No Name and Dynamite bills itself as a “classic action-packed Spaghetti-style Western”. And the opening does have its share of action as No Name (Chris Northup, Ironclads, Toy Soldiers) pops out of a coffin to deal with a gang of stagecoach robbers. Elsewhere, Dynamite Davenport (Rich Ting, All of Us Are Dead, Unborn) takes care of some bank robbers.
The pair are bounty hunters, and the next time we see them they’ve teamed up to deal with Black Jack Bennett (Vernon Wells, The Road Warrior, Bearry) and his gang. But things are about to get really interesting as a man hires them for protection, an actor by the name of John Wilkes Booth (Eli Cirino).
Despite it’s rather episodic nature, No Name and Dynamite’s first half hour passes pretty quickly with plenty of gunplay and stuff blowing up as we get introduced to our leads. No Name is a gunslinger and, as you may have guessed, Davenport prefers to blow things up. Which can be a problem when you need proof that you got your man. He’s also Chinese-American and has a very low tolerance for racists, of which there seems to be plenty.
While the rest of the film does settle into something a bit more story driven than the opening, the plot never really matters that much. The duo are joined by a female gunslinger Pearl (Natalie Burn, Fortress, Hard Night Falling) and, while they plan to turn Booth in themselves, No Name and Dynamite, both the characters and the film, keep getting sidetracked by people they meet along the way.
While the story and violence in No Name and Dynamite certainly try to emulate the original Spaghetti Westerns, the film never really manages to duplicate the feel of them. One big problem is the film’s effects. There are various body parts on display throughout the film. Hands, an eye, what I think was a brain and a severed head or two. Unfortunately the props are so fake looking they’re laughable rather than shocking.
The same is true of the film’s CGI blood. At best it’s obviously computer generated and at the worst it ruins scenes that should have been effective. At one point a woman is shot point blank and a huge part of the screen is covered by what looks like a hand animated red blob. And no amount of digital “print damage” can hide that.
If No Name and Dynamite’s poor effects aren’t a deal breaker for you, director Errol Sack (Station 4, Die for a Dollar) does know how to stage a decent gunfight and, along with his co-writers Clint Lilley and Steven Shaffer works them into a plot that never really takes itself too seriously and tosses several outrageous twists at the viewer. And, for once, the sets and costumes look dirty and worn enough to look authentic rather than costumes off a rack and a well maintained Western tourist attraction.
No Name and Dynamite is obviously meant to be the first film in a franchise, some pre-credits artwork even giving a hint as to the next film’s plot. If they were to bring the quality of the effects up that’s something I could be interested in seeing. But the amateur level ones on display here kept pulling me out of the film and spoiled it for me.
Surprisingly No Name and Dynamite is a Vision Films release. They tend to put out more family friendly films like Reel Monsters and The Prototype and this is only the second film I’ve seen from them that would probably get an “R” rating. It’s currently available on VOD and Digital platforms with the DVD scheduled for a March 8th release.