Friday night movie review: ‘Shergar’

Setting ’em up and knocking ’em down… that’s what HN’s dedicated movie critic Amanda Ronan is doing with her comprehensive list of every horse movie ever made.Coming in at #17….

From Amanda:

Browsing the friendly, neighborhood Hulu I happened across the movie, Shergar (1999), starring Ian Holm and Mickey Rourke.

The movie begins with a double dog homicide. The masked criminal then creeps in to the house and points a gun at a man and wife lying in bed. We soon realize, however, that humans
are not their primary target. The true target is Shergar, racing champion and breeding stud.

Note to self, do NOT put a gold plaque with your horse’s name and all of his accomplishments on his stall door.

Shergar is roughly handled, albeit they found the time to throw his fetching Newmarket cooler over him, and loaded in to a horsebox. He is delivered to a nearby farm, where the horsenappers negotiate with the farmer and his wife to keep the horse. I was a little confused as to whether the farmer was in on the plan from the beginning or he was being threatened. Either way he agreed to consort with criminals so I didn’t think much of his “character.”

Enter our hero, a young man named Kevin who has a “special way” with horses and who just happens to idolize the famous Shergar. Over a bucket of water they become BFFs.

Meanwhile, the police and press are in a frenzy over the lost million dollar horse, and we are finally introduced to the main villain Gavin O’Rourke, played by Mickey Rourke.

Who I know as Ivan Vanko from Iron Man 2.

It must be said that he looks much more bad a** now then he did in 1999.

Anyway, as the story progresses one thing is clear, these villains, linked with the Irish Republican Army, will not get their $5 million dollar ransom and now the horse is useless to their
cause. They are going to kill Shergar and in Godfather fashion, send his decapitated head to the media. Kevin can not let that happen. Kevin wraps Shergar in his Newmarket cooler once
again and heads out in to the dark of night. They hide in an abandoned farm house for the night.

After a quick trip to town to buy some bread, a pound of cheese and six boxes of black hair dye, Kevin and Shergar formulate a plan.

Step One: Become incognito… hence all the hair dye.

Step Two: Find Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit.

Actually, in this movie Ian Holm plays Joseph, a penniless gypsy author, traveling the countryside with lots of stories to tell and lots of advice to listen to. Wait a minute…

After sharing a meal, Joseph and his granddaughter invite Kevin and the disguised Shergar to travel with them. Through idyllic scenes of trout fishing, gallops through grassy hills, and a very teen-angst driven scene involving Kevin and the granddaughter on a blanket under the stars, it is revealed that Kevin is an orphan who ran away from the orphanage several years ago and Joseph is a horse trainer looking for a jockey.

Not to be outdone, Shergar is likewise gettin’ his stud on with Joseph’s chestnut mare, Lady.

Then suddenly, O’Rourke meets an untimely end at a routine police stop. Unfortunately his henchmen remain on Kevin’s trail.

Fast forward to the gypsy-style steeplechase. Kevin rides the lovely Lady. This was truly the only “bad horse movie” moment of this entire movie. Kevin and Lady trail far behind the main
pack. Seeing his loyal boy and his mare struggle, Shergar lets out a squeal of encouragement that somehow boosts their speed but not their stride length (bad editing) and they pull to the
lead! Yeah they win!

But uh-oh… the henchmen were at the race and they recognize Kevin! To make matters worse it starts raining, and Shergar’s disguise gets washed off! Kevin runs to Shergar and leads the
henchmen on a huge chase through the woods and to the rocky cliffs along the coast.

Shergar and Kevin end up cornered between a horde of AK-47 wielding bad guys and the steep drop to the ocean.

I won’t tell you the dramatic ending but I will say that one year later… this little cuteness appeared.

This movie was based on a true story. As it turns out this story is only one of the conspiracy theories surrounding the unsolved mystery of the true Shergar’s disappearance. In real life
Shergar was never found, and no suspects were taken in to custody.

This movie wasn’t riveting, but it was solid rainy day entertainment. I give it 3 Golden Horseshoes.

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