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Film / The Quick and the Dead

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The Quick and the Dead is a 1995 Western revolving around a Quick Draw shooting contest that attracts a variety of competitors, some of whom have personal reasons for taking a shot at the reigning champion.

On Dia de los Muertos, a mysterious Lady (Sharon Stone) rides into the small town of Redemption, Arizona. Redemption languishes under the iron fist of its mayor, John Herod (Gene Hackman), an outlaw turned gangster, and his cadre of thugs.

That night, the annual Quick Draw competition is open for sixteen brave competitors, who can order anything they wish on Herod's bill, so long that they remain in the contest, and the victor of the contest will win a massive sum of money. Of course, you have to survive long enough to win to get it, and Herod himself is a competitor, known for his ruthless skill with a gun. Then, of course, there are the other competitors:

  • There's The Kid (Leonardo DiCaprio), Herod's son, the local gun and dry-goods salesman, who's no slouch with a gun, and aching to prove to his father he's just as good as him.
  • There's "Ace" Hanlon (Lance Henriksen), "The Terror of Tucson," renowned both for his trick-shooting skill and long body count.
  • There's Sgt. Cantrell (Keith David), a former Buffalo Solider turned Gentleman Adventurer, but is there more to him than meets the eye?
  • There's Cort (Russell Crowe), an outlaw turned preacher who's not there by choice, a former protege-in-crime of Herod's, pulled from his mission and forced to compete for Herod's amusement.
  • There's the brave local would-be fighters, such as Scars, a brutal outlaw with a talent for escaping jail, Foy, one of Herod's lieutenants who has it in for Cort, and Dred, a local business man who has an unhealthy obsession with Horace the barkeep's daughter Katie.
  • And then there's the Lady herself, who seems to have her own history both with the town and with John Herod...

The film is directed by Sam Raimi, and executive produced by his long-time collaborator Robert Tapert. Sharon Stone is also a co-producer.

Not to be confused with a completely different Western starring Sam Elliott, based on a story by Louis L'Amour.

This film provides examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: The entire populace would rather see Herod dead than continuing to run the town, which is why they hire a gunfighter to challenge him in the contest.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Scars is taken with Lady. She's not interested.
    Scars: You're pretty.
    Lady: You're not.
    Scars: I need a woman.
    Lady: You need a bath.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The grand prize in the tournament is $123,000 (about $3 million in 2017 dollars). After the first round, Herod declares that all remaining fights are to the death.
  • The Ace: "Ace" Hanlon cultivates this image of himself. However, while he's a good trick shooter, he's actually a complete phony when it comes to killing. Herod is the true "genuine article".
  • Accidental Murder: Lady accidentally killed her father by failing to Shoot the Rope.
  • Action Girl: Lady is a gunfighter.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: The Lady is curt in response to Katie's adoration, until just before her first gunfight when Katie assure the Lady she will win; the Lady then strokes Katie's hair in thanks. Subverted when she survives.
    Katie: Lady, I think you're great!
    Lady: (pushing past her) Grow up.
  • Alliterative Name: Clay Cantrell.
    Shemp: How do you spell that?
    Cantrell: Correctly.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: The Kid gets hit in the gut when he duels Herod and dies a slow, agonizing death with the Kid crying and begging Herod to acknowledge him as his son just once.
  • All There in the Script: The bordello is named "The Pidgeon's Nest".
  • And Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, because the actors who played The Hero and the Big Bad are both Billed Above the Title.
  • Animal Motifs: Herod's guns have rattlesnakes emblazoned on the handles.
  • Apathetic Citizens:
    • When they're not throwing rocks at a priest, they're pretending not to notice when a young girl gets raped. In fairness, they're all under the heel of a local warlord who wouldn't hesitate to gun a single one of them down. They do hire a gunfighter to challenge Herod in the contest, but unfortunately Herod is quicker on the draw than their man is.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: The bullets range from blowing a gory hole through a man's head large enough for a view of the other shooter, to a neat hole that lets a single ray of sunlight through.
  • Arms Dealer: The Kid. The blind kid also has a collection of ammo for just about any gun. It's hinted that Herod makes most of his money this way.
  • Arrow Cam: Bulletcam is used in the final duel, but this is Sam Raimi...
  • Artistic License – Economics: The gun shop scene, where Herod takes Cort to get a gun from The Kid, clearly shows that the writers just tried to come up with prices that would make sense to moviegoers and didn't do any research. The Kid says a Colt .45 is worth $120. That would be about $3,000 in 2017 and way beyond the means of most if not all the people who would come to him looking to buy a gun. The beat-up pistol that he says is worth five dollars is about $130 in today's money, and actually would be about half of what someone could expect to pay for a brand new revolver back in 1881.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Herod is greased lightning on the draw and nigh unbeatable in a straight up gunfight. For this reason, he owns the town of Redemption and nobody brave enough to challenge him directly ever survives. The only one who comes close to his speed and skill is the Kid. To be beaten, he has to be blindsided and killed by someone who he thought was already dead.
  • Audible Sharpness: Lady's father's badge, when she throws it, makes the trademark "shing" sound.
  • The Atoner: Cort, though he is fairly certain that his quest is in vain, due to the fact that he killed a priest at Herod's command.
  • Badass Boast: Ace is fond of these. Too bad he can't back any of them up. So is the Kid, who for the most part can. Spotted Horse stands up on a table in the saloon and shows off the many scars from gunshots he has taken over the years. He's able to back it up too, as Cort isn't able to kill him with the first shot.
  • Badass Longcoat: Lady's awesome ankle-length duster. Herod's goons also sport dusters.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Herod always looks very dapper whether he's walking about town, entertaining guests, squeezing his iron fist around the people of Redemption, or gunning someone down.
  • Badass Preacher: Cort is a reformed ex-gunfighter who still has his old magic.
  • Bad Boss: After Herod finds out Ratsy injured Cort's hand, Herod gives him twenty seconds to get out of town. He doesn't get out in time.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When the Lady wakes up on the Kid's bed, she looks down the barrel of a pistol and hears a click like a hammer cocking. But the gun is unattended, and the click is the Kid futzing with his inventory.
    • When the Kid duels Scars, he drops to his knees as if Scars had shot him. Then Scars' body drops into view.
    • When the Kid duels Herod, Herod drops, while the Kid marvels at his speed. But it's the Kid who has been fatally wounded.
    • Then Herod is on the receiving end when he hits Lady, only to realize from his shadow that there's a neat hole in his chest.
  • Bait the Dog: Eugene is shown easing Katie behind him during the hanging scene. At the time it looks like he's trying to shield her if someone starts shooting, but in retrospect he's just taking the opportunity to grope her.
  • Battle in the Rain: The Lady's showdown with Eugene Dred takes place during a downpour, with the Lady and Eugene charging at each other, guns blazing. The scene contrasts with Herod postponing his duel with Cantrell until it stops raining.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension
    Cort: Last night the Kid, tonight Herod. Any man you're not interested in?
    Lady: Yeah - you.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Despite being repeatedly beaten up by Herod's thugs, Russell Crowe's good looks remain unimpaired.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Dog Kelly is so named because of an incident in his Backstory where he was forced to eat his beloved dog or face starvation. Any mention of his nickname or the incident in question is a good way to seriously piss him off, as evidenced in the deleted scene when The Lady teases him about it.
    • The Lady has two:
      • The first one is Herod, who she has sworn vengeance against for forcing her to try to Shoot the Rope to keep her father from being hanged when she was just a little girl, resulting in her shooting her father in the head instead.
      • The Lady also goes for blood after her second opponent, Eugene Dred, rapes Katie, the young girl who she had befriended and who looked up to her.
    • Cort tries to attack Herod after he's forced to shoot Lady. Subverted - it's actually a ploy to distract his men from her Not Quite Dead body.
    • Herod gets outright pissed when he discovers that Ratsy smashed Cort's gun hand in revenge for having his nose broken twice by Cort, denying Herod the satisfaction of ever knowing whether or not he's faster on the draw than Cort. He gives Ratsy twenty seconds to leave town just for the satisfaction of blowing him away as he's running.
