The X-Women

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Retro Goodness - The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) is old school fantasy

Just re-watched this fantasy film and it still holds up today. Some may scoff and call it a cheese fest, but it's one of my favorites. I remember seeing this movie for the first time at age 13 and I thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. A swaggering hero, a totally evil bad guy, a  hot princess, a bad ass weapon called the Tri-Sword equals awesomeness! Released at the height of sword and sorcery popularity of the 80's alongside Conan, Krull, and The Beastmaster. While Conan is more loved by the fans, The Sword and the Sorcerer is a fun filled fantasy adventure with a style all it's own.

Popular screen baddie Richard Lynch is wonderfully wicked as King Cromwell, who raises the sorcerer Xusia (a heavily made up Richard Moll) from the dead to help him defeat his enemies to become the one true king of the known civilized world. Cromwell does succeed in killing King Richard and his wife but their young son Talon manages to escape. Now as the one king, Cromwell betrays Xusia and tries to kill him before the sorcerer leaps to his apparent death off a mountainside. Cut to years later as Talon, who has eluded Cromwell's soldiers, returns to this land for some payback. Talon is played terrifically by 80's TV star Lee Horsley and he comes across as a medieval Han Solo. Talon carries the awesome weapon, the tri-sword. It fires detachable blades from it's handle which comes in handy on several occasions during the movie. It's such a cool weapon. Talon rescues a princess named Alana from some of Cromwell's soldiers. Alana is played by the American born but exotic looking Kathleen Beller. Alana has a special knack for getting out of situations involving unsavory men. Let me just say it doesn't feel good to get hit in this area if you're a man. Alana recruits Talon to rescue her brother Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale from TV's Manimal) who is held prisoner in Cromwell's dungeons. Talon accepts and does free Mikah but is captured himself after a frenetic chase and battle with Cromwell's soldiers and then Cromwell himself. This scene has much derring do that will remind you of those days of Errol Flynn.

In the meantime Xusia makes his move on Cromwell seeking much sought after revenge. Oh and Alana is captured herself and is forced to marry Cromwell. Everything will come to a thrilling climax with sword fights, damsels in distress, magic, a prisoners escape, tongue in cheek humor and a final battle between Talon and Cromwell that is pure bliss. Topped off with a rousing music score. The main negative is that this is a low budget film and it shows in several scenes, but I think most people will bypass that and still enjoy this film. The entire cast is great, especially Lynch and Horsley. Their characters despise each other so much that it makes for a wonderful conflict. Horsley gets to do all kinds of heroic things even though he is a bit of a scoundrel ala Han Solo. He also gets to spout some cool one liners. Lynch is in full scenery chewing mode but doesn't go over the top. He relishes the part of the villainous Cromwell. Beller is also good as Alana and quite fetching. In fact there is plenty of eye candy on display with several scenes of scantily clad women and some all nude. It's never gratuitous though. And the violence while exciting is never graphic or excessive like the first Conan film was. A special shout out to actress Anna Bjorn who plays the servant girl Elizabeth in a memorable if all too brief role. She is a woman worth dying for as she comes across so compassionate and understanding. Also look out for Joe Regalbuto(from TV's Murphy Brown) as Darius, Talon's second in command. He oozes sarcasm throughout the whole movie, but he is also handy with a battle axe.

The Sword and The Sorcerer is a cool movie with no pretensions or delusions of grandeur. Just good escapist and thrilling fun.

Side note: There was supposed to be a sequel called Tales of the Ancient Empire almost immediately after this one came out. But it never happened, which is strange since Sword and Sorcerer actually earned more money than Conan the Barbarian upon it's release. But original director Albert Pyun has recently done a straight to DVD film finally coming out sometime this year. I saw the preview the other day but it doesn't look good at all. They have added vampires to the mix now. Probably due to all the Twilight hysteria. Anyway, we fans still have the original film to look back on and enjoy.

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