Outlaws attack a band of settlers and kill everyone except a pregnant woman who’s rescued by a band of Indians. The woman dies giving birth but Chief White Bear adopts her male baby, naming him “Shining Sky,” and raising him as brother to his own son, Black Wolf. The boys grow up together and good-naturedly compete for the affections of pretty Rising Star. In a competition, Shining Sky accidentally kills Black Wolf, is forced from the tribe, and finds work in a nearby town where he pretends to be a mute. A townswoman named Isabella flirts with him but when he spurns her she yells “Rape!” Bart Ryder, henchman of the local “Colonel,” runs Shining Sky out of town, hangs him by the wrists, and leaves him to die. Crazy Bull rescues Shining Sky and takes him back to the Indian village where he’s reunited with Rising Star. Ryder, however, seeks to finish the job of killing the “White Apache.”
dinky-4 of Minneapolis
User Reviews: You see, the thing about Westerns is that the whole spiel about the laconic man of action is a myth. Oh he may stand and stare and spit and smoke, but eventually he is going to open his pie hole and say something, and it had better be memorable. Or at least funny, poignant, witty, sarcastic, even poetic depending on who wrote the script. This is why you don’t see actors like Dolph Lundgren or Sylvester Stallone making Westerns. No matter who dubbed their voice or wrote the script, whatever their character might say at the moment of truth would come across as the words of a big meathead.
WHITE APACHE has the same problem. It’s hero is an archetype in search of a one-liner or two. Family is killed by slobbering cracker gang, who are in turn slaughtered by Native Americans, who take the baby of one of the womenfolk in as their own and raise him into Dolph Lundgren. Dolph falls in love with the only blue eyed squaw, kills his adoptive brother and finds himself cast out of the tribe — ALL IN THE SAME DAY! — and finds himself drawn to a community of white people who are all racists, bigots, sleazebags, murderers, cutthroats, and proud of it. An alien even amongst his own folk, the guy draws the ire of the local Dennis Hopper mad dog villain (played by one-time Spaghetti supporting regular Charly Bravo, who is unrecognizable) by just standing there and staring as his gang roughs him up.
See, this is where the problem lies: Your average Clint Eastwood or Anthony Steffen or Gianni Garko type would have said something as the fists started to fly that would have been three times as brutal as the punches. Or someone like Eli Wallach or Tomas Millian would have used it as the launching pad for a soliloquy on why they are a bunch of pig-dogs. Instead, Dolph stands there being beaten, and since it’s only a movie we know he isn’t *REALLY* being beaten and his hair still looks like a rock star’s at the end of it, the result is a null sum gain. Drooling evil white guys: 1. Poor misunderstood proto half-breed: 0.
The film does have one great performance, with frequent Margheriti supporting actor Luciano Pigozzi as the friendly local businessman who takes Dolph in to work as a stable hand. Pigozzi doesn’t do or say much that is memorable either, but just seeing him on screen is such a pleasure that the movie becomes more enjoyable just via his presence. The other cast member of note is longtime genre character actor José Canalejas, here somewhat absurdly cast as a soothspeaking Injun medicine man and unlike Mr. Bravo easy to recognize under his silly looking wig and feathers.
Which brings me to the subject of the film’s somewhat duplicitous racial agenda. The movie’s central theme is the racism that Dolph is subjected to by both his own people (the whites) and his adoptive people (the Injun tribe), creating an interesting problem of whom to root for during certain scenes. The assumption by the filmmakers is that we will end up rooting for Dolph, though frankly beyond being a pincushion for Mr. Bravo’s thugs to push around he doesn’t give us much reason to root for him. The film’s most interesting moment comes when he rather stoically confronts his white woman squeeze with her own racist beliefs and she turns the tables by ripping open her skirt and screaming RAPE! Beyond that the movie’s formula is very easy to predict, the ending a foregone conclusion, with the requisite torture scenes, sex scenes, exploitation scenes, fight scenes, atrocity scenes and mystic Injun going postal scenes to qualify this as an Apache Atrocity & Revenge potboiler. Director Bruno Mattei would concoct a more potent and lurid version with SCALPS the following year, which may be a nastier movie but is probably a better movie if only because the hero has some decent lines.
3/10: Recommended for fans of Italian made Westerns. Anyone else will probably need to watch it drunk.