Keoma AKA Django Rides Again AKA Desperado (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - CultFilms
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (12th December 2023).
The Film

Three seminal Cult Spaghetti Westerns in one definitive Collector’s Boxset + Artcards, all restored & first time on UK Blu-ray.


One of the greatest and most influential Spaghetti Westerns ever, Sergio Corbucci’s iconic masterpiece is revered by film critics and fans - none more so than Quentin Tarantino who declares the deep influence that Corbucci had on all his films.

Banned for decades, Corbucci’s ground-breaking ultra-violent western stars the legendary Franco Nero as Django, the mysterious lone gunslinger who - dragging a coffin behind him - arrives in a bleak, mud-drenched town where he’ll face two gangs of sadistic evil killers. Presented complete and uncut, from new 4K-restored elements - pristinely faithful to the original film vision.


Acknowledged as the genre swansong, this late Western masterpiece is directed by Enzo G. Castellari whom Tarantino calls his maestro and regards as a cinematic icon. Screen-legend Franco Nero reprises his relentless deadly gunslinger persona, now as the eponymous Keoma who, returning to his hometown, finds that it is now ruled by a gang of sadistic killers. Aided by an old friend (Woody Strode), Keoma fights the ruthless bunch to the bitter, last-man-standing, end. This gritty western is presented from 2K-restored vault materials, showcasing its iconic set-pieces and its striking action-cinematography as never before.


A covert US assassin is sent to kill a General who is one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution. He infiltrates a gang of guerrillas led by the charismatic El Chuncho (Gian Maria) with his lieutenants, the crazed priest (Klaus Kinski), and the beautiful Adelita (Martine Beswick). As the rebels go on a rampage stealing weapons, they unwittingly lead the assassin to the General. And the US agent has a bullet for him!

‘A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL’ established the politically imbued Zapata-Western genre; it is finally presented in superb high definition finally doing justice to its lavish widescreen cinematography and it is further elevated by the exuberant music from Oscar® Winner Ennio Morricone. Quoting Tarantino: 'A Bullet For The General' is one of the greatest Spaghetti Westerns ever made. I just love that movie’

Complementing this definitive boxset is a riveting on-screen tribute by Quentin Tarantino enthusing on the deep influence which Sergio Corbucci, the creator of Django, had on his entire career. In the feature-length piece, illustrated with never-seen film-set footage and many film clips, Tarantino explains how - whimsically - in his 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood', the fictional Hollywood cowboy actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio ends up working for the real Sergio Corbucci in Italy.


This rather wonderful set released by Cult Films in the UK contains four films, although one is an extra on the Django disc - the documentary Django & Django which I'm covering in the main video section of this review. Three aspect ratios are covered here:

Django (1966) 1.66:1

Having been banned in the UK in 1966, Django, one of THE .SEMINAL spaghetti westerns, didn't get a proper public airing until Alex Cox selected it for the BBC's Moviedrome, the much loved and missed film programme that was a must see between 1988-2000. Broadcast on BBC Two at 21:50 on Sunday August 1st 1993. As Cox noted, it was one of the rare pasta westerns lensed in the flat aspect 4-perf ratio (in this case, the European standard 1.66:1) rather than the favoured Techniscope 2-perf faux scope format (see below).

Django is preceded by a text screen:
The restoration of Django was made by the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and by Surf Film, from a 4K scan of the original camera negative and from the Italian sound negative. The restoration was carried out in 2018 at L'Immagine Ritrovata.
this 2018 restoration is impressive and still holds up well today, in fact it is also the basis of Cult Film's concurrent 4K UHD BD release which I will cover on Rewind soon.

