ben returns to the office of the rancher to confront his robbers. After a brief anti-climactic gun fight, Ben is knocked in the head. Cut to the scene of Ben in handcuffs being loaded onto a stage coach and delivered to a jail down trail to serve two years for attempted armed robbery. Outside of town, Sam (Richard Pryor) has set up an ambush to rob the stage. He releases Ben in the process, but leaves him afoot to fend for himself.

One would think, the story would return to the town and the rancher although what transpires is a string of disjointed encounters between Sam and Ben in which Ben is always left holding some sort of "bag." Are they friends? Partners? No one knows. The film never really sets up a context. Billed as a comedy, the funny never really happens with the exception of a few forced chuckles.

While Williamson held landmark roles both before and after this film, his presence in Adios Amigo is laborious. Amigo was Williamson's second run as director behind Mean Johnny Barrows, released in the same year. Fred "The Hammer" Williamson would round out 1976 directing and starring in two additional low budget crime/action flicks with No Way Back and Death Journey.

Richard Pryor was at the top of his game in the comedy world by 1976. Although he was no stranger to the screen, his comedic acting had not quite kicked in as it later would in the early 1980s with films such Bustin' Loose and Stir Crazy to name a few. It's rumored that the majority of Pryor's lines were ad-libbed for Adios Amigo; combined with Williamson's ad-libbed direction this film plays to a confusing theme with very little action. Williamson's role displays a certain discomfort with being on both sides of the camera and the majority of the scenes clash with very little transition or set up in between. Pryor's Sam leaves Big Ben hanging so many times throughout the film that he just looks like a dick in the end. The "buddy" movie can only work with some display of loyalty between the characters.

Other style issues affecting this film is the constant reinsertion of the title track along with artist rendered title cards between each scene, which makes the entire movie play out in what seems like an endless series of intros. It's confusing at first, and then it just gets annoying.

The good news is that both Williamson's and Pryor's careers were not hinged on the success of this film. For die-hard fans of "The Hammer" there are many better examples of Williamson at work. Adios Amigo is recommended only for the completist.

Reviewed by Texploited

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