Blu-ray Review: Three Amigos

Three Amigos Blu-raySTUDIO: HBO/Warner | DIRECTOR: John Landis | CAST: Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Alfonso Arau, Joe Mantegna
BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE: 11/22/2011 | PRICE: Blu-ray $14.98
BONUSES: archival interview, additional footage
SPECS: PG | 105 min. | Comedy western adventure | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

A quarter of a century on, John Landis’ comedy movie (National Lampoon’s Animal House) ¡Three Amigos!, starring Steve Martin (It’s Complicated), Chevy Chase (Caddyshack) and Martin Short (TV’s Damages), remains a one-joke movie, but it’s still a likable-enough, large-scale entertainment. And in the movie’s well-deserved Blu-ray incarnation, celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary, the joke looks and sounds better than it ever has before.

Three Amigos movie sceneThe movie tells of a trio of silent film “heroes”  heading down to Mexico for what they think is a personal appearance, but it turns out to be a mission to save a remote village from a gang of gunslinging bad guys.

It’s a handsome-looking piece of work. Filled with all the ingredients found in a western adventure — expansive desert scenery (filmed outside of Tuscon), a creaky period town, horses, villagers, banditos and lots of period color — Three Amigos was one of only two feature films shot by the late Ronald W. Brown, who’s best known for his television work on such shows as Mission: Impossible and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. (His other movie was the forgettable 1973 adventure Trader Horn.)

One thing’s for sure: Brown would be thrilled to see how great Three Amigos looks in the high-definition Blu-ray. With a new transfer overseen by Landis, the film looks simply stunning. A sweet palette of colors brings a rich razzle-dazzle to the brightly lit exterior scenes and backdrops, while the details are so crisp that one can discern every rhinestone stud on the Amigos’ flamboyant costumes. And the banditos, led by the hysterically dastardly “El Guapo” (Alfonso Arau), have never looked filthier.

The Blu-ray’s audio upgrade is also sterling, with Elmer Bernstein’s orchestral score booming with energy and happily calling to mind his similarly rousing compositions for the classic westerns The Magnificent Seven and The Sons of Katie Elder.

Of the modest selection of bonus features on the disc, the 20 minutes of deleted scenes will interest fans the most. Trimmed from the film right before it was released and presented on the Blu-ray in high-definition, they’re led by an alternate opening scene, a sequence that finds the Amigos in their Hollywood mansion and on the studio backlot (where they amble past other films in production), and an extended bit where they’re fired by studio chief Joe Mantegna.

There’s also a sorta cute promotional interview with the three stars recorded back in 1986. It’s presented in standard definition, but that’s okay as the important thing on this Blu-ray is that movie itself looks and sounds so damned good. And the price is right for those on the fence about ditching their old DVD copy for this way, way better version.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.