Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Review - The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982 - Dir. Albert Pyun)

Many years ago, I saw the end of a sword and sorcery film on my televisual entertainment system. The reason why it stuck in my mind was a sword fighting scene incorporating someone having their face chopped down the middle in full gore-o-vision. The problem is, I couldn't remember the title. I thought by doing a sword and sorcery season I might be able to track down this festival of bloodletting.

Well, I found it. Straight away. There's the shot of the head being split in two. There's even an effectively gory transformation of a man into an evil, monstrous sorcerer. But that's it. Odd bits, but not much. By the time I got to the good parts, I was already fairly disappointed by what had come before. The ending does pick up a smidgen with some buckling of the swashes but the majority is just dull.

The score tries to convince you otherwise. Obviously taking its cue from the previous year's Raiders of the Lost Ark, the composer is basically a bare faced thieving article. I don't have too much of a problem with that if the images actually match the music. There are so many iconic moments in Raiders and Harrison Ford is such a charismatic lead. Not so in The Sword and the Sorcerer. Lee Horsley, who plays Talon, has all the charisma of a gherkin. Actually, no: gherkins have way more. This is a fatal flaw in an adventure film. Couple that with the uninspiring villain Cromwell (Richard Lynch) and the film falls flat. The sorcerer in the title (Richard Moll) would have made a far better antagonist, but sadly he gets nowhere near enough screen time.

I was really hoping this would be better. The front cover makes the film look way better than it is. The story is so standard issue that without any fun or excitement, it's a real waste of time. The writing was on the wall when Robert Tessier (The Lost Empire) appears as a prison guard. I suppose I have to be thankful for small mercies: it wasn't Deathstalker. But very close.

If you like this you could also try:
The Lost Empire, Wolfhound, The Beastmaster, any of the Deathstalker films (if you are a real masochist).

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