Beverly Hills Western
Randolph Scott did it, Clint Eastwood also did it and I know there are many more? What am I on about, they starred in a western about a good man looking for revenge and finding themselves helping a small group of people against some bad guys. That brings me to "The Pledge" or "A Gunfighter's Pledge" as it is sometimes referred to, a western which stars Luke Perry as a good guy looking for revenge for the murder of his wife and son and ends up helping a widow try to defeat an evil land baron. It is totally unoriginal and to be honest Luke Perry tries his hardest to look and sound like Clint Eastwood but for a modern made for TV western "The Pledge" is not terrible.
Having learned that Tate (Kim Coates) the man he arrested has escaped on the way to prison, Sheriff Matt Austin (Luke Perry) goes looking for him but returns home to find that Tate has been there and killed his wife and son. Handing over his badge to his deputy Matt starts the trek to hunt down Tate and his brother Hogan (Chip Sickler) which leads to a gunfight in a dangerous town. But during the gunfight, where Tate escapes, Matt accidentally kills Eddie (Alex Paez) a rancher looking to hire gun hands to help him protect his land from evil land baron Horn (C. Thomas Howell - The Poseidon Adventure). Feeling a debt needs to be repaid Matt heads to Eddie's ranch where he meets his sister Amaya (Jaclyn DeSantis) and sets about helping her and her son protect the land from Horn and his men.
If "The Pledge" is the first western you ever saw then it would work, the storyline, the characters and the action would be sufficient to entertain. But the trouble is that if you like westerns then "The Pledge" is as unoriginal as they come and there are very few differences to other greater westerns. From Matt being a lawman looking for revenge to him helping fight an evil land baron it is all textbook western stuff, nicely put together for a TV movie but still textbook. In fact the only real difference to other westerns is the fact that Matt is the one who kills the innocent Eddie, although I would imagine that has been done before as well.
So with "The Pledge" basically being a traditional western and a made for TV one it does feel a little copycat and that brings me to Luke Perry. Now whether intentional or not Luke Perry as Matt Austin is doing Clint Eastwood, the beard, the hair, the whispering growl and the tall but silent it is too similar. Although having said that considering this is a TV movie Perry pulls it off, making Matt nicer than one of Eastwood's characters. And to be honest the other major part that of Horn played by C. Thomas Howell is just as unoriginal, maybe having a different look than other evil land baron's but still a very familiar character. I could go on from ranch hands to pretty women and a son who wants to fight it is all very familiar, traditional western characters just played by newer actors.
The thing is that "The Pledge" whilst no where near to being as good as a big screen western works as a TV movie. It has that easy to follow aspect and whilst there is action and death it is all clean cut. In fact the action isn't bad, a bit overly choreographed and edited to look fancy but in a way seeing Luke Perry quick draw or spin a gun is what is needed and that is what you get.
What this all boils down to is that "The Pledge" is a text book western, it is an old story used again with just some newer actors and done in a way that it works as a TV movie. It's not a serious western contender but if you want a bit of simple, good looking western entertainment as background noise then it works.