The lives of two stoic cowboys and five abused Chinese women become intertwined in Walter Hill's sprawling miniseries "Broken Trail." Print Ritter (Academy Award winner Robert Duvall) and his nephew Tom Harte (Thomas Haden Church, "Sideways") agree to deliver a herd of 500 horses from Oregon to Wyoming.
Along the way, they rescue the young women ÌÎ_Ì´å most of them still just girls ÌÎ_Ì´å who're being transported to a brothel to have their virginity auctioned off. When the madam sees she is about to lose the girls, she screams at Tom, "What about my property?" He shouts back, "That's the price of being a capitalist, lady." Unable to overcome the language barrier, Print assigns numbers to the girls. Number 3, Sun Foy (Gwendoline Yeo, "Desperate Housewives") is the most fearless and perceptive of them. Though the others don't want to be called Number 4 ÌÎ_Ì´å an unlucky numeral in their homeland ÌÎ_Ì´å Ye Fung (Olivia Cheng), the most tragic of the group, doesn't care. Targeted for her beauty, she finds herself unable to overcome the trauma. The number suits her, in her mind.
Along the way, Print and Tom rescue Nola Johns (Greta Scacchi), the proverbial hooker with the heart of gold, who was forced into prostitution after her husband died.
The cinematography is gorgeous as the camera sweeps over the lush landscape (the Canadian Rockies subbing for the Wild West of the late 1800s) and Hill does a formidable job of pacing this three-hour drama with just the right balance of dialogue and action.
For Duvall, "Broken Trail" is the last piece to his Western trilogy, which started with the Larry McMurtry miniseries "Lonesome Dove" followed by the feature film "Open Range." He is instantly likeable as a father figure and the viewer never doubts that his intention for the girls is honorable. As for Haden Church, he has never been as appealing as he is in this role. Gruff and flawed, he softens when he exchanges shy glances with Sun Foy. The trek is long and hard and the unlikely band of travelers will face much hardship. If not as satisfying as the rich, detailed "Lonesome Dove," "Broken Trail" makes up for it with a wonderful storyline and some fine acting by all involved. As for the conclusion, it may surprise some viewers who are expecting a more traditional version of the happy ending.
- Actors: Robert Duvall, Thomas Haden Church, Greta Scacchi, Gwendoline Yeo, Chris Mulkey
- Director: Walter Hill
- Writer: Alan Geoffrion
- Producers: Alan Geoffrion, Chad Oakes, Christina Wayne, Damian Ganczewski, Michael Frislev
- Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
- Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Rating: NR (Not Rated)
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- DVD Release Date: September 5, 2006
- Run Time: 184 minutes
- ASIN: B000GFRI4K
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