  • Best Served Cold: The Lady becomes one of the best gunslingers in the West and marches into town and a possible death-by-Quick Draw just to have the chance to blow away Herod, who killed her father and took over the town that he protected as the sheriff, long ago when she was a child.
  • Big Bad: John Herod, the murderous outlaw-turned-gangster who the Kid, Lady, and Cort all have their reasons to kill.
  • Big Fish in a Bigger Ocean: Gutzen is the first to volunteer to join the contest, proudly proclaiming himself as a "Swedish champion." He's also the first eliminated, courtesy of the Kid.
    Kid: Am I just that fast... or is Sweden a very slow place?
  • Billed Above the Title: Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman's names on the poster.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Subverted, in that it's done as a Kick the Dog instead of a non-lethal means of ending the duel. "Ace" Hanlon boasts that he can kill a man with either hand, and did so while killing the notorious Terrence Brothers. Unfortunately Herod, the man he's about to duel, was the one who actually killed them, so he shows his contempt by shooting Hanlon in his gun hand, then inviting him to draw with the other hand, which promptly gets a bullet hole through it as well.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Everybody in the tournament carries a customised gun of some kind with nickel finishes and/or fancy engravings. Except for Cort, who is given an old, worn-out pistol, described as the cheapest gun in the shop.
  • Blood Knight: Herod talks a lot about the thrill he gets from putting his life at risk.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Herod thinks he won a gunfight with The Lady, but looks down to see a neat hole through his chest, with light coming from his back and wind whistling through this gunshot wound that looks more like a clean bloodless tunnel.
  • A Bloody Mess: Lady fakes her own death with red ink. When she comes back to kill Herod, we see the little blind kid smiling and pouring red ink on the ground.
  • Blown Across the Room: Rather bizarrely applied in the final gunfight: Lady and Herod both draw and fire simultaneously. Lady is hit in the chest and staggers back, wincing in pain. Herod grins, appearing unfazed... until he looks down at the sunlight shining through a bloodless hole through his chest. Lady then shoots him in the eye, sending him cartwheeling backwards.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Gutzen and Ace Hanlon both brag about their prowess. Neither of them are taken seriously, and both are quickly eliminated.
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • Herod finishes off Sgt. Cantrell this way, complete with large exit wound.
    • This is what finally puts down Spotted Horse, courtesy of Cort.
    • As a child, Lady accidentally shot her father in the head while aiming for the rope Herod's men were hanging him with.
  • Boring, but Practical: After seeing several cool guns, Cort admits he doesn't have any money, so Herod buys him the cheapest gun in the shop, a worn-down Colt 1851 Navy cartridge conversion. As Cort is leaving, the Kid says, "That gun shoots straight. I wouldn't sell it if it didn't." And true to his word, the gun never fails Cort.
  • Brandishment Bluff: Herod does this to make the Lady back down from shooting him on their dinner date. She has a gun pulled under the table and he bluffs her with the click of a metal matchbox.
  • Braids of Action: Lady puts her Messy Hair into a neat single braid when she makes the decision to take on Herod in a duel. She goes back to Messy Hair for the final shootout, though.
  • Break the Badass: Before his death, Kid was known for being a walking Badass Boast fountain, but in his last seconds of life, he is just a boy crying.
  • Bring the Anchor Along: The Lady knocks out Dog Kelly and shackles him to the wheel of an old wagon buried in the desert. Later Dog turns up in town, dragging the wagon wheel with him, and challenges the Lady to a duel.
  • Bullet Dancing:
    • Herod briefly makes 'Ace' Hanlon do this before killing him, as a means of showing his contempt for the Miles Gloriosus.
    • A deleted scene revealed that the shoeshine boy lost his sight this way. Herod's men drunkenly shot at him to make him dance and he was blinded by a muzzle flash.
  • Buried Treasure: It's implied that Dog Kelly has gone crazy searching for the outlaw cache because he can't remember the exact location.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Lady's entire motivation in entering the competition is to kill Herod, but Herod has no idea who she is despite her obvious discomfort— and later, loathing. His telling response to an outright death threat from her: "Do you have some particular problem with me?" Subverted when Lady throws her father's badge into the dirt before the final battle, and Herod instantly recognizes it.
  • But Now I Must Go: Once Lady has killed Herod, she doesn't hang around for an encore; she just tosses her father's badge to Cort, gets on her horse and gallops off. This despite having just received a bullet wound that will definitely require treatment.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: The Kid spends most of his time in a gunfighting tournament provoking Herod into a duel. Herod asks The Kid not to duel him, but when Kid refuses to back down, Herod shoots him down immediately.
  • Captain Ethnic: Spotted Horse is a Native American, and Gutzon is a Swedish fighter. There's also a Mexican pistolero in the contest named Montoya who's only seen in the background and in montage.
  • Cardboard Prison: Scars still wears his striped prison uniform, having just broken out of prison and come straight to the quick-draw competition.
    Scars: I got 35 years, but they let me out early.
    Blind Boy: How long did you do this time?
    Scars: 3 days.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When the blind kid is introduced, among the items he's got for sale is ink. He later uses red ink for fake blood for the Lady's Staged Shooting.
    • The Kid has barrels of dynamite that he sleeps on. It's no surprise this is used for Stuff Blowing Up in the climax.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Lady is about to challenge Herod while he's drinking at the bar when a hand falls on her shoulder. She turns and sees Dog Kelly, the prospector she left chained to a wagon wheel in the prologue, glaring at her.
      Dog: "I challenge you."
    • When Ace Hanlon enters the saloon, Sgt. Cantrell can be seen sitting at a table reading a newspaper.
    • The Lady keeps noticing the elderly doctor staring at her. Turns out he's the only person who's worked out who The Lady is and why she's there.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Of a sort. The Kid has an extended Kirk Summation at one point that begins with, "A gunfight is in the head. Not the hands. The only reason that he's invincible is because you all think he is." Lady takes this advice to heart, deciding not to face Herod on his terms, but only after destroying his town, appearing to come back from the dead, and revealing that Herod created his own hero. As they face off, a clearly shaken Herod claims that they both know she isn't fast enough to beat him, and she answers, "Today, I am.")
  • Chick Magnet: The Kid is constantly followed by his groupies.
  • Children Forced to Kill: Herod had the main character, as a young girl, attempt to shoot a hanging rope in two to save her father, but she missed the rope and hit him square in the forehead instead.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: With the exception of his duel against the Kid, Herod never outright kills his opponents, preferring to draw out their suffering by inflicting incapacitating wounds, then publicly humiliating them before finally finishing them off.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: Ace brags about how he killed the Terrence brothers. Herod calls him out because he was the one who really killed them, then shoots one of Ace's thumbs off and puts a bullet through his other hand before finally shooting him in the heart.
  • Costume Porn: The outfits are all vintage period attire, weathered to look appropriately beaten up for everyone except Herod. Ditto for the guns, which were aged by dunking them in a swimming pool so they would rust.
  • Counting to Three: When Cort and Lady are forced to duel each other, Cort places his hands behind his back, gripping his belt so he won't be tempted to draw. Herod announces that his men will gun them both down at the count of ten if neither have drawn.
  • Covered with Scars:
    • The aptly named Scars, who gives himself a scar every time he kills someone.
    • Spotted Horse shows off his bullet wounds while bragging about how many shots he's taken and how he can't be killed by a bullet.
  • Create Your Own Hero: The Lady (becoming an expert gunfighter), when Herod gets her to accidentally shoot her own father when she is a young girl.
  • Crippling the Competition: Ratsy badly bruises Cort's right hand before his gunfight with Herod, forcing him to fight with his left hand. Since this effectively robs Herod of knowing if he really can best Cort, Herod is NOT happy about this.
  • Cutting the Knot: All of the gunfights depend on the duelists drawing the split second the town clock tower strikes twelve. As part of their plan to get one over on Herod, Lady arranges for the clock tower to be blown up with gunpowder during Herod's duel with Cort. During the final duel between Lady and Herod, they have to draw on pure speed and instinct alone.
  • The Dandy: Hanlon; subverted when, after he dies, the other contestants strip his corpse of all his fine clothes.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    Scars: (leering right in Lady's face) You're pretty.
    Lady: You're not.
    Scars: I need a woman.
    Lady: You need a bath.
  • Death Glare: The Lady and the Kid try to stare down Herod, but their fear of him means they can't keep it up. It's only after Herod kills Kid that he walks away from Lady's glare.
  • Death Seeker: Cort would rather have been hanged than be forced to return to his violent ways. When Lady says she's too scared to take on Herod, the doctor replies that she's more afraid of living than dying.
  • Deliberately Jumping the Gun: A Quick Draw tournament is held where both contestants start to draw when the town clock chimes the hour. Cort advises Lady that there's actually a click that comes from the clock just before the chime, and to listen for it and start drawing then, since it's too close to the chime for anyone watching to tell the difference.
  • Desperate Object Catch: Cort uses up his only bullet on Spotted Horse, but his wounded opponent keeps firing. The blind boy digs a suitable bullet from an ammo box by feel and throws it to Cort, who snags it in time for him to reload and finish the Indian off.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: After a night of poker and drinking, the Lady wakes up half naked in the Kid's bed. The Kid implies they had sex but the Lady doesn't remember any of it apart for the Kid puking and passing out.
    Kid: Want some breakfast or how about a little of what we had last night?
  • Dirty Coward: Eugene Dred. Though he's a capable gunfighter, his bravado falters when he is challenged to pick on someone his own size. He is reluctant to take on the Kid, only joining the competition when Kid calls him "chicken." After being wounded by Lady, he devolves into an inelegant, blubbering mess who begs for his life. After Lady decides he's Not Worth Killing, he immediately attempts to shoot her in the back.
  • Dirty Old Man: Lady calls Eugene Dred one when she catches him trying to entice Katie into working for him.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Cantrell smokes from one, as befits a Gentleman Adventurer.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You:
    • Cort gives this warning to his first opponent, who doesn't listen, and Lady, who does, sort of.
    • Herod does not want to kill his own son and gives the Kid several chances to back out of the duel, going so far as telling him that he has already proven himself and that nobody will think any less of him.
  • The Door Slams You: Ratsy is hitting and abusing Cort in the belief that he won't hit back. As he's thrown at Herod's feet, Cort suddenly lashes back with a foot, slamming the door in Ratsy's face and breaking his nose.
  • Double Entendre:
    Ace: Ya wanna play poker with me, little lady?
    Lady: Looks like you're having a pretty good time playing with yourself.
    (Ace finds that Actually Pretty Funny)
  • Dramatic Drop: During Cort's duel with Foy, someone drops a glass of beer in slow-motion.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock:
    • Plenty of examples, but subverted when the Lady is working herself up to shoot Herod under the dinner table with a derringer, only to freeze when she hears a click. It turns out to be Herod clicking a silver matchbox lid to freak her out.
    • The Kid asks what would happen to anyone who drew their weapon before the clock strikes. Herod's bodyguards pointedly cock their lever action rifles.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Averted big time; contestants are robbed the moment they're confirmed dead.
    • The Lady breaks down in tears when she can't find her father's grave. Doc Wallace tells her that Herod's men smashed the gravestone and burnt the body.
    • The Kid is a noticeable exception; Lady closes his eyes after he Dies Wide Open, and his body is gently carried off by the townspeople, unmolested.
    • When Cort shoots Lady, Doc Wallace angrily warns "the vultures" off from stripping the body. It's actually to prevent anyone from noticing she's Not Quite Dead.
  • Duel to the Death: When Herod changes the rules of the competition, to weed out the gunfighter the townsfolk hired to take him down.
  • Dynamic Entry: Cort is introduced by being thrown through the doors of the saloon, rolling across the floor and slamming up against the bar.
  • Elite Mooks: Herod's nameless bodyguards have black hats, black dusters, and 15-round repeating rifles.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Several shots in the flashbacks to when Lady's father was murdered when she was a little girl. She was carrying the doll, of course, but it goes flying from her hands and gets trampled on by the horses of the outlaws.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Herod changes the rules after the second round to make each contest a Duel to the Death, but he abides by the rule himself once it's declared. It doesn't stop him from telling his men to kill Cort if he's the winner of their duel. He also deals out harsh punishment to liars and cheaters, his own men included.
    • The only person Herod seems to have any hesitancy at all about shooting is the Kid. He repeatedly warns him to back out of the contest with no strings attached, and when the two finally duel, Herod kills him quickly and efficiently, without humiliating him like he does to his other opponents.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Although Herod adamantly refuses to acknowledge the Kid as his biological son, he also noticeably doesn't want to shoot the Kid. He warns him several times to back out of the contest, and the Kid's death is the only one that seems to shake him.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
    • Just barely averted in the case of Horace the Bartender. The Kid uses his name, just once.
    • The Lady has a real name, but nobody in the town knows it (except Doc Wallace) and the audience doesn't learn it till quite late in the movie.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: Scars, who cuts his arm every time he kills someone, and Spotted Horse, who gives a Badass Boast showing every bullet wound that failed to kill him.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Herod orders Cort to shoot the kind priest who nursed them both back to health. The way he sees it, the state troopers are still hot on their trail, so by killing 'witnesses' they are tying up loose ends. It's not like the priest was doing it out of the goodness of his own heart or anything.
  • Evil Is Petty: Cort is on the receiving end of this from Herod's mooks, as they're trying to incite him to violence. When the blind kid sniggers at Lady's Deadpan Snarkery, Scars topples his stand.
  • Evil Mentor: Herod was previously this for Cort.
  • Evil Old Folks: Herod is in his sixties and at one point wears a pair of grandpa reading glasses. That doesn't make him any less of a dangerous, ruthless tyrant.
  • Evil Wears Black: Subverted with Ace Hanlon, who shows up decked out like Carl McCoy, but ultimately proves to be more flash than substance. Played straight with Herod, who wears sharp black suits.
  • Exact Words: "Spotted Horse cannot be killed by a bullet." He's right. It takes two bullets to put him down for good.
  • Face Death with Despair: The Kid completely loses his cool in his last moments after Herod shoots him in the gut in their duel and dies crying and begging Herod to acknowledge him as a son.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Ace Hanlon, whose claims would make him the greatest gunslinger in the west. Too bad he attempted to claim credit for one of Herod's kills.
  • Faking the Dead: The Lady, Cort, the doctor, and the blind kid concoct a scheme whereby Cort appears to kill the Lady in their contest, meaning Cort will face Herod in the final round, and the Lady can make a dramatic and unexpected return.
  • Fastest Gun in the West: It is implied that this is John Herod's way of weeding out any potential threats to his power over the town, as the final rounds are always played to the death and he has never lost.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Herod puts on a very charming, all-smiles front, but it barely conceals what a sadistic monster he is.
  • Feet-First Introduction:
    • A Slow Motion shot of Herod's boots walking across the floorboards, spurs jingling. This is used again in the flashback scenes. Then when Lady comes back from the dead, the jingly-spurs introduction is used for her.
    • The spurs introduction is also used for Ace as a Bait-and-Switch to make him look like a major player.
  • Feet of Clay: Ace looks like he's a front-runner for champ of the quick-draw contest, aided by the fact that he's played by Lance Henriksen. It turns out that he's mostly full of hot air.
  • Fingore: Herod accuses Ace of shooting a little girl's thumb off while doing a trick shot. During their duel, Herod shoots his thumb off.
  • Finish Him!: After defeating Dred in a spur-of-the-moment gunfight, the Lady balks at inflicting the Coup de Grâce as he's begging in front of her. Herod appears on the porch and insists she do so. The Lady refuses and goes back into the saloon. Dred obligingly attempts to kill her there, resolving her dilemma.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Herod does it after defeating his first opponent.
  • Forced to Watch: As a child, Lady was forced to watch Herod hang her father, who asks him not to let her watch. Instead, Herod says he'll let her father go if she's able to Shoot the Rope. Unused to the heavy revolver, she accidentally puts a bullet in her father's head.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    Herod: My father was a judge. *chuckle* That surprises you. He used to make my mother and me watch people being hanged. One day, he said there was too much bad in this world. He took a bullet, put it in his gun, and spun the chamber. Then he took it in turns, clicking it at each of us, until he blew the back of his head off with the final click. Understand this: There is nothing on this earth that frightens me now. Nothing.
