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Light the Fuse… Sartana Is Coming Review

Sartana as a character had been coming and going for a couple of years before the release of Light the Fuse… Sartana is Coming. It was at this stage in the series, the final of five main staples to the Sartana brand of spaghetti westerns. To go out with a bang seemed inevitable. Consistency was key for the series, and the final feature of the series, helmed by Giuliano Carnimeo and starring Gianni Garko, is a nice, informal send-off to the character. The two had chemistry, and collaborating on three of the five Sartana films, it was safe to say they had found their rhythm with this final instalment.

Surely so, as Sartana (Garko) wheels his way through town on a machine gun organ. Those early seeds of vibrant entertainment were planted early on, and suffice to say, it is time to harvest such crops. Light the Fuse… Sartana is Coming feels like an exceptional, last-ditch attempt at cultivating interest in the western genre. It was out for the count, but there were glimmers of hope such as this. Garko and Gianni know it, their work here suggests they are pulling out all the stops. Effectively, they have nothing to lose. Both established themselves as formidable voices within the spaghetti western, and rightly use this to leverage maniacal, expressive moments throughout.

Within this final edition of the Sartana series is the last hurrah, one typical of a dying genre pulling out all the stops. With some great dedication from Garko, the character cements himself as a worthy competitor to the likes of Django, Sabata and the Man with No Name. Does Garko offer the same legacy-defining material as Lee van Cleef or Clint Eastwood? I would argue he does, yes. He plays with the action tropes the former two made popular but puts a spin on them that suggests a tongue-in-cheek approach. Still the gritty cowboy, marching on into the sunset as he is blasted under a fire of bullets, but with a change of face. There is growth to be found across these five films, which is a rarity for a genre that relied on the same few characteristics, highlighting the lack of growth, rather than the maturity of character.

It is not often a series can survive so long, yet in such a short frame of time. A strong and consistent accomplishment, the Sartana pentalogy is living, breathing evidence that the spaghetti western could grow stronger as a character piece, rather than just gunfights and gore. Blurring the two is the best of both worlds, and Light the Fuse… Sartana is Coming does just that. Acknowledging the built-up frustrations of the hypermasculine anti-heroes, the series comes to terms with its character, the misgivings and frustrations of a gun-toting rebel. Garko brought life to that, with a lot of help from the narrative found in For a Few Dollars More. Too much of a good thing? Maybe so, but Light the Fuse… Sartana is Coming is a fun rip on the stronger notes of the genre, swapping out the Eastwood morality for the Garko glory days.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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