Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die! (1968)

Ah, those childhood memories! Memories of old family traditions which included that my father would bring home every Bud Spencer and/or Terence Hill comedy he could get his hands on and triumphantly place them into my small hands. One time it happened to be “Stoßgebet für einen Hammer” (roughly translated as “Quick Prayer for a Hammer”). I watched happily – until my mother walked in and started giving my father, who had in the meantime retreated to his office, for allowing me to watch brutal Italian Western films containing bloodletting and rape.

To my father defence it must be said that he had no idea what he was pushing into the video-recorder. He couldn’t know that both Bud Spencer and Terence Hill had made some rather nasty Spaghetti-Westerns (in the case of Hill it was a rather violent “Django”-sequel) prior to their comedy-successes, which where now marketed by German video companies as “Trinity”, “Buddy” or “Hammer”-appendage.

Nostalgia aside, “Today we kill … tomorrow we die” earns a special place among the Spaghetti Westerns like Sergio Corbucci’s masterpiece “The Great Silence”. The story is relative simple: a honest, wrongfully convicted Bill Kiowa (Brett Halsey) is released from the goal and assembles a gang of gunmen (among them Bud Spencer) to take revenge on sadistic Elfego (Tatsuya Nakadai), the man who not only got him jailed but who also raped and killed his wife.

Bud Spencer has a mere supporting role here, playing a hard-hitting but essentially loyal gun for hire and Brett Halsey does a decent job as bitter but rightfully vengeful protagonist. However, the film is carried by Japanese actor Tatsuya Nakadai, who essentially plays a Mexican villain. The actor, who is better known for his works with director Akira Kurosawa, confirms the old saying that a film strives or dies through the villain, lending an air of constant threat while remaining both charismatic and exotic.

Giving it points according to the Spaghetti Western standards where “Django” get’s a 10 and “The Great Silence” is hard at it’s heels with 9 ½ points, I’d easily give “Today we kill … tomorrow we die” a solid 8 points. Just remember, dads: neither “Django” nor “Today we kill … tomorrow we die” are kids’ movies – even if they star Bud Spencer and Terence Hill!