Man Called Blade, A / Mannaja (1977)

2.5 out of 5

A mysterious bounty hunter called Blade arrives in the mud caked town of Suttonville and offers his services to the wealthy, wheelchair bound McGowan, who runs the silver mine and controls the town along with his scheming henchman, Voller. It's later learned that Blade has an old debt to settle with the town dictator and his cohorts.

Sergio Martino, like a number of his contemporaries, successfully dabbled in various genres. This was his second western behind Arizona Colt Returns, 1970. Bearing a 'Doom & Gloom' atmosphere akin to Michele Lupo's California from the same year, Martino's movie is a less engrossing oater and possibly the least interesting of these films from the last days of the genre.

Maurizio Merli, both praised and chastized for his modern day crime opuses, altered his persona around this time in those movies and experimented further by starring in this revenge tale where he plays an axe tossing bounty killer which is virtually interchangeable from any of the other 'talk less, more action' style of anti hero.

Saddled with a weak ending, Blade has late 70s style violence and gore, a richly Gothic atmosphere that recalls 'horror westerns' such as The Great Silence and also harkens back to the brutal look and feel of Django from a decade prior. Merli looks good in his hired 'gun' garb and his loyal fans are likely the main audience that will appreciate this film the most.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics