Broken Trail is set at the end of the 19th century, a time in America when Chinese immigrants were treated worse than livestock. Five young Chinese girls are sold into slavery by their families to the creepy trader Captain Billy Fender (James Russo). The girls are destined to be the new, “exotic entertainment” (prostitution) at a saloon (brothel) in a neighbouring mining town.
Meanwhile, ranch-hand Tom Harte (Thomas Haden Church) is busy at work when his estranged uncle Prentice “Print” Ritter (Robert Duvall) rides on in. Print has some bad news to deliver — Tom’s mother has died and left the family farm to Print, not Tom. Print also has a business proposition and wants Tom to be his partner. He wants to mortgage the family farm to buy 500 mustangs and transport them to Wyoming where a war profiteer will pay top dollar. Tom agrees to his uncle’s plan and they set out on the trail from Oregon to Wyoming, 800 miles across the harsh frontier.
Are the cow-hands and the slaves destined to meet? Find out after the jump.
Along the trail Tom and Print meet up with Captain Fender, who camps overnight with them. Fender offers them tainted whiskey and in the morning they wake up to find that he has taken off with Print’s money but left four of the Chinese girls behind. Tom gives chase and returns with the money and the fifth girl. He had to hang Fender with one of his best ropes, and Tom’s not very happy about that. Print is compelled to do the moral thing and takes them in. He names them One, Two, Three, Four, and Five; they in turn call him Hunkle Pren. As they continue their journey to Wyoming, the group reluctantly has to take in more passengers in the form of Lung Hay (Donald Fong), a Chinese translator, and a battered prostitute, Nola (Greta Scacchi).
Meanwhile, Kate “Big Rump” Becker (Rusty Schwimmer), the brothel owner who paid for the girls, is getting anxious for their arrival. She asks bounty hunter Ed “Big Ears” Bywater (Chris Mulkey) to find her property. Bywater couldn’t care less about some missing girls, but after Kate tells him a startling truth, he angrily rides off with vengeance in mind.
Print and Tom are obliged to protect the girls and travelling companions yet also have a responsibility to deliver the horses to their destination. The situation has gotten complicated and even more dangerous knowing that their rivals are intent on kidnapping the girls for their own purposes…
Broken Trail is a two-part TV miniseries with a run time of 184 minutes; it is rated 13 (LV). In 2007, it was a winner at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards snagging Outstanding Miniseries, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Thomas Haden Church), Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Robert Duvall), and Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries or Movie.
This Blu-ray release presents the film re-mastered in High Definition (HD) and comes with special features including:
- The Making of a Western Classic — interviews with cast and crew, and behind-the-scenes footage.
Broken Trail was kindly supplied for review by Nelmari Claassens, SterKinekor Home Entertainment Marketing Manager for Sony Pictures. Go to www.bluraydisc.co.za to view the latest Blu-ray news, reviews and competitions featured on SterKinekor Home Entertainment’s newsletter. Sony Pictures can be found on the Web at www.sonypictures.com.