Colours have always been very rich and warm with very distinct primaries, especially the red scarves worn by many characters in the film. Browns, especially the muddy town, come off very well with plenty of depth to the gradations of colour despite only being in standard dynamic range. Delineation is exceptional with no noticeable bleed. Black levels are especially strong with fine shadow detail and contrast is punchy but not blown out. Encoding is strong with plentiful filmic grain, fine detail across all focal planes and texture in the image expertly handled and there are no signs of digital tinkering that I could detect nor signs of age-related wear and tear. They just don't lens films like this any ore with such vivid and textured visual layering. Compare the films in this set with such dull, flat looking modern productions like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) for instance with its muddy dark scenes and flat occasional contrast.

Django & Django (2021) 1.78:1

A digitally lensed documentary about the late Sergio Corbucci by director Luca Rea that begins with a riveting account by Quentin Tarantino about how his fictional character Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) hets a gig working for Sergio Corbucci in his fine film Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood (2019). We have a wonderful credits sequence set to Ohio Express' "Chewy, Chewy" as we see vintage footage of life in Italy with Spaghetti western posters featuring heavily.

In addition to Tarantino, we have vintage interviews with Corbucci, new interviews with Django assistant director, the late Ruggero Deodato and Django himself, Franco Nero. Along the way we get plentiful clips from The Last Days of Pompeii (1959), Duel of Titans (1961), Minnesota Clay (1964), Django (1966), Navaho Joe (1966), The Mercenary (1968), The Great Silence (1968), The Specialists (1969), Compañeros (1970) and very briefly Django Unchained (2012). In amongst all this are behind the scenes clios from several Italian productions including material from the documentary Western, Italian Style (1968).

Image is as shart and clean as you'd expect despite being afforded a lower bitrate in the high teens (Django is in the mid thirties. However, it looks good with decent colour, well defined black levels and low key contrast.

A Bullet for the General (1966) 2.35:1 & Keoma (1976) 2.39:1

By way of explanation of the Techniscope format used on these two films, I'm quoting my 2018 review of Shameless' The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978). A quick note; Scope formats had settled down to 2.35:1 until when in 1971 they slightly changed to 2.39:1:
Before I discuss the image quality of this disc I need to mention the widescreen filming process called Techniscope. This was a cheaper alternative to genuine anamorphic Scope formats like Panavision. It was created by Technicolor Italia in the early 1960s to aid low budget productions.

Normal 35mm filming (both flat and widescreen anamorphic processes) used a frame of film that had 4 perforations (or sprocket holes) to the left and right of each single film frame. The anamorphic lens attached to the camera during filming would open up the image and squeeze a wider 2.39:1 image aspect ratio onto the frame (the normal dimensions of which would be 1.37:1 = Academy ratio or 4:3). During projection in cinemas a lens would be attached to the projector which would unsqueeze the image, giving the viewer the 2.39:1 widescreen experience on the big screen. Due to the special lens this was obviously a more expensive filming process but due to using the full frame of film (with 4 perforations), it offered a high quality image.

Techniscope was the cheaper alternative and cut each frame in half so only 2 perforations (=2-perf) were used and the native image in the frame would be 2.39:1 without any specialised lens needed. This meant you got a clean, undistorted 2.39:1 image (4-perf anamorphic lens curved the image on the extreme left and right of the frame). The downside is that the inherent definition of each frame was halved and thus looked grainer and rougher and softer especially when the frame was blown up for 35mm anamorphic projection in cinemas. Luckily when these films are prepared for home video formats they go back to the raw 2-perf negatives.
Both films shot in the above process look about as good as they can shy of 4K and HDR. A Bullet for the General was released in 1966 in the Scope ratio at that time of 2.35:1, Keoma was a decade later and by that time Scope was slightly wider at 2.39:1. The early film has a crisper, sharper style with a vivid colour palette of warm flesh tones and strong primaries; Keoma has a more filtered look typical of the mid-late '70s in Italian cinema. Black levels and contrast are as strong and supportive with anomalies of transfer woes; decent shadow detail and highlights.

With both one has to remember that you're watching an image half the size of a standard 35mm film shot flat so there is some slight softness and grain is courser. Detail, whilst not as striking as Django, is still satisfying lending the images surprising depth, especially in Bullet, but Keoma is no slouch either. As with Django, the encode is very good allowing both Scope productions to look filmic and textured with no signs of tinkering and print damage.

