Watch China 9, Liberty 37
- 1 hr 38 min
In 1978, the Western genre was on the decline, but China 9, Liberty 37 sought to revive it with a twist. Starring Jenny Agutter, Warren Oates, and Fabio Testi, the film follows Clayton Drumm (Testi), a convicted killer who is offered a pardon if he kills Matthew Sebanek (Oates), an aging rancher who refuses to sell his land to a railroad company.
Drumm carries out his mission, but Sebanek's wife Catherine (Agutter) convinces him to spare her husband's life and instead run away with her. Together, they embark on a quest for freedom and a new life, trying to evade both the law and the railroad company's hired guns who are now after them.
The film is set against the breathtaking landscapes of New Mexico, with the amber hues of the desert accentuating the story's themes of isolation and rugged individualism. The stunning visuals are complemented by a haunting and melancholic score by composer Francesco De Masi.
What sets China 9, Liberty 37 apart is its unconventional storytelling. The film's opening scene is a flash-forward to an ambiguous and visually striking sequence featuring three women, which sets up the film's themes of love, betrayal, and redemption.
The film also features non-linear flashbacks, which slowly reveal the backstory of each character and the events that led them to their current predicament. The fragmented narrative adds to the film's dreamlike quality, blurring the lines between reality and memory.
The performances by the leads are also noteworthy. Fabio Testi, known for his appearances in Italian crime dramas, delivers a nuanced portrayal of Clayton Drumm, a man hardened by life but not immune to the lure of love and freedom.
Jenny Agutter, who had previously starred in Logan's Run and An American Werewolf in London, brings a quiet strength and vulnerability to Catherine, a character torn between loyalty to her husband and the promise of a new life with Drumm.
Warren Oates, a familiar face in Westerns, delivers a memorable performance as Matthew Sebanek, a man who knows the value of his land and the price he has to pay to keep it. Sebanek's pragmatism serves as a foil to Drumm's recklessness.
China 9, Liberty 37 also subverts some of the genre's tropes, particularly the portrayal of women. Catherine is not a damsel in distress, but an active participant in the story's events, making her own choices and taking decisive action when needed.
The film also features a diverse cast of supporting characters, including Native Americans and Mexican immigrants, which adds layer of authenticity to the portrayal of the Old West.
China 9, Liberty 37 may not have been a box office success upon its release, but it has since gained a cult following among fans of the Western genre and cinephiles. Its unconventional storytelling, stunning visuals, haunting score, and strong performances make it a standout film in a genre known for its conventions.
China 9, Liberty 37 is a 1978 action movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 38 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.0.