  • Frontier Doctor: Redemption has one whose main function is to examine the fallen competitors and declare "This man is dead!". This becomes a Funny Moment when Spotted Horse turns out to be Not Quite Dead. Later, he plays a vital role when he keeps the scavengers away from the Lady's body as she is Faking the Dead.
  • The Gambler: Ace is this, mixing card motifs, gun tricks, and lots of pompous boasting.
  • Genre Throwback: To spaghetti westerns, mainly those of Sergio Leone.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Sergeant Cantrell, or so he claims. He's really a gunman the townspeople hired to kill Herod.
  • Girls with Guns: The Lady, who is commonly remarked upon as she's the only woman in the gunfighting tournament.
  • Give Me a Sword: Cort shouts desperately for a second bullet after his first shot fails to kill Spotted Horse. The Blind Boy has to find the right caliber by feel from a boxful of ammo before tossing it to him.
  • Glove Slap: Herod informs Lady that she's going to duel Cort, and if she refuses, she'll be killed. He then slaps her with the back of his hand (he's holding gloves in it). Lady tries to hit him back, only to be stopped by a Dramatic Gun Cock from Herod's bodyguards. Herod just smirks and walks off.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: An aesthetic version, since being an Old West period piece, everyone uses very similar models of gun. The Lady and the Kid (both "good") use nickel-plated Single Action Army revolvers with white grips, giving them Light Is Good vibes. Herod, the Big Bad, also wields a pair of SAAs. His have darker metal with custom gold dragon grips, classic "bad" gun traits, and he also dual wields them at several points, a typically "bad" method.
  • Groin Attack: Lady puts a bullet into Eugene Dred's crotch during their duel for raping Katie, a girl who looked up to her.
  • The Gunfighter Wannabe: Subverted with the Kid, who gives off this impression at first but proves that he can back up his talk. The real wannabe is Ace.
  • The Gunslinger: The entire movie centres around a quick draw competition, so the entire cast is filled with gunslingers. While most are Quick Draws, Cort and Ace are also Trick Shots.
  • Gun Porn:
    • In the Kid's gun shop, he proudly shows off custom models of the Colt Single Action Army, the Remington 1875, and the Smith & Wesson Model 3. Even Cort (who has forsaken his past as a killer) can't help staring at them in interest, but as he's completely broke, he ends up with a $5 revolver, bought for him by Herod. It's all he needs.
    • Before the first duel of the contest, between the Kid and Gutzon, there is about a minute of lovingly composed closeups while they each load their guns.
  • Gun Twirling: In a rather nice touch, the main actors were all taught to do it themselves— which was probably easier to film, considering the massive amount of gunfighting shown. This is most noticeable when Cort is sampling a gun in the Kid's shop; he goes through a complicated twirling, cocking and uncocking routine with the camera zoomed close on his hands as most movies would do with a stuntman doing the maneuvers, but then the camera follows the gun up to Russell Crowe's face as he cocks it next to his ear, showing that the actor had done the technique. Herod's minions do this with rifles quite a lot, in a way that should really eject an unused bullet every time.
  • Guns Akimbo:
    • Cort does something very similar. With Winchesters.
    • This is Eugene Dred's fighting style. A montage shows him excessively shooting an opponent this way. It doesn't help him against the Lady, though.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way:
    • In the final shootout where Lady kills Herod, her shot puts a small, neat hole in him that allows the sunlight to shine through. In reality, handgun bullets from that era were slower and softer than bullets today, so it would have lacked the power or penetrating ability to go straight through him. In addition, if it had gone all the way through him, the hole would have only stayed open for a split-second before blood and internal organs closed it once more, and the exit wound would have been fist-sized or larger. He wouldn't have been in any condition to stand there contemplating his situation for several moments.
    • Even more absurd is Lady's following headshot, which somehow causes Herod to do a full backflip in midair. This of course is impossible no matter where a bullet hits someone in any part of the body. Furthermore, Herod starts screaming in terror before the bullet hits him, as if he somehow knew it would be a fatal headshot before it made contact.
  • Hanging Judge: Herod's father was one. He'd take him and his mother to view public hangings.
  • Hat Damage: Lady, in the beginning scene. Dog Kelly shoots her hat aiming for her head, so she takes his while he's knocked out cold.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Cort was Herod's former right-hand man, who abandoned his violent career in favor of a peaceful religious life after Herod forced him to kill a priest who nursed him and Herod back to health. Herod has Foy and Ratsy burn Cort's mission to the ground and force him to join the competition.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The Lady has a nice set of leather pants, which are shown to good effect when Cort grabs her ass during the Wall Bang Her scene.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Katie really looks up to the Lady, having never seen a female gunslinger before. Lady isn't thrilled with her admiration, but she looks out for her.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Spotted Horse boasts that he's Immune to Bullets and has the scars to prove it. Cort takes him down with a single bullet (he's only allowed one) during their Quick Draw competition. The doctor, without even approaching the body, says casually, "He's dead." Cort turns to walk away...
    Spotted Horse: Spotted Horse... cannot... be killed... (staggers to his feet) a bullet...!
    Herod: I thought I explained the rules to you very carefully; you have to kill the man.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Herod may be a reprehensible human being and an avowed Blood Knight, but he hates liars (his prolonged humiliation of Ace Hanlon) and cheaters (his threat of death upon anyone who tries to cheat the competition, even his own mook Ratsy).
    • The Kid is the only kill Herod expresses real regret for, and despite giving a half-hearted confession that he wasn't certain if he actually was The Kid's father, his expression and quiet departure from the street after the fight (dropping his hat AND handgun AND wound dressing on the ground, no less) indicates that he did see him that way.
    • Horace seems like little more than the local barkeep and a minor henchman, but there are several moments that show how beaten down he is, and how he wishes he could be brave enough to stand up for himself, his daughter, and his town. He quietly thanks Lady after she kills Dred, for doing what he couldn’t.
  • Homage: Lady's vendetta with Herod and Troubled Backstory Flashback are lifted from Once Upon a Time in the West and High Plains Drifter.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: A variation occurs when Ace Hanlon claims to have two good shooting hands. In his match against Herod, first it turns out that at least some (probably all) of his war stories were fake, and Herod proceeds to shoot Ace in his right hand. Herod offers to take the next shot with his left hand, because unlike Ace, Herod really can aim well with both hands. Naturally, this story doesn't end well for Ace.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Lady after her duel with Dred. As Dred just raped his daughter, the Saloon Owner is only too glad to hand her a free one. As he does so, it's shattered by a bullet fired by a Too Dumb to Live Dred, who's burst into the saloon after her.
  • I Own This Town: Herod.
    Herod: If you live to see the dawn, it's because I allow it!
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Herod is more offended at Cort telling the Lady to back out of the tournament— rather than how, immediately after that, they argue over which one of them will kill him.
  • If I Do Not Return: As he's about to duel Cort, Herod quietly tells his bodyguards that even if Cort wins, they're to gun him down.
  • I'll Kill You!: Dog Kelly does his best to carry out his promise. Likewise Dred after the Lady kicks him in the face for raping Katie, but without the wait.
  • Immune to Bullets: Played somewhat straight. Spotted Horse is littered with bullet scars. He gives Cort a shock when he carries on fighting, instead of dying immediately as expected.
  • Implied Death Threat:
    • Herod says that if anyone cheats, they'll be eliminated from the competition. Cue Dramatic Gun Cock by his mooks.
    • A retroactive one where Herod says he used to be married, but it ended when she was unfaithful to him.
      Lady: Where is she now?
      Herod: I told you. She was unfaithful.
    • When The Lady first rides into town, she sees Eugene brush aside a prostitute to eye her instead. The Lady pulls aside her longcoat to show her holstered pistol. Eugene just smirks.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Cort, Herod, The Kid, The Lady, and a few others. In reality, quickdraw showdowns only work when the target is standing in the same place every time: there's no time to aim, and quickdraw training is specifically for hitting the same target in the same place as quickly as possible. If the target is in a different place, a quickdraw specialist will be at a severe disadvantage.
  • In the Back: Having given Ratsy a Mercy Lead of twenty seconds to get out of town, Herod takes a rifle from one of his bodyguards and calmly shoots Ratsy in the back as he is still running.
