The Best Terence Young Movies You’ve Never Seen

Cold Sweat (1970)

Joe Martin’s life is something of a dream. He’s married, has a lovely step-daughter, and works as captain of a charter yacht on the coast of France. His happiness is shattered, though, when his past comes back to bite him in the form of the bad guys he left behind long ago. They’re the men he escaped prison with and then abandoned after they quickly turned to murder, and now they’ve kidnapped his family to force him into committing another crime.

Charles Bronson’s European travels from the late 60s into the early 70s gave him a nice vacation and movie lovers a handful of interesting films – there’s another one below! – and while the plot here might feel fairly generic there’s a distinctly European pacing to it all. We get to hang out with Bronson and Liv Ullmann as his wife, and even when the baddies arrive it’s with simmering menace more than outright action at first. The always welcome James Mason leads the gang and classes up their ranks through his presence alone.

Young captures the beauty of the French coast, but his greatest accomplishment might just be a smiling and relaxed Bronson. I kid. That’s legit great to see, of course, but more importantly Young delivers some thrilling action/suspense beats. We get a simple one early on as Joe disarms a gunman via a very cool (and simple) kick, but a later car chase of sorts delivers a far longer stretch of adrenaline-fueled fun along cliffside drops and oncoming traffic. It’s a solid and satisfying thriller.

Cold Sweat is available to stream and on Blu-ray/DVD.

Red Sun (1971)

When a violent train robbery nets the thieves a gift meant for the U.S. president it sets in motion a chase across the vastness of the American West. It’s 1870, and high-ranking Japanese visitors are en route to a ceremony where they’re meant to hand off an antique sword, but when the villains steal it, they find themselves pursued by an honor-bound samurai and the man they double-crossed and left behind.

This second of three films in a row that paired Young with Charles Bronson – the third is 1972’s The Valachi Papers – is a terrifically entertaining western that doubles as a mismatched buddy cop flick. Bronson’s Link Stuart is a badass but likable robber who’s only pissed off because his partner in crime has tried to kill him. Toshirô Mifune’s Kuroda, meanwhile, is far more of a badass and proves it with his every move. The two make an unlikely pair in attitude and appearance, and as the sub-genre dictates they move from insults to banter to true respect and friendship. It’s a beautiful journey that sees Ursula Andress and Alain Delon (as the big bad) along for the ride.

We get plenty of action along the way starting with the train robbery itself. It’s carrying Union soldiers who quickly get caught up in the fray with deadly results, and it’s just the first of several gun battles and fight scenes. The highlight, though, when it comes to the action is a non-violent scene featuring Link and Kuroda running down a hill together. It’s ridiculously steep, and while the cowboy quickly stumbles and tumbles the samurai shows remarkable agility – he even trips, somersaults, and then continues on his feet. It’s a crazy shot that’s all the more impressive for its simplicity.

Red Sun is available on DVD.

The Klansman (1974)

Sheriff Track Bascomb has his hands full keeping the peace in his small Southern town that’s home to a racist population and a black community who’ve had just about enough of their bull. When a white woman is assaulted and blames a black man the violence ramps up to deadly extremes leaving bodies on both sides of the race divide. A scheduled civil rights protest adds to the unrest, and soon no one is safe from man’s inhumanity to man.

Look, this is an undeniably ugly movie as its focus is the worst that mankind has to offer, and it doesn’t shy away from those horrible beats. Women are attacked, men are murdered, the N-word gets spat out so often you’d think you were watching a Quentin Tarantino marathon, and the KKK bastards even shoot the local liberal’s dog. Like I said, it’s ugly. Its hatred and cruelty are amped up at times to near comical levels, and while it sets up a narrative suggesting the good in some people can overcome the bad the film’s ending suggests we’re effed as a species anyway. Like I said twice now, it’s ugly, but for those of us with little faith in humanity, it’s a sadly engaging slice of Southern-fried exploitation.

The film’s not well-liked for several reasons, and it doesn’t help matters that two of its leads – Lee Marvin and Richard Burton – were reportedly drunk during production. Marvin hides it well enough to deliver a strong performance, but Burton? Hoo boy, that man is blotto from frame one as evident by his mumbled dialogue, fumbled lines, and clear disinterest in the entire experience. (His karate chop-filled fight scene is great fun though.) O.J. Simpson’s presence is equally conflicting as a revolutionary efficiently picking off KKK members throughout the movie, and on the less controversial side, the film also stars Cameron Mitchell, David Huddleston, and Linda Evans. I can’t argue really that it’s good, but as messy and mean as the film gets it works as an ugly commentary on America.

The Klansman is available to stream and on Blu-ray/DVD. (The physical disc from Olive Films is the way to go as it’s the only uncut release.)

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