Return of Sabata (1972)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Spaghetti Western  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Germany , France , Italy   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Donald Guarisco

The third and final Sabata film brings Lee Van Cleef back to the title role and also deals out a series of eccentric characters and trick weaponry that fit the mood of the prior two films nicely. Sadly, Return of Sabata falls prey to the principle of diminishing returns; the film boasts some impressive stylistic flourishes and some novel plot hooks (especially Sabata's specially-designed trick pistols) but it follows the plots of its predecessors too closely. Indeed, the plot of Return of Sabata follows the template of the plots of Sabata and Adios Sabata to the letter: Sabata wanders into a shady town where a hidden fortune is at stake, he allies himself with a motley crew of conspirators that include a potential traitor and it all culminates in a barrage of twists and gimmicky action scenes. This would be tolerable if Return of Sabata was a tight, consistent affair, but unfortunately it falls prey to the same flaws of its predecessors, namely erratic pacing and the fact that it runs a good ten minutes longer than it needs to. As a result, Return of Sabata never rises above the status of a mediocre programmer. Spaghetti Western buffs may want to give the film a look for its clever action scenes and Van Cleef's witty, confident performance as the mysterious hero, but Return of Sabata is ultimately too derivative and overlong to pass muster as general-audience fare.