  • Inexperienced Killer: The Lady comes to town with the intention of killing Herod and avenging her father, but bottles her chances until the climax. It turns out that the first person she killed was her father by accident as a result of Herod. In the contest, she wounds Dog Kelly and kills Eugene Dred before ultimately killing Herod.
  • Informed Ability: Lampshaded by Herod in his duel with Ace Hanlon, who was previously played up as a sureshot trickshot artist, but whom Herod exposes as a fraud. By shooting him. It is also revealed that Herod had previously killed the men that Ace falsely laid claim to.
    Herod: Mr. Hanlon, I wanted to ask you about Indian Wells. Did that fight really take place?
    Ace: It sure did.
    Herod: And it's true that you gunned down four men?
    Ace: Two with my left hand. Two with my right hand. You see, the truth is that I am just as good with either.
    Herod: You must be the fastest gun in the west... That, or the biggest liar.
    Ace: It's a pity you weren't there to find out.
    Herod: Oh, but I was, Ace. You see, I was the one that really killed the Terrence brothers, and I doubt if a lying little chickenshit like you was even in the same state.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Herod tears off Cort's white collar after he kills Spotted Horse. "Welcome back, killer."
  • Institutional Apparel: Scars is still wearing his striped prison uniform, having just broken out of prison and come straight to the quick-draw competition.
  • Involuntary Battle to the Death: Almost played straight, but they wind up taking a third option. Cort is forced into practically every shootoff, but especially the one with Lady. Neither wants to shoot the other. Both want to shoot Herod, though.
    Herod: If neither one of you fire by the time I count down from ten, my men will gun you down. Ten... nine...
    Cort: Draw your gun. He'll do it.
    Herod: Eight. Seven.
    Cort: Draw!
    Herod: Six.
    Cort: Kill me, Ellen.
    Herod: Five.
    Cort: Kill me! Kill me! Kill me. Or I'm gonna kill you.
    Herod: One! [Cort finally shoots, and down goes the Lady]
    Doctor: [runs over to Ellen] She's dead. She's dead! Leave her alone, you vultures! Don't touch her!
    Herod: Nice shooting, Reverend. You put a fox in the henhouse and he'll have chicken for dinner.

    Fortunately, he missed on purpose and she just pretended to die. The doctor and the blind kid were in on it. Then Cort basically blows up the town with dynamite set up practically everywhere, and the Lady gets to have her awesome moment.
  • Ironic Echo: Cort calls out Herod for changing the rules of the contest, requiring a fight to the death from the second round on. Herod does it again before facing Cort, telling his mooks to gun Cort down if he's still standing. Cort responds in kind, taking out the mooks to make the final fight between Herod and Ellen fair.
  • It's Personal: Lady's motivation for entering the contest, in order to kill Herod.
  • Kill Tally:
    • "Scars", one of the criminals in the competition, is called such because he makes a cut in his arm for every man he kills. His Establishing Character Moment has him enter the bar, kick out some random guy for no apparent reason, shoot him dead as he tries to run away, and make one more cut before entering the bar again, all while chugging down a large glass of beer.
    • Likewise with 'Ace' Hanlon who invites the Lady to a game of poker, then shows her how he's added an ace to his personal pack of cards every time he's killed someone.
  • Kinky Cuffs: Cort's hands are still chained together during his (deleted) sex scene.
  • Kirk Summation: The Kid is fond of these, sprinkled with a heavy dose of bragging, before each of his fights.
    "A gunfight is in the head. Not the hands. The only reason that he's invincible is because you all think he is. Now, he might have been the best five years ago, but time catches up with every man. He's just a little bit slower than he used to be. And as for me... would you believe it? I just reached my peak."
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Virgil Sparks (the Pride of Texas) makes his introduction this way. The Kid has his own groupies too.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Dred catches a bullet in the crotch from Lady after raping Katie. Shouldn't have pissed her off.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title comes from the King James version of The Bible (where "quick" was meant in the then-current sense of "alive").
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Before the first duel, Gutzon and the Kid are shown lovingly preparing their revolvers, oiling the cylinder and carefully loading each bullet into place.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: When the Lady wakes up in the Kid's shop with no memory of how she got there, the Kid claims he won her in a game of poker. As the last thing she remembers is him puking and passing out behind the saloon, she is pretty sure he is lying.
  • Loved by All: The Kid is beloved by the townspeople, who view him as the hero who will defeat Herod. When he dies, the entire town is devastated and actually leave his body unmolested. Even Herod, the man who shot him and insulted and denied being his father all movie, walks away a clearly heartbroken man..
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money:
    • The big prize of the Quick Draw championship (that is held annually, no less) is $123,000. In 2017 dollars, this would equate to about $3 million— a ridiculous amount for a tiny non-mining town, no matter how rampant the corruption there is. Bonus points for storing this fortune in a single, prominent, unlocked chest, positioned on the table in the town's dirty, lowbrow saloon. (On that note, gun prices are also inflated: the Kid only shows his client a few rare and heavily customized pistols that cost up to $120... while a brand new factory revolver of the kind he himself uses would cost only three times as much as the "ridiculously" priced beat-up gun he offers Cort— just $15.)
    • Justified in that Herod was a major outlaw and the money most likely is his accumulated loot. When announcing the prize, the saloon keeper says it's courtesy of Mr. Herod and Wells Fargo Bank, implying that at least some of it is proceeds of a robbery. The whole point of the competition seems to be that Herod counts on winning every year, and so is willing to put both his life and his fortune on the line. And it's implied he wins every year, so has never paid out the winnings.
    • As for The Kid's gun store prices, perhaps he simply has to charge ridiculously high due to his father's taxes. Earlier in the movie, it is stated Herod takes 50 cents from every dollar the town earns.
  • Made of Iron: Spotted Horse, who claims that he cannot be killed by a bullet, and technically lives up to the boast (it takes two).
  • Make an Example of Them: Herod figures out that Cantrell is a Professional Killer sent to assassinate him. When he issues his challenge, Herod says he intends to do this.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Herod suspects that the Kid is his wife's child from her infidelity.
  • Meaningful Name: Herod is named after the Biblical tyrant. Ratsy looks like a rat.
  • Meek Townsman: Doc tells Lady that there are good people in the town, they're just cowards.
  • Mercy Lead: Played With. When Herod discovers what Ratsy did to Cort's hand, Herod gives him twenty seconds to get out of town. Although the mook wastes five seconds whining, he takes off at full speed when it's clear Herod's not letting it go. Herod waits the full amount of time, but then calmly takes the rifle from one of his bodyguards and shoots the still-rapidly-fleeing figure dead, showing that there was no way he could have gotten away in the time given.
    Herod: TIME'S UP, RATSY!!
  • Miles Gloriosus:
    • Ace Hanlon is a moderately skilled gunslinger who specialises in trick shots. Despite his constant boasting, he doesn't run from a fight. However this is due to his fatal mistake of thinking he won't encounter a gunfighter who is quicker on the draw than him. Nor does he expect to run into the man who really killed the Terrence brothers, for which Ace has been taking credit. He quickly gets Feet of Clay when confronted by a true ace.
    • Another example is Virgil Sparks, the self-proclaimed "Pride of Texas", who doesn't get past the first round of the tournament.
    • Although he's not called on it, it's implied that the resume The Kid gives while trying to chat up The Lady is somewhat exaggerated. Certainly his father never treats him like the great outlaw he claims to be.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: When Lady first arrives at the saloon, the bartender tells her "Whores next door" without turning around. She quickly corrects his misapprehension by kicking the chair he is standing on out from underneath him.
  • Moe Greene Special: The shot of Herod's which kills Sgt. Cantrell takes him directly through the right eye.
  • Moment of Silence:
    • Though it's not immediately after the death of the Kid, a full minute goes by without background music, dialogue, or cheering, before the duel between Cort and the Lady.
    • The spectators normally cheer the winner of a gunfight, but even they are shocked at the sadistic way that Herod kills Ace. There's silence until Herod looks at them expectantly, whereupon they rush to applaud the victor.
  • Mood Whiplash: After his gunfight with Herod, the Kid says "Shit, that was fast!" before falling over, mortally wounded.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Happens when Lady and Herod face off in a gunfight. Both fire, and Herod appears fine until he looks down at his shadow and sees light coming through a bullet hole in his chest.
