Set in 1897, Print Ritter (Duvall) and his estranged nephew Tom Harte (Hayden Church) become the reluctant guardians of five abused and abandoned Chinese girls. Ritter and Harters attempts to care for the girls are complicated by their responsibility to deliver a herd of horses while avoiding a group of bitter rivals, intent on kidnapping the girls for their own purposes.
An exceptional, realistic and invloving western.
- Broken Trail review by Shatner's Bassoon
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You rated this film: 5
Loosely based on a true story, ‘Broken Trail’ tells the tale of Prentice Ritter and John Harte. While working as a low paid ranch hand John is visited by his Uncle Prentice who informs him that his mother has passed away and has left him nothing but a handwritten letter, leaving the family estate to his Uncle. As a way of reconciling with his estranged nephew Prentice offers John a partnership in a deal he’s been planning, transporting 500 horses across three states from Oregon to Wyoming where they will sell for a good profit. What begins as a simple horse drive in which two men reconnect an old family bond soon becomes complicated when they cross paths with a slave trader transporting five young Chinese slaves to a mining town where they will be sold as prostitutes. When the slave trader double crosses them they find they are left with five Chinese women who are alone and cannot speak a word of English, deciding to do the right thing they take the women along on their journey hoping to find a safe home for them. But if the journey of herding 500 horses wasn’t already hard enough, they soon encounter more troubles along the way. For a two part made or TV film ‘Broken Trail’ is simply exceptional. The quality of acting is superb, Thomas Haden Church puts in a solid performance and there is really no one who can play a wise, canny old southerner any better than Robert Duvall. The directing is also of high quality with the hugely experienced Walter Hill at the helm who paces the story perfectly. The cinematography is just nothing short of spectacular, it would be great to see this get a Blu-Ray release because even on an upscaling DVD player the numerous landscape shots of the lush North-Western plains were simply breathtaking. If you’re a fan of ‘Deadwood’ then this is something you’ll want to see, while slightly tamer than ‘Deadwood’ it does have the same character depth and the sense of decent men who try to do the right thing in violent times, and even if you’re not a fan of westerns I would still recommend this as it’s just an all round great story and a truly fulfilling experience.