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DVD Review: Redemption

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We all remember the days when westerns were a big fad and though those days have long passed, every so often we are gifted with a surprise winner. In 2003 we had Open Range and The Missing to fit the bill, in 2005 The Proposition, and in 2007 it was 3:10 to Yuma and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford that took everyone by surprise. Joining the list of surprise winners is Redemption, an independent American western with sense of style and originality.

After being involved in a robbery with a gang of outlaws, Frank Harden (Dustin Leighton) decides things didn't go as planned. Frank feels the need to set things right and takes the road to Redemption, a town with something he believes doesn't belong there. Little does he know he will be encountering a nosy prostitute, a sadistic doctor, and a gun-slinging priest in the process of receiving lost goods.

I have watched this movie twice now, the first time disliking the film for its distractingly cheap and underdeveloped production but the second time appreciating its audacious approach, smooth dialog, and keen style for the old west. The more I think about it, the more I like it. It's a rare discovery.

Whores, whiskey, poker, gunfights, and revenge — this trashy and demeaning example of western culture is the classic representation of a western not afraid to be a western. It succeeds not in its set design or production values (both of which are pretty weak), but with its memorable characters, slick dialog, old school western styling, and story that faults only on minor plot holes.

Tediously paced, poorly lit at times, and with the feeling of being rushed into production, no one can assuredly dub Redemption a flawless work of art or a masterpiece of any sort. It's comfortable in its own skin and doesn't try to be anything it's not, which is where it succeeds entirely. It has the potential to become a cult hit, provided enough people see it. This is apparent from the opening scene. It's a sneaky little gem of a western that slowly tightens a noose of interest and pins you to your seat. The storytelling is fresh, the dialog even fresher, and it doesn't go without its moments of glorified B-rated gore. If you're a fan of westerns, you won't be disappointed with this surprise entry in the near extinct genre.

The special features are very impressive for an independent studio release. They include a behind the scenes bonus featurette with interviews from the cast and crew, a short special effects segment that displays the certain techniques used to enhance the lighting and set pieces in the film, a stills gallery, and the trailer for Redemption. The DVD will be available February 10.

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