Brigands: The Quest for Gold Can’t Quite Stand Out In A Saturated Market

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: April 23, 2024
Previous ArticleView all
Brigands: The Quest for Gold Season 1 Review
Brigands: The Quest for Gold | Image via Netflix




Brigands: The Quest for Gold is a very competent period drama that probably doesn’t do anything well enough to really stand out in a crowded genre.

Brigands: The Quest For Gold opens with a quote about the ambiguous definitions of the word “rich”, which is probably fair enough. In a monetary sense, it’s a pretty obvious descriptor, but in relation to post-unification Italy, it’s a bit more nebulous. The land of Palermo is poor to some, but to others, it’s a bounty of potential, ready to be ransacked. That Season 1 kicks off with this reminder is telling.

The political undertones – reminiscent of Song of the Bandits, a Korean historical drama, also streaming on Netflix – are the most surprising thing about Brigands. I went in expecting a fun swashbuckling adventure, and I did get that, but with surprising doses of historical context and female empowerment for good measure.

It’s a little unwieldy, though. So many characters and competing motivations can be difficult to parse, so look out for that. But “bored housewife becomes fearsome bandit leader” is pretty straightforward as far as elevator pitches go.

As ever, there’s some gold at stake. After the reunification of Italy, Palermo’s bank was depleted to pay for the war. The loot is buried somewhere, and the map leading to it is – all together now – currently missing.

Giuseppe Schiavone (Marlon Joubert), aka Sparrowhawk, tracks the map to a landowner named Clemente Degli Orti (Gianni Vastarella) in the town of Basilicata. Clemente does indeed have the map and intends to use it to find the gold with the help of a military leader named Fumel (Pietro Micci), recruiting soldiers from poor families to act as cannon fodder for the brigands who are likely to ambush them in the woods.

Don Clemente is married to Filomena de Marco (Michela De Rossi), who stabs him in the neck after he tosses her in a well (just go with it.) She tries to escape and falls in with a family of brigands, who aren’t inclined to trust her but can’t resist her offer of lining their pockets with the contents of her now-late husband’s safe.

Brigands: The Quest for Gold Season 1 Review

Brigands: The Quest for Gold | Image via Netflix

In the meantime, Filomena takes the map from the safe for herself, and to avoid a death sentence, Sparrowhawk agrees to find her on behalf of Fumel.

Filomena is the obvious selling point of this series, as well as being the narrative focus, which is useful since there’s a lot going on and it can be difficult to keep track. Among the rather generic subcategory of “bandits”, she strikes a new-looking figure, and early worries that she’s mostly just a woman-in-a-man’s-world archetype fall by the wayside.

The characterization is supported by solid plotting and character writing, and on a technical level, Brigands undeniably impresses. The production design is very nice and the landscapes – some lighting issues in nighttime scenes notwithstanding – are often stunning.

There are, if you’re looking for them, some clues that the scale of the production wasn’t gigantic, but in a way that makes the overall effect more impressive.

Like almost every other genre these days, though, period dramas are ten-a-penny on streaming platforms, and it’s difficult to say whether one will stand out from the crowd. On that basis, Brigands: The Quest For Gold has its work cut out, and I’m not sure it does enough differently to suggest it’ll be a major hit.

But it will be a well-liked curio among those who’re into such things, and in the bustling media climate of 2024, perhaps that’s all a show can reasonably ask for.

If nothing else, it’s nice that international productions about very specific moments in time can find legs on a global scale, and that the obvious care and effort that has been taken in their creation is plain to see.

If you’re interested, I also broke down the ending of Brigands: The Quest for Gold in a bit more depth.

Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
Previous ArticleView all