Straight Western Delivers Action & Fun Characters

Big Kill is a refreshingly straightforward western, hearkening back to an earlier and simpler era of filmmaking. This isn’t a movie pandering to audiences that dislike westerns. The enjoyable indie production, directed and written by Scott Martin, stars headliners like Jason Patric, Lou Diamond Phillips and Christoph Sanders. Big Kill also includes a small cameo role by Danny Trejo. Despite a few problems overall like an over-baked western score that could have been more polished, Big Kill’s embrace of traditional western storytelling works to its clear advantage.

Big Kill isn’t trying to make a statement with its storytelling or characters. It wants you invested in its tale of gunslingers and bad guys running roughshod over a small town. If you’ve seen classic westerns from the 1950s and 1960s, the premise will ring familiar. A gentlemanly accountant from back East, Jim (Christoph Sanders), has gone out West looking to join his brother on the frontier. The brother has regaled Jim with tales of Big Kill, Arizona as a prosperous mining town in letters back home.

Jim needs guides on the rugged trek to Arizona and comes across two roguish miscreants willing to take him there, Travis (Clint Hummel) and Jake (director Scott Martin doing acting duty as well). Travis and Jake ramble from outpost to outpost, gambling and generally getting into mischief. Their reputation precedes them everywhere they go and local authorities are always pushing them out of town. The two men quickly bond with the naive and inexperienced Jim. They are the protagonists in Big Kill’s freewheeling western adventure.

The town of Big Kill isn’t quite what Jim’s brother promised. When the trio arrive, they encounter a rough element running the dying town, including a preacher (Jason Patric) that believes in salvation by the gun. Another gunslinger named Johnny Kane (Lou Diamond Phillips) has heard of Travis and Jake’s prior misadventures and warns them to leave his town. In classic western fashion, a conflict ensues that drags in half the town.

A few things don’t work as well as intended by director Scott Martin. The hilariously over-the-top score recalls classic western flourishes. However, it often comes off like a parody of Morricone. The musical homages to older westerns could have been tempered.

there’s laughs and fun characters like the sexy killer assassin Felicia Stiletto

The opening scene with Danny Trejo’s general character from the Mexican Army is a shrill and lazy scene, feeling at odds in tone with the rest of Big Kill. I recognize that Trejo’s name on the poster is a home video draw, but his token role looks tacked-on at the last minute to fit him in. It also has some of the most manic quick cuts seen in a western. The opening scene with Travis and Jake running from the Mexican Army is practically cut like an MTV music video.

The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously despite some heavier emotional moments. There’s laughs and fun characters like the sexy killer assassin Felicia Stiletto. Travis and Jake share an easygoing comedic chemistry as two buddies that get to play off Jim, an uptight gentleman unaccustomed to life in the wild wild west. It’s a tried-but-true formula that works in Big Kill’s standard western framework. There is even a sweet b-plot of Jim courting the local shop girl.

Big Kill runs a bit long at over two hours. Pacing isn’t a real issue, but chopping down both the opening and closing scenes into tighter sequences would have markedly changed things for the better. Some may take issue with the last act, which includes one of the least believable stand-offs in recent history.

A solid cast and compelling characters make Big Kill fine entertainment for western fans.


Distributed by Cinedigm, Big Kill looks quite good on Blu-ray. The 2.39:1 presentation takes full advantage of New Mexico’s scenic imagery and Big Kill’s stunning panoramic cinematography by Mark Atkins. The main feature runs 126 minutes on a BD-25. This is what you call a pristine and consistent presentation that falls shy of being demo material.

Minor banding in the adequate AVC video encode isn’t a real issue outside of a few small moments. The 1080P video possesses outstanding definition in razor-sharp clarity. Clearly a product of digital filmmaking, Big Kill exudes crisp picture quality. The contrast could be richer, Big Kill has over-blown white levels that lead to brightness.


Big Kill’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio has a nice array of surround activity that envelops the listeners with ambient cues. Gun battles have a nice sense of directionality and strong separation across the soundstage. A lively low end helps set the tone. A few odd quirks aside in the recording and mix, it’s a serviceable surround presentation.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font, remaining inside the scope presentation.


A slipcover is available. As you can see, no special features are included.

Dead Ant Trailer (02:17 in HD) – This lone extra on the disc plays before the main menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Big Kill
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


A rousing old-fashioned western adventure with clear-cut morality and fun characters. Nominal headliners Jason Patric and Lou Diamond Phillips aren’t the main focus but ham it up as dangerous gunslingers in good form.

User Review
3 (1 vote)

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