"They're down on their luck and up to their necks in senoritas, margaritas, banditos and bullets!".

Mexico, 1916. Pretty Carmen (Patrice Martinez) runs to her neighbouring town's square with her son Rodrigo (Philip Gordon) in tow. They make their way hastily to the nearest saloon where a rowdy rabble of miscreants sit drink tequila.

Carmen clears her throat and explains to the bar that her nearby village is being terrorised by a crime overlord called El Guapo (Alfonso Arau). She begs for any of the outlaws before her to help; they laugh in response.

Fleeing the saloon, Carmen and Rodrigo are then drawn to the adjacent church, where a silent movie is being projected. The film tells of three heroic gunslingers - known as the Three Amigos - who save the day in situations very similar to Carmen's. After ridding villages of their tormentors, they don't even accept payment for doing so. Carmen knows what she must do: write to these guys, based in somewhere unknown to her called Hollywood, and beg for her help.

Alas, Carmen only has 10 pesos to spend on her telegram, and so her message is abbreviated to the point that it reads as if she simply wants the Amigos to come and perform a show at her village, for a princely fee of 100,000 pesos (a fee she's sure they'll waiver).

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, the Amigos - prima donna actors Lucky (Steve Martin), Ned (Martin Short) and Dusty (Chevy Chase) - are busy being lambasted by their producer Harry (Joe Mantegna) for their last film's failing at the box office. The boys decide to haggle for a bigger paycheck on their next production regardless, and are promptly sacked.

What better time for a telegram offering a fortune for staging a simple-sounding show in Mexico to land in their laps? Naturally, the lads take on the offer - stealing their ludicrous Amigos costumes from Harry's studios in preparation.

In no time at all, our intrepid trio have found their way to Mexico. By the time they reach the aforementioned saloon bar, a German acquaintance of El Guapo's has already terrified the locals with his sharpshooting skills - and warned that he has three friends coming into town soon to join him, who are even more deadly than he is. Naturally, the locals think Ned, Lucky and Dusty are the three the German speaks of. Due to the language barrier, the Amigos assume the locals cower from them purely because they are starstruck.

And so, the Amigos meet up with Carmen and, still oblivious to the true nature of their visit, enjoy the adulation with which they're received. When the German three outlaw buddies arrive, the Amigos assume their confrontational stance is all a part of the act ... and inadvertently scare them off by theatrically firing blanks into thin air. Carmen and co are elated: their saviours have arrived.

As you can imagine, panic ensues when the pampered movie stars realise the very real danger they're in. But do these guys have the resolve to rise to the plate when required? Will they stick around to save Carmen's village - for real - and waive their fee if successful?

Taking its cues from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (itself a Western riff on THE SEVEN SAMURAI), THREE AMIGOS! was sent to us for review by 101 Films. It may seem like a odd title choice for SexGoreMutants at first, but for many of us we fondly remember the halcyon days of renting videos in the 1980s - and cult appeal of this 1986 comedy lies therein.

It's an amiable romp featuring three of American comedy's biggest stars of the time. And it's directed by none other than John Landis (AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON; INTO THE NIGHT; INNOCENT BLOOD etc).

There's an innocence to proceedings which feels quaint by today's standards. The sight gags are almost twee in their delivery (the Amigos bursting into tears upon discovering their "show" is for real, is a highlight) while the one-liners are free from profanity or smut.

Martin, Short and Chase certainly bring charisma to the fold, while Martinez is definitely easy on the eye. Landis keeps the action ticking over at an agreeable pace while the affable script - co-written by Martin, composer Randy Newman (a handful of his songs are employed throughout) and co-producer Lorne Michaels - knows to never unduly challenge its audience.

There are interesting supporting roles too, from the likes of Mantegna, Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman. There's even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance from Brinke Stevens, during the early silent movie footage.

I've used the words "amiable" and "affable" above. It's difficult not to like THREE AMIGOS! because it is both of these things. It's good-natured. But, in truth, it's also not very funny. This genteel humour is more likely to either make people groan or smile politely. I fall into the latter group. As much as I enjoyed the film, I want to laugh out loud when watching a comedy.

101 Films bring THREE AMIGOS! to UK blu-ray. The film is presented uncut (102 minutes and 46 seconds), complete with the original Orion opening logo, and in its correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The 16x9 picture gets the benefit of full 1080p HD treatment, in a nicely sized MEG4-AVC file. Colours are warm, flesh tones are true and detail is finely rendered in this clean, vibrant transfer. Close-up scenes are especially impressive, while the heightened, noise-free definition at times makes it blindingly obvious when sets have been utilised to stand in for locations.

English audio comes in an evenly balanced 2.0 DTS-HD mix. No complaints here.

There are no bonus features on the disc. HBO released the film on US blu-ray and that release contains 5 minutes of interviews plus 19 minutes of deleted scenes. It is, however, locked to region A.

The static main menu page here simply offers a "Play" option. Although there is no scene selection menu, the film does have 8 chapters.

THREE AMIGOS! is a likeable, polite comedy from one of our favourite directors. It looks good on 101 Films' blu-ray.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by 101 Films
Region B
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review