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John Landis
Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short
Writing Credits:
Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels, Randy Newman

Three actors accept an invitation to a Mexican village to perform their onscreen bandit fighter roles, unaware that it is the real thing.


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 1.0
French DTS 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 11/22/11

• 1986 Cast Interview
• Deleted Scenes
• Booklet


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¡Three Amigos! [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 23, 2020)

Back in 1986, ¡Three Amigos! looked like a surefire comedy hit. With stars Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short in front of the camera and successful director John Landis behind it, the film seemed destined to rake in the bucks.

Alas, this didn’t happen. While not a flop, Amigos took in an uninspiring $39 million in the US, a figure that meant it landed in a mediocre 24th place for the year.

I recall I felt disappointment when I saw Amigosback then, as the aforementioned cast and crew promised me a better movie than I got. Nearly 35 years later, it seems like time for a reappraisal.

Set in 1916, bandits led by El Guapo (Alfonso Arau) terrorize the small Mexican town of Santa Poco. Desperate for help, the locals send a telegram to request the aide of the “Three Amigos”, a group of heroes that includes Lucky Day (Martin), Dusty Bottoms (Chase) and Ned Nederlander (Short)

However, the villagers don’t know that the Amigos are really silent film actors – recently unemployed thespians at that. When the Amigos get the message, they think they’ve been offered a performance gig, so they accept.

This leads them to Mexico, where they learn the truth of their job. The Amigos get to know the locals and decide how to deal with their situation.

That plot bears an unmistakable resemblance to the classic Western The Magnificent Seven, another film in which desperate villagers tormented by bandits recruit outsiders to fight for them. I don’t know if Landis and company admitted this influence back in 1986, but I’d feel shocked if they denied it.

Amigos actually reminds me more of a later film, though, as it connects more closely to 1998’s A Bug’s Life. Also a riff on Magnificent Seven - and/or that film’s source, The Seven Samurai - Life and Amigos share one important similarity: show business folks who sign up as “protectors” under mistaken circumstances.

While here we get movie stars, Bug’s Life presents circus performers. This theme didn’t come from Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven, and I suspect the folks at Pixar lifted the notion from Amigos.

Though this adds to the derivative nature of Bug’s Life, it offers a much superior film to the mediocre Amigos. I’ve always loved Life, whereas my 2020 impressions of Amigos remain unchanged since 1986.

Not that this means I view Amigos as a bad movie, for it manages decent entertainment across its 102 minutes. I like that it brings its own twist on the Samurai/Seven narrative, and it manages moderate amusement.

However, I still feel that “moderate amusement” seems like a lackluster achievement for a movie with so much talent involved. Cast and crew do enough to keep us engaged, but we never find ourselves more invested than that.

Our three leads don’t stretch their skills here. Martin, Chase and Short all essentially play the same kinds of characters we’d seen many times, and none of them wring anything fresh out of their roles.

I don’t think any of them flop, but they never really connect as a trio. All three feel like they’re in different movies, and they show little chemistry together.

The film offers some solid performances in small roles, as we see Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, and Joe Mantegna in one early scene. Unfortunately, they disappear quickly and don’t add much to the tale.

Amigos fares best when it embraces its surreal side. For instance, when the Amigos go on a quest, they seek a Singing Bush and an Invisible Swordsman. These scenes develop inspired silliness that shows the film’s true potential.

Alas, the moment quickly passes, and too much of the film feels vaguely uninspired. Though consistently watchable, Amigos lacks great spark and creativity.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

¡Three Amigos! appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A mix of ups and downs, this became an inconsistent transfer.

Most of the image’s problems stemmed from inconsistent grain management. While the movie showed grain, it could feel stiff and artificial, like the movie got scrubbed and then had “fake grain” added.

The use of noise reduction left a plastic feel to parts of the image, especially during interiors. Outside daylight shots seemed fairly good, but bars and other indoor elements came with the smeared feel typical of movies that suffer from too much grain removal.

Overall definition seemed fairly good overall, though. Enough of the movie took place in daylight that it managed to offer a reasonably appealing impression in terms of accuracy.

However, edge haloes created some distractions. These never seemed heavy, but they popped up through the film.

Amigos lacked moiré effects or jagged edges, and print flaws remained minor. I saw occasional small specks but nothing much.

Colors went with a semi-arid feel to match the desolate Mexican setting, and the hues seemed appropriately rendered. Reds from costumes boasted nice punch and added to the movie’s impact.

Blacks felt mostly deep and dark, while low-light shots brought adequate clarity. Though the image came with some strengths, its weaknesses left it no better than a “C”.

At least the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack held up better, as it seemed pretty good for its era. Though the soundfield didn’t bring tremendous breadth, the material added to the movie.

Mostly action scenes used the surrounds to flesh out the material. These created a moderately lively setting and gave us a good feel for the settings.

Quieter sequences brought decent environmental information, and music showed nice stereo imaging. Nothing about the soundfield dazzled, but given the film’s vintage, the soundscape seemed appealing.

Audio quality also worked well, with speech that came across as natural and concise. Music offered appropriate range and clarity as well.

While effects lacked a lot to do, they still became accurate and lacked distortion of other issues. For a film from 1986, this seemed like a quality soundtrack.

A few extras flesh out the disc, and we find a Cast Interview from 1986. In this five-minute, 39-second piece, we hear from actors Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short.

All three sit together, as they discuss aspects of the film. They mix minor notes with joking. We don’t really learn much, but the featurette seems moderately enjoyable.

Four Deleted Scenes span a total of 19 minutes, five seconds. We find “Original Opening” (7:45), “Hollywood – The Mansion and Extended Scenes” (10:14), “El Guapo’s Photo Tableau” (0:40) and “Dusty, Are You Ready Yet?” (0:26).

As implied by their brief running times, the last two don’t offer much. Each one provides tiny additions to existing scenes.

“Opening” and “Hollywood” prove much more interesting. The former lets us see Santa Poco and El Guapo before we meet the Amigos, whereas “Hollywood” brings more of the Amigos’ situation at the movie studio.

“Opening” would’ve worked just fine, and I suspect it got jettisoned because the producers wanted to get the Amigos onscreen more quickly. “Hollywood” makes no difference to the story, but it offers more of Joe Mantegna, Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman, so it becomes a welcome addition.

“Hollywood” also brings a brief view of Fran Drescher as “Miss Rene”, another actor. She doesn’t get much to do, but it’s fun to see her.

Text intros accompany all the clips, and we learn Sam Kinison played a “mountain man” in the film’s original cut. Alas, those scenes apparently have been lost.

Finally, a booklet reproduces a 2011 Empire Magazine look back at Amigos. It also includes text insights to various parts of the movie. The booklet adds value to the package.

Back in 1986, ¡Three Amigos! offered a cinematic disappointment, and I can’t claim the years have made changed that view. While it comes with moderate entertainment value, it never manages to live up to the talent involved. The Blu-ray brings pretty good audio and a few bonus materials along with erratic visuals. Amigos remains a watchable but lackluster comedy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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