Mario Van Peebles wrote, produced, and stars in this western feature that attempts to forge a new frontier in the genre, but gets corralled by its own bland plot. The film premiered in 1997 on The Movie Channel and was subsequently released on home video in 1998, with promotional
materials dubbing it LOS LOCOS POSSE to create a tie between it and Van Peebles's 1993 theatrical feature POSSE.
In the Old West, cowboy Chance (Mario Van Peebles) is found tarred and feathered by an ill-tempered nun, Sister Drexel (Rusty Schwimmer), who is traveling with a band of mentally ill people whom she's transporting to a new mission. Believing him to be a fugitive, the group's aged Mother Superior
(Jean Speegle Howard) tells him he will be freed if he leads the group to a mission across the desert. But after she dies, Sister Drexel keeps Chance in shackles and forces him to navigate their path. Meanwhile, in the desert, Mexican bandits, led by Batista Manuel (Danny Trejo), conduct a violent
search for a whore named Allison (Melora Walters), who castrated Batista. Allison is now amongst the troupe traveling with Drexel.
Chance grudgingly leads the group until he manages an escape from Sister Drexel with Presidente (Rene Auberjonois), a idiot savant member of the group who has an uncanny knack for winning card games. Chance and Presidente go on to win a fortune at a gambling den, but soon find themselves back
under Drexel's thumb when she engages a squad of rangers to capture them. As the trip continues, they are attacked by two of Batista's men, who kill Drexel before Chance kills them. He tries to leave the group, but feels responsible for their safety. When they arrive at the mission, they find it
in ruins and are forced to go to the nearby town of Dead Man's Creek. The town is abandoned and the group discovers that Batista and his men are coming. In the ensuing gun battle, Presidente and Chance are wounded, but still manage to kill Batista's men. With Batista holding a gun on Allison,
Chance staggers out in the street and kills him.
LOS LOCOS is such a scattered affair that one wonders if the result would have been different had Van Peebles chosen to direct it (as he did with POSSE). Though generally entertaining, the film moves from scene to scene without really progressing. It introduces unnecessary characters like Chance's
ex-girlfriend Clara and his nemesis Deacon, only to then drop them. Some comical plot threads--Allison wants to become pregnant with Chance's child, Chance wants to get Presidente laid--dissipate the film's focus energy. And while Chance is the primary character, we learn virtually nothing about
Despite the evident problems with Van Peebles's script, director Jean-Marc Vallee captures the look and feel of the classic western. The cast does its best, with Rene Auberjonois and Tom Dorfmeister particularly good as two of the main "locos." Van Peebles contributes a solid lead, but he could
have been far more effective had his character been more adequately explored. (Profanity, violence, nudity.)
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