Hey, everybody. I'm going to make a desperate plea here regarding what appears to be a forgotten classic. But before that, a warning/review of the current disc and a little backstory. Thanks to the great Spaghetti Western box sets offered by Anchor Bay and Blue Underground, I've had the opportunity to see and enjoy so many great films from that era. During that time, I picked up Christopher Frayling's "Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone". The book gave me a lot of background on Sergio Corbucci's work, who to the best of my knowledge, seems to be the number two guy when it came to setting the standard during the Spaghetti boom of the 60's and 70's. Blue Underground released "Django" and Anchor Bay released "Companeros", two of the three famous collaborations he did with Franco Nero. A quest to see the third, "The Mecenary", seemed pointless as the only existing DVD was a crappy bootleg that Direct Source offered and was now out of print. After examining the other two films and comparing them to Robert Rodriguez and Tarantino's work (specifically "Kill Bill vol. 2"), it was apparent that Corbucci left a pretty good mark on a few undeniably talented filmmakers today. After listening to "L'Arena" (from this movie) a few thousand times on the Kill Bill vol. 2 soundtrack, I finally gave in and tracked down a copy of the OOP bootleg. First off, BEFORE I get into the movie, let me say that this is the most offensively awful DVD product I have ever purchased. If you can get past the needless narration on the menu without throwing up, you'll find what is essentially looks to be a decades old VHS copy of the film that was taped off TELEVISION and POORLY at that with mistimed commericial edits that go directly into the next scenes. Not to mention the misframing and transfer, SO BAD, that frames in later scenes occasionally overlap into earlier ones. Need I mention the sound...? Second, it was painfully obvious that this film was never meant to be seen in standard/full frame format. Action is constantly off screen and much of the fight sequences are completely unintelligable in the 4:3 ratio. Yet, somehow, my friend and I were able to brave through these obstacles. "The Mecenary", from what I could make out, is one of the very best Spaghetti westerns I've seen. It easily holds up to the better films of the genre (surpassing some) and is a noticable improvement over "Django". The direction, characters and acting is terrific! It starts off at a slow pace, building a strong setup, and turns into an epic revolutionary war between Mexican rebels and the nation's army. Definitely another standout performance for Franco Nero, who takes his machine gun shenanigans to new heights. The film was clearly responsible for some of the visual stylings of "Kill Bill vol. 2" (which Tarantino even nods to during the credits), many of the character traits, plots and humor found in some of the "Mariachi" films.... and not too surprisingly, the final duel with Jack Palance was completely lifted for the duel between Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman in Sam Raimi's "The Quick and the Dead." For something so influential and well done as this film, it's staggering that it's not available in region 1. Now, I can't imagine that Bill Lustig (Blue Underground/Anchor Bay) or fellow DVD producer/enthusiasts such as himself haven't tried to get ahold of this film. However, the print on this disc starts up with "United Artists Presents". At first I was scared to death that this film was owned by MGM, straining the possibility of a decent release... until a friend of mine went on the hunch that Warner might have scooped up the rights. Sure enough, Turner Classic Movies has been running a restored print of the film on cable. Getting to my plea... is there any way in heck that we can spread the word on this terrific film, especially considering the fever pitch right now in releasing the films that the Kill Bill franchise is based off of (Lady Snowblood, Thriller, Fukasaku/Yakuza films, etc)? Also, is there any direct way we can influence Warner Brothers to release it on DVD? Thanks for any help on this, I really can't emphasize enough how I feel this is a kind of Spaghetti Rosetta Stone... As for the DVD I mentioned above, if any of you are desperate enough to seek out a copy, I warn you that I don't exaggerate that it's painful to watch a film treated so badly. It's even worse when you keep running through your head that Direct Source has managed to get their catalogue into regular retail stores... If you can wait, do yourself a favor and wait. I hope this helped.