  • Moving the Goalposts: After the first round, Herod declares that the remaining fights will be to the death.
  • Ms. Fanservice: It wouldn't be a true Sharon Stone vehicle without being able to see her breasts and the obligatory Wall Bang Her scene.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: The Lady to Herod as they begin their final duel, revealing that she is the young girl who was forced by him to accidentally shoot her father years earlier.
  • Nails on a Blackboard: When the Lady is challenged to her first duel, her name is chalked up on a board with an audible screech that shows the tension she is feeling at that moment.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: John Herod. Eugene Dred is not that friendly either.
  • Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"!: Horace the Bartender is taking names to enter the Quick Draw Competition.
    Kid: I think you better put me and my friend Eugene on the list. Eugene, do you know how to spell your name?
    Dred: I didn't say nothing about joining no contest.
    Kid: Do I hear clucking? Did somebody bring a chicken in here?!
    Dred: (standing up, readying a punch) I'll take you out of here right now with my bare hands!
    Kid: No, see, it's a gunfight. We both have guns. We aim, we fire, you die; you'll get the idea.
    Horace: The fighting begins tomorrow on the street, not in here.
    Dred: (beat) Put my name up there.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Lady and Herod have a very civil dinner with each other. Lady's pointing a gun at Herod under the table. He's just faking her out with the lid of a metal matchbox.
  • No Name Given: The Lady is a gender-flipped Man With No Name. A flashback to when she was a child reveals her first name is Ellen.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Spotted Horse even boasts that he "cannot be killed by a bullet." He survives the first shot (to the body) in his fight with Cort, but Cort gets him right through the temple with the reload. A prone Spotted Horse briefly raises his gun hand, then dies for good.
  • Nothing Personal: Most of the gunfighters just want the prize, and who they challenge is based on who they believe they can beat. For Cantrell it's just a job as he's been hired to kill Herod during the contest by the townspeople.
  • Not Just a Tournament: The gunfighting tournament is primarily a way for Herod to eliminate any threats to himself and intimidate any of the locals who might try to oppose him. He knows that there is an assassin gunning for him and that the Kid is itching to take him on. The tournament is a trap for them to face him in the open where he can gun them down in a duel. It is implied that if anyone proves too much of a threat, his Mooks will gun that person down.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Herod is dead-set on convincing Cort that his mission to make up for his past sins is pointless because they're cut from the same cloth, and he's always going to be a killer. Inverted with The Kid, who Herod is also dead-set on convincing that they're nothing alike, possibly because he's loathe to acknowledge that he's The Kid's father.
    • Also when the Lady survives her first duel.
      Herod: You're looking at me and thinking: we have nothing in common. But we do. We're both winners.
  • The Noun and the Noun: Well, more like "The Adjective and the Adjective."
  • Offing the Offspring: The Kid, whose entire character arc was about trying to please his father Herod, is heartlessly gunned down when the two of them duel.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ace gets an enormous one.
      Herod: See, I was the one who really killed the Terrence brothers. And I doubt that a lying little chickenshit like you was even in the same state.
    • Lady is trying to ease out a hidden derringer while dining with Herod, when it drops out of her hand to the floor.
    • "Spotted Horse... cannot... be killed... by a bullet!"
    • Herod himself gets one when Lady reveals she's not dead after all, and throws her father's badge at his feet, revealing who she really is.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Lady challenges Herod, he just mutters at her to go away. "I've already been challenged." The Kid then struts out to duel Herod, showing why he's not happy. Herod quickly regains his Smug Snake evilness, however.
  • Once is Not Enough: Happens with Spotted Horse. Up until that point, Cort has been able to win all his quick draw matches with only one bullet (he's a priest and refuses to kill them) until his next opponent makes a Badass Boast about how a bullet wouldn't put him down; he's right, it takes two.
  • One Bullet Left: An Invoked Trope; Herod gives Cort only a single bullet for each competition, so he won't try shooting his way out of town.
  • One-Man Army: Herod constantly sings Cort's praises on his abilities as a killer, to the point where he only gives him a single bullet per duel out of concern that he might just shoot his way out of town. Herod is proven right when Cort almost singlehandedly takes out his entire gang, allowing Lady to have a fair duel.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Gutzon, the Swedish gunfighter, announces before his duel with the Kid that he does not wish to kill a child, and will only shoot to wound. The Kid, who's faster on the draw, repays him in kind; Gutzon catches a bullet in the leg and arm, but limps away alive, and is therefore one of only a few entrants to lose a duel and survive (largely because Herod begins enforcing Duel to the Death as a rule in the second round). Cort's first opponent is shot in the arm and lives, and so does Lady's. Many of the first round battles pass by in a montage, leaving the losers' fates unclear.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Lady whose real name is Ellen, and the Kid whose name is Fee, but only mentioned once.
  • Outlaw Town: Herod runs Redemption as his own personal fiefdom and provides safe haven for outlaws, taking 50 cents on every dollar spent in the town.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: After Gutzon the Swedish Quick Draw Champion is defeated, Kid asks "Am I fast, or is Sweden just a very small place?"
  • Overzealous Underling: When the Quick Draw tournament is down to Herod and Cort, the night before the final match, Herod has his follower Ratsy work Cort over, since Cort attempted to attack Herod earlier in the day. During the course of this, Ratsy breaks Cort's right hand (both because of his orders and as payback for Cort breaking his nose twice). Herod, who claims that he's wanted to have a proper gunfight with Cort even back when the two were bandits together, so they can find out who really is the Fastest Gun in the West, is pissed when he sees what Ratsy did.
  • Papa Wolf: Averted; after Eugene Dred rapes his daughter, the saloon keeper reaches for Dred's gunbelt which is slung over his shoulder, a pistol in tempting reach. Dred waits... but the man just turns and staggers off. Fortunately, Lady is a more than willing Mama Bear.
    • According to Bruce Campbell, Pat Hingle kicked up about this, so a scene was filmed where during the Kid's wedding, Campbell had a cameo as a man who asks Katie to "dance the devil's dance", prompting Horace to kick him out of the bar. The entire sequence was cut.
  • Paper Tiger: Some of the contestants:
    • Gutzen is the first to enter the contest, bragging that he's the Swedish champion, a title nobody takes very seriously. He's eliminated by the Kid in the first round.
    • Virgil Sparks, "The Pride of Texas". He's defeated during a montage by Sgt. Cantrell.
    • Ace Hanlon constantly boasts about being the Fastest Gun in the West. While he's a good trick shot, Herod sees right through him when he takes credit for one of his kills and publically humiliates him before killing him.
    • Sgt. Cantrell is an enigmatic Gentleman Adventurer gunman hired by the townspeople to kill Herod. Unlike Ace, he does actually win a round, but is killed by Herod.
    • Scars is a deranged escaped convict. He lasts longer than the above, but is taken out by the Kid with little to no difficulty.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Though the Lady is initially rude to Katie, she becomes protective of her the more she sees Dred preying on her, showing that she's a decent person.
    • The Kid assures Cort that the junk gun he sold him still shoots straight, becoming one of the few people to show him any sympathy.
    • Herod several times offers Kid (who may or may not be his son) a chance to back out of the contest with no strings attached, and when they do duel, Herod doesn't humiliate him or draw out his death like he did with the other contestants.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Ratsy is very fond of bashing Cort with the handle of his pistol.
  • Playing Card Motifs: Ace Hanlon uses an ace as his Calling Card to let everyone know he's The Ace. He really isn't.
  • Pocket Protector: The Lady keeps her father's badge on her chest, which - along with a bottle of red ink for fake blood - keeps her from dying when Cort shoots her in their duel.
  • Preacher Man: Cort had a Heel–Faith Turn, after Herod forced him to murder a priest in cold blood.
  • Pre-Climax Climax: After deciding to return to Redemption to take on Herod, Lady barges into the brothel where Cort is held prisoner and drags him away from his guards at gunpoint into another room, where she proceeds to rip off his clothes and Wall Bang Him.
    Cort: Why are you doing this to me?
    Lady: Because we both could be dead tomorrow.
  • Pretty Little Head Shots: MASSIVELY averted when Cantrell is shot in the head, and in a wonderful display of that gory Sam Raimi absurdity, has a hole in his head large enough that his opponent can be clearly seen through it. Herod's demise is something of a variation of the trope played straight.
