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Film / The Sabata Trilogy

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"Sabata" is the English title of Italian Spaghetti Western "Ehi Amico... C'e Sabata, Hai Chiuso!" That is: "Hey, Friend... That's Sabata, You're Finished!"

That should clue you in as to what kind of movie you're watching.

Sabata begins as a group of acrobats rob a small town bank, killing the guards and making off with the safe. Luckily, mysterious drifter Sabata (Lee Van Cleef) just happens to be in town; he kills the fuck out of them and brings the safe back before the posse even leaves. Taking a small reward for his actions, Sabata digs a little further/kills some people and learns that three prominent citizens were behind the theft. He blackmails them, causing them to respond by hiring wave after wave of mooks to kill him. Backed by knife-throwing ham Carrincha and silent acrobat Alley Cat, Sabata takes them all, upping his price each time.

The second film, despite being marketed as Adios, Sabata, wasn't originally meant to be a Sabata film, as indicated by its name, which translates to, Indio Black, you know what I'm going to tell you: You're a big son of a .... They decided to change it in order to cash in on the success of the first film.

It's even crazier than its predecessor. Seriously.

Yul Brynner plays Ind-Sabata, a stoic badass armed with a bizarre sawed-off rifle fed by a magazine containing seven bullets and one cigar. Set during the 1867 Mexican Revolution, Sabata gets involved with odd group of rebels: Escudo, the leader, essentially Carrincha from the first movie, played by the same actor; Gitano, whom Escudo orders to do the "Flamingo of Death" whenever he executes someone; Septiembre, who kicks musket balls at his enemies; and Ballentine, who keeps trying to rob them and whom Sabata inexplicably keeps alive. They plot to steal Austrian gold to finance the resistance, but the gold turns out be dirt, having already been stolen by monocle-wearing villain Colonel von Skimmel. To keep his secret, the evil villian sends waves of derby-hat-wearing Austrians to kill them.

Lee Van Cleef returns to play Sabata for the last film, Return of Sabata (Sabata is back ... to end another time). Sabata is once again trying to get money, this time from a lieutenant he knew in The American Civil War. This is considered by almost everyone to be the weakest film; there's much less shooting and much more camp, to the point where it feels like Van Cleef is playing a different character.

