Lucky Ned Pepper heads up a gang of outlaws, and comes up against Rooster Cogburn, Texas Ranger La Boeuf, and Mattie Ross when he aligns himself with Tom Chaney. Chaney is being hunted by the oddball company, and to get to him, they have to exchange gunfire with Pepper. Things get complicated, ugly, and dangerous as you well remember from the 1969 original. Pepper was played by Robert Duvall the first time around. It's probably the closest the Coens have stuck to the original casting, as Pepper's acting style and looks are quite similar to Duvall's.
Pepper is one of those actors who has been toiling in supporting roles for years. He's always good, but he's never managed to crack into mainstream recognition. True Grit might just be the movie that finally pushes him into the public's awareness, so he's no longer "That guy!", he'll be Barry Pepper, the man who survived the mess that was Battlefield Earth. I think he's due for a little luck after that, don't you?