  • Price on Their Head: The Kid boasts to Lady that he's worth $3,000 in four states.
  • Produce Pelting: Cort is on the receiving end when he's taken out for his first gunfight.
  • Professional Killer: Sgt. Cantrell is a professional gunfighter hired by the townspeople to kill Herod. He doesn't take any pleasure in killing, to him it's strictly business.
  • Prospector: The opening scene has the Lady being shot off her horse by Dog Kelly, a crazed prospector who thinks she's after his gold (a buried outlaw cache). He just hits her hat, and the Lady chains him to a cartwheel instead of killing him. Dog drags the cartwheel all the way into town to enter the contest and challenge her.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Flipped. Cort was actually a pupil of Herod until he turned good.
  • Quick Draw: All over the place. Justified in that it is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Notably, Sgt. Cantrell doesn't have a conventional holster — his gun is attached to a pivot on his belt (a Bridgeport Rig), letting him fire from the hip without drawing it.
  • Raised Hand of Survival: Subverted. Cort manages to shoot Spotted Horse, known for his resilience, for the second time and he falls to the ground. He raises his arm, everyone gasps, anticipating another comeback, but his arm then falls back down as he is now dead for good.
  • Rape as Drama: Lady wants to back out of the tournament when the rules were changed to require a kill in order to win – until her opponent in the second round rapes the young girl who idolizes her.
  • Rasputinian Death: Spotted Horse, who constantly brags that he "cannot be killed by a bullet," is proved right: he gets shot clean through the heart, gets back up, fires off several shots while his opponent reloads, takes a second shot to the forehead, then starts to get back up again before finally dying for real.
  • Rearing Horse: The Lady is riding one in her introduction.
  • Reckless Gun Usage:
    • Hanlon does a trick shot where he flips off his horse and fires underneath its belly, putting a bullet through the Ace of Spades held by a little girl.
      Herod: "That's a neat trick. I heard you blew a kid's thumb off in Reno doing that."
    • The Kid shows Cort a gun with no trigger guard, warning him, "Don't wear it while you're drunk, or you'll kill your feet." A gun with no trigger guard would be valuable in a quickdraw competition, but would be tremendously unsafe for daily carry.
  • Recycled In Space: A Spaghetti Western Martial-Arts Tournament.
  • Reformed Criminal: Cort. Unfortunately, he is forced into the gunfighting tournament after Herod burns down his mission.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Cort is forced to participate in the contest. The Lady plays with this, in that she's not reluctant to fight but does clearly display some qualms about killing (at least, for anyone who isn't Herod); she initially merely wounds her targets unless put in a position where she has no choice.
  • Retired Badass: It's evident that Cort used to be very good at killing before he became a man of faith.
  • Retired Gunfighter: Cort is a Reformed Criminal who has dedicated himself to life as a priest.
  • Revealing Skill:
    • When Cort is first brought to him, Herod asks if he's still as fast as he used to be. Cort doesn't respond.
      Herod: Do I get an answer? Have you taken a vow of silence? (laughter) I said ARE YOU STILL FAST?!
      (throws a glass of water which Cort catches, brim up. He takes a swig.)
    • The Lady's ability to Shoot the Rope convinces Herod to allow her into the competition.
  • Revolver Cylinder Spin:
    • When Herod takes Cort to The Kid's gun shop to get him a gun (forcing him to be an unwilling participant in the quick draw competition), he is shown several guns. The cylinders on a couple of them get a good spin while he's trying them out.
    • During the close-up sequence of The Kid loading his revolver while the clock ticks down to high noon, after he loads the last chamber and closes the port he gives the cylinder a spin.
  • Revolvers are Just Better: The Kid runs a gun shop and shows off a series of increasingly cool revolvers to Cort, who must ultimately take the cheapest and ugliest gun in the store.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Subverted; this actually happens halfway through the movie, when the Lady decides to leave town rather than carry out her revenge.
  • Right in Front of Me: When Lady first arrives in town, she goes to the saloon to look for a place to stay. Since she's standing right behind the bartender while he's fetching things from a high shelf, he makes the mistake of thinking that she wants to work at the local brothel. Unlike others in this film whose words put them into a bad situation, he gets knocked down, but is otherwise not harmed.
  • Robbing the Dead:
    • Anyone who dies in the contest is immediately robbed of his belongings by bystanders. When Lady is shot, the doctor is distraught and refuses to let anyone touch the body. This is to hide the fact that she's faking her death.
    • One of the minor characters is a street vendor selling gold teeth. After Lady kills Dred, the vendor yanks out his teeth with pliers.
  • Russian Roulette:
    Herod: My father was a judge. *chuckle* That surprises you. He used to make my mother and me watch people being hanged. One day, he said there was too much bad in this world. He took a bullet, put it in his gun, and spun the chamber. Then he took it in turns, clicking it at each of us, until he blew the back of his head off with the final click. Understand this: There is nothing on this earth that frightens me now. Nothing.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The Kid gets a lot of face time, but in the end he's gut-shot and left to die in the street, simply to show that Herod's so evil he would do anything to finish a gunfight including kill his own son.
  • Sadistic Choice: Herod enjoys giving people a choice between killing someone they love, or dying at his hand.
  • Saloon Owner: Horace, who also serves as a referee to the contest.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Lady's thick badass scarf certainly qualifies, and needless to say goes well with her Badass Longcoat.
  • Scenery Gorn: The town Lady's father had been town marshal of is shown to be desolated after Herod took it over.
  • Self-Made Orphan: The Lady, but it's an Accidental Murder.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Cort's line "Come get some" was previously used in Raimi's Army of Darkness.
  • Serious Business: Herod mockingly buys Cort a rusted POS pistol for five bucks, but fortunately The Kid takes the weapons he sells very seriously.
    The Kid: That gun shoots straight. I wouldn't sell it if it didn't.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: Used in most of the duels.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: When Herod invites Lady to dinner after surviving her first duel, she wears a Pimped-Out Dress. She also cleans herself up when she finally decides to challenge Herod.
  • Ship Tease: Between Lady and The Kid, the Kid makes no secret to his crush on her, and she ends up kissing him at one point. Technically, they even sleep together, although it's literally just "sleeping": they got drunk and shared a bed, but Lady was sober enough to remember The Kid passing out before she did.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: When the Kid dies, everything becomes that much more dramatic.
  • Shoot the Rope: Done twice. Lady does it to save Cort when Herod's men try to hang him in the saloon. Later, in a flashback, Herod is about to hang Lady's father, but says he'll let him go if Lady (a little girl at the time) can shoot the rope. She hits her father instead. This makes it an inverted Chekhov's Skill.
  • Showdown at High Noon: And every hour there after. Subverted in that Cort hears (and tells The Lady about) the click that happens just before the clock strikes, to begin their draw.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Before Gutzon and The Kid fight, there's an extended sequence that shows them each loading their weapons. Much to vintage gun enthusiasts' surprise, Raimi has Gutzon sealing the chambers of his pistol with beeswax, something that was done as a matter of course on that model (1861 LeMat cap-and-ball) to prevent the possibility of a chain fire (one charge going off and igniting the others).
    • The overall selection of firearms is also quite interesting and in some sense realistic. Even though almost everything in the film is inflated and fairy-tale-Wild-West, many of the shooters actually use revolvers that were cheaply converted from cap to cartridge— a stark reality of the (supposed) timeframe. These earlier cap revolvers had to be loaded chamber by chamber with powder, then wad, then bullet, then pressed with a rod, then sealed with wax, then primed with little percussion caps— and they were the go-to weapons... until brass cartridge revolvers made them obsolete almost overnight. So the Kid in the film uses an expensive (about $15 before engraving) Colt SAA cartridge revolver that he loads with ammo familiar to us, but many others use former cap "FrankenGuns" that were converted to load familiar brass cartridges by the manufacturer or even local tinkerers. In the case of Cort's gun, you can plainly see the empty space where a crudely removed loading lever once was (this lever was used to press the round bullet into the chamber and compress the powder and wad inside).
