The Horsemen is a would-be epic stretched thin across Hollywood’s ‘profound peasant’ tradition. It’s a misfire, despite offbeat Afghanistan locations and some bizarre action sequences.
Omar Sharif, son of rural Afghanistan clan leader Jack Palance, is injured and humiliated (he thinks) in a brutal ritual soccer-type game played with the headless carcass of a calf. Returning home in company of his now treacherous servant (David De) and a wandering ‘untouchable’ out for his money (Leigh Taylor-Young), Sharif’s leg is amputated below the knee in a remote mountain village. Back with his clan, Sharif forgives De and Taylor-Young for two attempts they made on his life and then trains hard to reestablish his honor and reputation as the greatest horseman in the area.
Dalton Trumbo’s cliche script, based on the novel by Joseph Kessel, opts for the kind of mock-poetic dialog even Hugh Griffith might have trouble mouthing. Sharif, however, maintains his composure.