Italian theatrical release poster
Directed by Sergio Martino
Produced by Luciano Martino
Screenplay by Sauro Scavolini
Sergio Martino
Story by Sergio Martino
Starring Maurizio Merli
John Steiner
Sonja Jeannine
Donald O'Brien
Philippe Leroy
Martine Brochard
Music by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis
Cinematography Federico Zanni
Edited by Eugenio Alabiso
Devon Film
Medusa Distribuzione
Distributed by Medusa Distribuzione
Release dates
13 August 1977
Running time
101 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian

Mannaja (also known as A Man Called Blade) is an Italian 1977 Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Martino. The main role, Blade, is played by Maurizio Merli. Other central roles are played by John Steiner, Sonja Jeannine, Donald O'Brien, Philippe Leroy and Martine Brochard.

Mannaja is an unusual spaghetti western, in that it contains some symbolism and emotional scenes that give the viewer the feel of an adventure or horror film, particularly in the opening scene in the swamp, and the scene in the cave. Mannaja has been compared to a contemporaneous film called Keoma (1976). Like other spaghetti westerns it is sometimes rather brutal, and contains fairly graphic depictions of murder with an axe. It was banned in Sweden.

The film was released on DVD in 2002 (Region 2).


Bounty hunter Blade (Maurizio Merli), who uses a tomahawk as a throwing weapon, arrives at the mining town of Suttonville with the outlaw Burt Craven (Donald O'Brien) as his prisoner. His real motive is to kill mining big boss McGowan (Philippe Leroy) who has killed his father. Blade gives up his revenge – because McGowan “is not worth it” – and instead accepts to deliver the ransom for the mine owner's daughter (Sonja Jeannine). However, this mission fails because she turns out to be the lover of her kidnapper, McGowan's foreman Voller (John Steiner), who secretly works for a gang that regularly robs the shipments of silver from the mine. Voller then kills his boss and turns his mining empire into bloody chaos by massacring the mine workers. Blade is beaten up and buried up to his neck and left to be blinded by the sun. However, he survives and returns for a showdown with Voller.



In his investigation of narrative structures in Spaghetti Western films, Fridlund ranges Mannaja among stories obeying the "Tragic Mercenary” plot where the pursuit of a monetary motive entails the killing or wounding of someone close to the hero, who then sets out on a vengeance mission. This story appears in the very influential Django. In the case of Blade his economic arrangement with the man he should have killed sets off a course of action leading to him being tortured and to the death of the showgirl Angela, who loves him. The situation where a kidnapped woman betrays her savior because she is the lover of her would-be abductor also appears in Ten Thousand Dollars for a Massacre - another "Tragic Mercenary” story.[1]


  1. Fridlund, Bert: The Spaghetti Western. A Thematic Analysis. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Company Inc., 2006 pp. 133-34.
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