    • Audiences at the time scoffed a bit at Sgt. Cantrell because he was a black gunslinger, but the filmmakers clearly showed their work when creating the character; he's established to be a former Buffalo Soldier, an all-black cavalry founded after the Civil War. Also, as many as a quarter of actual gunslingers on the frontier were black, since they encountered less racism than in the Deep South, and almost always were paid equal wages to white people even if they did.
  • Side Bet: Herod is shown making a bet on whether the Kid will win his first contest, but it's not revealed whether he bet on him or against him.
  • Sighted Guns Are Low-Tech: Lots of shooting from the hip, especially from Cort. Cantrell uses a "Bridgeport Rig" to hold his gun on his belt without a holster, allowing him to swivel it up and fire without drawing.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Herod doesn't organize the annual duel tournament for fun (a statement contradicted by his immense pleasure watching opponents die), but even he appreciates that the town has gone to hell since he took over, and its people will kill you for your bootlaces. He participates so he can face his enemies one-on-one, without fear of them shooting him in the back when he's vulnerable or off-guard.
  • Slow Clap: After Herod defeats Ace Hanlon, the crowd reluctantly breaks into this. Later, when Cort defeats Spotted Horse, Herod starts clapping, prompting everyone else to join in.
  • Slower than a Speeding Bullet: Ratsy tries to run away from Herod and ends up getting shot in the back. Granted, Herod had just told him to get out of town...
  • The Smurfette Principle: Lady is the only girl competing in the contest.
  • Smooch of Victory: The Lady is so glad to live through her first duel that she kisses the Kid, whose affections she's rejected before then.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: The Kid and Herod engage in one.
    Herod: The reverend here needs a gun.
    The Kid: There's plenty of other places in town to buy a gun.
    Herod: Nowhere as cheap.
    The Kid: I wouldn't know a place that's cheap enough for you.
    Herod: You know, your mouth gets faster every day. Pity your hands are so slow.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: Characters with the least amount of screentime in the introductory scene die the earliest, and behaving like a scumbag (as Eugene does shortly before his duel with Lady, or Ratsy does before Cort's with Herod) is a sure way to shorten your life expectancy. All of the surviving characters with dialogue at the end are white.
  • Spaghetti Western: Made by Americans, yes. But its corrupt, wind-swept and decaying wasteland punctuated with a mournful Ennio Morricone inspired soundtrack hits the genre's nail right on the head.
  • Staged Shooting: Cort shoots Lady in a duel arranged by Herod. Later, she turns out to be alive— they faked her death.
  • Start of Darkness: Herod's father, although a respectable authority figure, was a bit of a nutcase. Convinced there was too much evil in the world that had to be purged, he would regularly force his family to view hangings, desensitizing Herod to death. It got to the stage where he played a sick game of Russian Roulette with Herod and his mother, killing himself.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Lady is much taller than the other women, and doesn't even wear heels.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Just before the final duel.
  • Tae Kwon Door: After Ratsy shoves Cort to the floor, Cort kicks the door of the gun shop so it hits Ratsy in his face and breaks his nose.
  • Teach Him Anger: Herod has his mooks burn down the Mission where Cort works, so he'll be angry enough to want to kill him. Cort refuses to play along. Herod puts him in the competition anyway, confident that Cort's nature will reassert itself when his life is in danger. Herod's constant Kick the Dog moments are equally effective in the long run.
  • There Can Be Only One: When Herod changes the rules of the competition, to weed out the gunfighter the townsfolk hired to take him down.
  • Three Stooges Shout-Out: Scars was designed to resemble Curly Howard. Russell Crowe even described Sam Raimi as "the fourth Stooge".
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: Spotted Horse boasts that he "cannot be killed by a bullet" and points out his various bullet wounds, including one from a bullet that entered his head earlier that day. On being shot in the chest, he's able to stagger to his feet to try and kill Cort, who shoots him in the forehead this time; he briefly raises his gun arm in the air before he finally expires.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Eugene Dred. After losing a gunfight to the Lady culminating in her sparing his life, he staggers back into the Saloon to ambush her. He fires, narrowly misses, and is gunned down in self defence.
    • To a lesser degree, "Ace" Hanlon. He's a trick shooter with outlandish claims of being the fastest gunman ever, but he doesn't quit while he's ahead. He ends up getting challenged and killed by the real deal in the first round of the tournament.
  • Torso with a View: During the climax, Herod doesn't think he's been shot until he sees the hole in his shadow. In a variation on this, Cantrell receives a forehead with a view.
  • Tournament Arc: About 90% of the movie.
  • The Trope Kid: The Kid, naturally.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: The Lady has them throughout the movie.
  • Undertaker: The town has an undertaker who can tell the height of newcomers just by looking at them. While they're on horseback.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Herod forced his then-protege Cort to kill a priest who nursed them back to health. It is implied that this is what triggered Cort's Heel–Faith Turn.
  • Unorthodox Holstering: As the film centres around a quick draw competition, a variety of different methods of holstering are shown. Sergeant Cantrell goes for a pistol mounted on a swivel on his gunbelt, allowing him to shoot from the hip without having to draw his gun.
  • Unorthodox Reload: Herod's bodyguards have a habit of spin-cocking their Winchesters.
  • Use Your Head: Cort uses a backward headbutt to break Ratsy's nose for the second time.
  • Vapor Wear: The Lady clearly doesn't wear anything under her outfit, most obviously shown in the deleted sex scene.
  • Vertigo Effect: A barrage of truly dizzying ones lead into The Kid's duel with Herod.
  • Villainous Valor: Subverted; Herod really does want a fair fight with Cort and gets upset with Ratsy mangling Cort's hand and shoots Ratsy over it, but just before it goes down he orders his men to shoot Cort if he is the one still standing afterward.
  • Wall Bang Her: Lady and Cort's sex scene is done this way to show its frantic nature. The position has an additional advantage of showing off her hot leather pants when he grabs her ass.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: During the scene where the gunfighters are signing up for the Quick Draw Competition in the saloon, The Lady is sitting under a wanted poster listing "Rape" and "Murder." A few moments later when the camera angle shifts, you can see the drawing on the poster and the name of the wanted man: It's Virgil Sparks, one of the shooters who has just joined the competition.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: The Kid to Herod, because Herod suspects him of being the bastard son of his unfaithful wife. Cort also reveals that Herod recruited him as a kid and he wanted to be just like him, until Herod forced him to cross a Moral Event Horizon by killing a priest who nursed them back to health. To ensure he did so, Herod put a gun to Cort's head and started to count down.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: The Lady wakes up on a bed in the Kid's gun shop and the Kid says he won her in a poker game. The Lady isn't fooled, saying the last thing she remembers is the Kid passing out from too much booze.
  • Who Are You?: Herod asks this at the end of his dinner with The Lady, picking up on her hatred for him but not knowing who she is.
  • Worthy Opponent: How Herod views Cort when they first met. Time doesn't sweeten it, as it develops into a personal goal for him.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child:
    • Cort plays this straight when a mob of children gang up on him and start beating him with planks, but the Lady subverts this and sends them all running to their dad.
    • Gutzon tells the Kid he will only wound him. The Kid replies, "You're a kind man," and obliges him by doing the same.
    • Herod doesn't want to face The Kid in a gunfight to the death, and tries to get The Kid to withdraw, not because he's afraid he'll lose, but because he knows he'll win.
  • The Western: One of a dying breed.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Justified; Lady has never killed anyone before, and has been afraid of Herod since childhood. This makes her balk at shooting him on several occasions. It turns out she has killed someone— her own father, further explaining her reluctance. Most of the time when Herod is out and about, he's guarded by his posse of rifle-wielding thugs - just shooting him is a quick way to get filled full of lead. The only 'legal' way is to challenge him to a duel.
  • Wretched Hive: It's implied that Redemption became this as a result of Herod's reign.
  • You Are in Command Now: Cort becomes the town's new Marshall after Lady kills Herod.
  • You Have Failed Me: Herod does this to Ratsy after Ratsy oversteps his authority and breaks Cort's hand before the big gunfight. Herod does give Ratsy a running start, however.
  • You Killed My Father:
  • Young Gun: The Kid is by far the youngest competitor.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Herod and Cort, after Cort wins his first gunfight. The Lady to Katie.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Sgt. Cantrell's head doesn't exactly asplode, but what's left can't be structurally sound.