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Sword and the Sorcerer, The
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by Jack Sommersby

"Robust, Colorful Entertainment"
4 stars

Took in just under $40 million off a $4 million budget, making it quite profitable at the time.

The handsome twenty-seven-year-old Lee Horsley makes for quite the indelible leading man in the enjoyable fantasy-action picture The Sword and the Sorcerer, with his performance so witty and assured it's somewhat amazing his only other acting assignment was in a short-lived TV series the year before. As the dashing mercenary Talon who hires himself and his fellow warriors out to peaceful kingdoms to thwart evil rivals, Horsely doesn't go for cheap macho posturing, electing instead to cannily underplay along with a magnetism that really comes across on the screen - he's a born entertainer who can read a particular scene and know exactly how to play it, vivifying his work just enough without egotistically detracting from the overall whole. (He's the very definition of an unselfish performer.) Chock-full of sex appeal and charisma, Horsley is absolutely first-rate as the righteous Talon, and he perfectly counterbalances a movie that can oftentimes be wonderfully over-the-top; he keeps things proportionally balanced so the production never veers into schlock - he humanizes it and lends it gravitas. When Talon was a child his king of a father was violently overthrown by the dastardly Cromwell (a perfectly menacing Richard Lynch) who slayed both his parents and crowned himself the most powerful leader in the civilized world; nine years later Talon is given the opportunity to exact revenge when he's hired by the beautiful princess Alana (a luscious Kathleen Beller) to rescue her captured brother Mikah (a fine Simon MacCorkindale) from the clutches of Cromwell. Also vying for Cromwell's head on a silver platter is the supernatural fiend Xusia (a frightening Richard Moll) who was double-crossed some time ago by him - he (or it) can tear one's heart out with its glowing pulsating fingers. The screenplay is pretty much devoid of ratiocination, with some of the plot elements downright arbitrary at times, but the debuting director Albert Pyun has enough visual imagination for ten of his type, and though the narrative drive is decidedly lacking, being a newbie working with a major studio with a reasonably big budget for the first time this can pretty much be forgiven in light of the numerous striking images we're afforded, with a cave wall of screaming bloody human heads appropriately unsettling. Also noteworthy are an unusually sophisticated, dexterous sound design and a good deal of humor that figure into the proceedings. This is far from my favorite subgenre in the world, but the commendable The Sword and the Sorcerer gets the job done more often than not. Visually distinctive and performed with aplomb, it's something of a minor classic that's superior to John Boorman's clunky Excalibur - with an identity all its own it instills in the viewer what undemanding movies can be all about when they're conceived and engineered with pure cinematic passion.

The Anchor Bay DVD is adequate, but a remastered Blu-Ray would be a real plum.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=22592&reviewer=327
originally posted: 09/26/20 18:31:12
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  01-Apr-1982 (R)
  DVD: 24-Apr-2001



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