This series provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Carrincha.
  • Animesque: One of the first western movies to use tropes that are to this day most commonly associated with shonen manga and kung fu movies, most notably a hero with a unique weapon, a colorful cast of characters who could all kick your ass in a variety of colorful ways, and in the first movie a rival with his own unique weapon.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Adios, Sabata takes place during the French occupation of Mexico... and its villains are Austrian soldiers. Presumably the writers noted that Emperor Maximilian was Austrian and cavalierly ignored everything else.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Stengel in the first movie and Colonel von Skimmel in the second.
  • As You Know: O'Hara chews out Stengel for orchestrating the robbery in order to get money to buy land, which the railroad would someday pay him for, all for his greed, and to satisfy his mania for greatness, which is why he took that foolhardy step.
  • Bastard Bastard: Hero or not, Sabata is generally ruthless and self-centered, and the third film reveals he's the Son of a Whore. The same is true of opportunistic quasi-ally Clyde in the same film.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Quite a bit, but extra points to Septiembre, who can do it by kicking balls at people.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: One bad guy gets off some Evil Gloating, leading to a non-sequitor of a comeback.
    Skimmel: with a gun on Sabata Do you remember our shooting contest in Louisville? You were the only one to ever defeat me, Sabata. Pity you won't have another chance to beat me.
    Sabata: Who knows? Sometimes an idea is enough. throws knife and kills him
  • Book Safe: Ballantine, though he doesn't know it.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the first film, Sabata has a habit of flicking silver dollars to people, and is accurate enough to toss one into the coin slot of a player piano from across the room. At the end of the film, he flicks one so it hits the trigger of Stengels' sword gun as it is lying on the table: killing him with his own weapon.
  • Cigar-Fuse Lighting: In Sabata, Carrincha uses his his cigar to light the fuse on the dynamite after they have trapped Stengel's men in the box canyon.
  • Cool Guns: All of the old-school favorites from the Old West period, but Sabata's four-barrel derringer with an additional three-shot derringer concealed on the handle, Indio Black!Sabata's harmonica magazine-fed lever-action rifle and Banjo's banjo-concealed "mare's leg" with an elongated lever (so it can be used while the rifle is inside the banjo) take the cake.
  • Curse Cut Short: The original title of the second Sabata film, Indio Black, you know what I'm going to tell you: You're a big son of a .... has it. The final line of this film is a Title Drop and, sure enough, the film cuts right on time to prevent the "bitch!" from being heard.
  • Decoy Getaway: In Sabata, Alley Cat dons Sabata's trademark Badass Longcoat and hat and tricks Stengel's men into pursuing him instead of Sabata: leading them into an ambush in a box canyon.
  • Denser and Wackier: The second film.
  • Dirty Coward: Stengel, despite his smug lectures on the superior man, is pretty much this.
  • Dramatic High Perching: Alley Cat spends all of his free time standing on rooftops.
  • Evil Gloating: It goes with being a pompous evil aristocrat.
  • Germanic Efficiency: Invoked in the second movie by Skimmel, who gives a brief speech about the efficient, logic superiority of Austrians.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Sabata can fire his derringer well beyond its mechanical accuracy, and that's just getting started.
  • Improbable Weapon User: In the first film, Sabata's derringer and Stengel's cane gun. In the second, Sabata's rifle, and Septiembre's musket balls. Not to mention, Skimmel's galleon model with functioning cannons turned into a deadly trap.
  • Instrument of Murder: Banjo, who always walks around with a banjo, keeps a rifle inside of it.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: In the third film, four men face Sabata in a duel to the death because he got their sister pregnant and didn't stick around afterward.
  • Large Ham:
  • Mauve Shirt: Manuel in Adios Sabata is just a nondescript revolutionary guerrilla, but, unlike several Red Shirts, he avoids being killed during the initial gold heist along with the more quirky and developed characters (Sabata, Escudo, Ballantine, Gitano, and Septembrie). When he dies about half an hour later, it's treated with some gravitas.
  • One Bullet Left: Banjo, after Sabata fires four shots from his four-barrelled derringer, makes a dive for his rifle... only for Sabata to shoot it away with a second gun stashed in the derringer's grip.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Alley Cat.
  • Pocket Protector: Carrincha's medal.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner
  • Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": Carrincha. Then again, almost every line he says has him bursting into insane cackling so laughing while killing people isn't that weird with him.
  • The Quiet One: Alley Cat only ever communicates nonverbally.
  • Sedgwick Speech: "There's not a Winchester going that can shoot half that distance..."
  • See You in Hell: "Write it down in your little book, Blondie, I'll make a date with you in hell."
  • Shout-Out: Take a shot everytime Adios, Sabata, makes a Shout-Out to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
  • Straw Nihilist: Stengel in the first movie and von Skimmel in the second. The latter sure loves to say that he's a "superior man".
  • Stuff Blowing Up: With dynamite or nitroglycerin, depending on the movie.
  • Sword Cane: In the first film, Stengel carries a cane gun that fires a steel dart.
  • Tasty Gold: In Sabata, Carrincha attempts to sell his medal to Banjo to raise drinking money. Banjo bites the medal at which point Carrincha admits that it is not real silver and not actually worth anything
  • Title Drop: In the Italian version when Banjo fails to kill Sabata at Las Palos. Carrincha to Banjo: "Ehi, Amico... C'e Sabata, Hai Chiuso!" The English dub uses "Hey, Amigo! That's Sabata and you lost, eh?" (the actual translation of the Italian title is "Hey, Friend... That's Sabata, You're Finished!")