Film / Young Guns

Young Guns is a 1988 action/Western film. It stars Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, and Casey Siemaszko. It also features Terence Stamp, Terry O'Quinn, Brian Keith, and Jack Palance. Young Guns is a retelling of the adventures of Billy The Kid (Estevez) during the Lincoln County War, which took place in New Mexico during 1877-1878.

John Tunstall, an educated Englishman and cattle rancher in Lincoln County, New Mexico, hires wayward young gun men to live and work on his ranch. Tunstall's ranch is in heavy competition with another well-connected rancher named Murphy and their men clash on a regular basis. Tunstall recruits Billy and tensions escalate into the murder of Tunstall. Billy (Estevez), Doc (Sutherland), Chavez (Phillips), Dick (Sheen), Dirty Steve (Mulroney), and Charlie (Siemaszko), consult their lawyer friend Alex who manages to get them deputized and given warrants for the arrest of Murphy's murderous henchmen.

A fun, fast paced action flick, Young Guns isn't exactly high-brow cinema but then it doesn't pretend to be. Its about cowboys killing cowboys, with Billy the Kid, who ain't all there, right in the middle of it being as Crazy Awesome as he can manage without getting shot.

A sequel followed, memorable mostly for the Bon Jovi song on its soundtrack.

This film contains the following tropes

  • Age Lift: One of the biggest problems with any telling of the Lincoln County War. Tunstall is depicted as an older British gent (Terence Stamp in this version) when in fact he was 24 when ambushed and killed. He was 4 years older than William Bonney.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Chavez, who is Mexican-Navajo, played by Lou Diamond Phillips, who is of Filipino, Spanish, and Cherokee descent.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Artistic License – History:
    • In the second movie, the character "William Henry French" is a composite of two real life members of the Regulators: Jim French and Henry Brown, though he bears little resemblance to either one of them.
    • As mentioned earlier, John Tunstall was much younger in real life then he was in the movie. Also, Alexander McSween died in the middle of a furious shootout, while the movie shows him being gunned down by US army soldiers for no apparent reason at a time when there was no other shooting by anyone. Lawrence Murphy was not present at the actual final battle of the Lincoln County War, nor was he shot by Billy the Kid as the movie depicted. In fact, he was in extremely poor health at the time, and died of cancer a few months later.
    • Doc and Chavez both die in the second movie. In real life, both of them survived their exploits with Billy the Kid and went on to live full lives, both passing away from natural causes in the 1920s. Chavez died in 1924 at age 73, while Doc died in 1929 at 80. Oddly enough, the end of the first movie actually gets it right, explaining what they both went on to do after the Lincoln County War, but the sequel decides to change course and kill them off for some inexplicable reason.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Tom in the sequel.
  • Bad Ass Crew: The Regulators.
  • Bad Ass Long Coat: Many characters wear one, of the Old West "Duster" variety naturally.
  • Band of Brothers: Though the group itself uses the term "pals" to mean the same thing.
    William Bonney: "If you got three or four good pals, why, then you got yourself a tribe. Ain't nothin' stronger than that."
  • Bounty Hunter: An exceptionally Bad Ass and old one named Buckshot Roberts who takes on Billy the Kid's entire gang by himself. Killed more people then small pox.
    Dick Brewer: We've got a warrant for you, old man.
    Buckshot Roberts: I ain't got no business with that war no more, peckerhead son of a bitch. I'm on my own. I've come to pick up the 150 dollars Sheriff Brady has put out for the Kid. The rest of you are only worth about 110, but I'll take it.
    Doc: What a sweet disposition.
    Buckshot Roberts: All right, let's dance. *starts shooting*
  • Catch Phrase: "Yoohoo! I'll make you famous..."
  • Decoy Protagonist: Dick Brewer in the first film.
  • The Dying Walk: As a gut shot Chavez is near death in the second movie, he suddenly gets up and walks away from the outlaw hideout, but soon collapses alone and by himself in the town.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Pat Garrett.
  • Famed In-Story: By the time Young Guns 2 rolls around, Billy has acquired quite a bit of notoriety, with stories of his exploits being written and released in proto-comic book form; the stories may be period-appropriate Fan Fic at best, but the trope itself is Truth in Television.
  • Gilligan Cut: Used when Doc is briefly back in Lincoln to visit Yen Sun while the rest of the pals are elsewhere and discussing whether Doc is really coming back, as he's been gone a long time.
    Billy: He'll come back. Doc likes me.
    Doc: I can't stand him.
  • Great Escape: One thing Billy was great at: breaking out of jail or getting out of death traps.
  • The Gunslinger: Billy, though notable for using treachery rather than a fast draw to get the drop on opponents.
  • The Gunfighter Wannabe: Charlie
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Doc.
  • Hidden Depths: Billy shows he is quite adept at reading current events. Something the other Regulators were implied to be taught how to do so.
  • Impaled Palm: In a fight in Young Guns 2, Chavez y Chavez, Lou Diamond Phillips' character, gets stabbed in the hand with a knife. He then proceeds to knock the fuck out of the guy who stabbed him, one of the other young guns, and casually asks if the fight is over and offers the knife back. By pulling it out.
  • Infant Immortality: Subverted. The first person in Billy's gang to die in the second film is Tom.
  • Intoxication Ensues: "Did you see the size of that chicken?"
  • The Irish Mob: A western variation of it: Murphy's organization - which monopolized a lot of businesses and ranching throughout Lincoln County - is pretty much made up of gangsters in dusters and cowboy boots. When Brit Tunstall shows up looking to compete in the markets, Irishman Murphy doesn't take it very well...
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Billy the Kid does this to a bounty hunter in the first. Pretending to be awestruck by the bounty hunter's boasts, he asks if he can touch the gun with which the hunter plans to kill Billy the Kid. The bounty hunter hands it to him, and Billy secretly unloads it before handing it back. Billy then reveals his true identity. The bounty hunter tries firing several times with the empty gun before Billy shoots him down.
  • Jerkass: Dave.
  • Kill 'em All: By the end of the second film, the only survivors are Dave (who gets beheaded when he reaches Mexico), Hendry, and Billy (allegedly).
  • Knife Nut: Chavez.
  • Large Ham: A good amount of scenery chewing takes place by Estevez, but Palance as mob boss Murphy outclasses even that.
  • Miss Kitty: Jane in the sequel.
  • Noble Savage: Chavez, who's referred to as "the Indian" a few times, is portrayed as "the wise one" of the bunch and acts as a de facto shaman during the peyote sequence, bordering on Magical Native American.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Billy the Kid consistently behaves as one. He is excited every time there is bloodshed, and kills perhaps more people than any of his companions, often ignoring the original plan they agreed on just so he can kill more opponents. He pretty much single-handedly screws up Henry Hill's arrest by gunning him point-blank instead of arresting him, and leads to six more deaths on the spot, and makes the Ordinators outlaws.
    Billy: By the way, you're under arrest! (Chuckle)
    • Begins to change in the sequel after Tommy dies
  • Too Dumb to Live: A sheriff in the second film tries to shoot Billy, even though Billy already has a gun on him and warns him several times not to. Guess what happens.
    Billy: "That was stupid, Bill."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Although wildly embellishing a lot of the details of the Lincoln County War and Billy the Kid's part in it, Young Guns and the sequel were relatively better at sticking to the facts than a lot of earlier re-tellings.
  • The Wild West
  • Young Gun: The Movie

Alternative Title(s): Young Guns II