For the price that they made the movie, there are several things that this has going for it. The sets, which I’m sure were used for a dozen other films from the Corman Factory, are not bad. The make-up effects are also passable, they are at least as good as some of those 70s films that I love , like “At the Earth’s Core“. They are a little cheesy, but you know that’s the case going in. Frankly, I’m not sure why this did not win the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, since nearly every woman in the film is draped in the most beautiful of all God’s coverings, her own skin. This is an grindhouse, exploitation film aimed squarely at the market made up of horny adolescent boys.
So with all that going for it, why isn’t it better? The short answer is that the director can’t stage an action scene, the actors are allowed to froth at the mouth and they aren’t really cast as froth at the mouth types, and the story, which is a direct ripoff of “Yojimbo” is told in an extremely lazy fashion. But don’t get me wrong, as terrible as the movie is, I still enjoyed it.
[Warning: The following page does contain nude images. Just in case that’s not what brought you here.]
David Carradine, (That’s Two Carradine Brothers in the same week/”Chose Me“) is a mysterious dark warrior who strolls into a primitive village where the locals are enslaved by two warring factions who trade control of the only water source for the town, as a result of frequent combat. Basically, after getting the lay of the land, the warrior plays the two sides against one another, trading his sword skills, and inside knowledge for money from both sides. If he’s not betraying one side, he is betraying the other.
There is also a woman being held captive, who was once a powerful sorceress but has been reduced to the status of captive. The one side wants her to make for their leader a magical sword that cannot break. I frankly can’t understand why, since neither side seems capable of using a sword against their opponents. For the first two thirds of the movie, the two sides back away from fighting, and the only swordplay they engage in is practice.Oh, and they need a lot of practice. The sorceress has no background story, no name, no personality and no where to go in the story except to be a pawn by the dark warrior. She also has no clothes. The two sides in the confrontation seem to hold their village captives in some kind of thrawl, using the scarcity of water, but that is never explained. At the end of the movie, the villagers revolt, and they fight back. I suppose they are inspired by the Warrior, but they never act very inspired. They keep starring at the two sides waiting for something to happen and it never does until the very end. There is a scene in which one side calls out the other, because the dark warrior is fighting with them, but as each side starts to get close to the other, the other side backs up as if they are afraid they will get something on their tunics.
It really is one of the most ridiculous things you will ever see in what is supposed to be an action film. They just back away from the action until an intervening force distracts them and then suddenly they are allies.
There are a dozen elements ripped off from the Star Wars series. As the Warrior first approaches, he is spied upon by tall Jawas. The leader of one of the conquering bands is a stand in for Jabba the Hut, complete with a puppet based sidekick. When the Warrior is attempting to rescue/steal the Sorceress from the dungeon she is held in, a tentacled creature grabs him and pulls him toward a disembodied mouth full of teeth, shades of the sarlac pit. It goes on and on. The fight sequences, when they do happen, are slow and done in real time which is a nice change of pace from all the quick cutting that goes on in films today. Unfortunately, they are not choreographed beyond the bare minimum, and they are staged in such a static way that there is no energy or excitement. David Carradine looks bored through most of the movie and appears to be cutting as many lines from the script as possible. Character actor Luke Askew, who is familiar from dozens of TV shows and movies, is the other leader of a warring tribe, and he looks like he has never held a sword in his life before he was cast in this film.
Six years before “Total Recall”, the Corman Studio found an actress with additional assets to suggest a sexy mutant. OK, so they are prosthetic, it is still a pretty clever fantasy visual. although it mostly made me think of a dairy instead of something sexy.
This movie clocks in at around eighty minutes or so, which means it will probably be over before you get bored. If you looked at all the pictures on this post, you will know the movie’s main assets and be able to decide if you want to endure it for yourself. I must have had enough of that teenage voyeur in me to get me into a theater to see this in 1984. I can tell you though, even as a grown man with better taste than thirty years ago, I’d still rather watch this again over “Rhinestone” or “Bachelor Party“. At least the people who made this knew it was crap.