Grades: Django ('A+'); A Bullet for the General ('A'); Keoma ('A-'). Overall ('A').

1080p24 / AVC MPEG-4 / 3 x BD50:
Django (1.66:1) 92:07
Django & Django (1.78:1) 80:35
A Bullet for the General (2.35:1) 117:53
Keoma (2.35:1) 100:51


English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Django & Django
English / Italian / French LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)

Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz, 24-bit)
Subtitles: English (optional for Italian versions of Django, A Bullet for the General, Keoma and the Italian / French dialogue in Django & Django), English HoH (for English versions of Django, A Bullet for the General, Keoma)

The three vintage films were all shot silent with a crude guide track to aid in the production of soundtracks in post production, so whichever choice one takes these films are dubbed. As a result fidelity to lip movements is always likely to be loose. Django was shot in Italian, so the Italian dub fits the film best; the other two were shot in English on set and are best viewed with the English dub. All of the tracks are strong for what they are and will never be as pin sharp as films shot with production sound. There are minor artefacts of this style of production so mild hiss, occasional sibilance issues but overall they're all much of a muchness ('A-').

The modern, digitally lens documentary has crustal sharp sound albeit basic stereo with no surround unless one plays it through ProLogic II (etc) and then some modest surround activity can be heard (mainly score separation). It's a loud, vivid track and a fine example of it's type ('A').

Subtitles in English are provided for the Italian tracks on the westerns but only for non-English dialogue in the doc. Hard of hearing English subs are present for the films, but alas, not the doc. All are comprehensive and well done. I noticed no errors or missed dialogue on the sections I tested.

Overall ('A-')


2004 introduction to Django by Alex Cox (12:35)
2004 introduction to A Bullet for the General by Alex Cox (7:07)
"Alex Cox Presents - Keoma" 2022 featurette using a 2004 introduction (5:33)

Upscaled vintage material (totalling 25:15) featuring the inimitable Cox who is also well worth listening to, as anyone who ever saw Moviedrome will attest. He knows his stuff, is has strong, occasionally controversial opinions and gives us a nice précis of careers of those discussed and the production of the films. Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with English LPCM 2.0 stereo (48kkhz, 24-bit).

2004 interview with Franco Nero (12:38)
2004 interview with Damiano Damiani (17:31)
"An Interview with Director Enzo G. Castellari" 2022 featurette using a vintage interview (15:50)
2022 featurette using a vintage interview with editor Gianfranco Amicucci (37:39)
"Westerns and Crime Flicks: The Films of Enzo G. Castellari" 2022 interview* (29:42)
"Django and Me with Ruggero Deodato" 2021 interview* (20:20)

A slew (totalling 133:40 across all three discs) of fine interviews, some vintage and upscaled others in full HD*. Lots of ground concerning pasta westerns is covered here with the emphasis obviously on the three films in the set. Presented in 1080p24 1.78:1 with English LPCM 2.0 stereo (48khz, 24-bit). Most are in Italian with optional English subtitles.

Start-up Trailers:
- Django (1:18)
- Keoma (1:38)
- A Bullet for the General (1:29)

Each film has trailers for the other two (Django has Keoma and A Bullet for the General for instance) and they play upon loadup. Presented in 1080p24 1.66:1, 2.35:1 and 2.39:1 with English LPCM 2.0 stereo (48kkhz, 24-bit).

A double-sided sleeve with disc contents, film credits and an introduction from Franco Nero on the reverse.
Three postcards featuring key art on both sides

What it says on the tin, the cards are nice and rigid with decent image reproduction.


Comes in a Keepcase holding all three discs with a slim outer card slipcase.


A fine collection of three classic Spaghetti westerns with strong image and sound. Extras are very good although there's plenty missing from other releases, so if you're big fan, don't go dumping those old discs yet. Highly recommended ('A-').

The Film: B+ Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: B+ Overall: A-


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