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The Deceivers - The Merchant Ivory Collection
The Deceivers - The Merchant Ivory Collection
Actors: Pierce Brosnan, Saeed Jaffrey, Shashi Kapoor, Helena Michell, Keith Michell
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
PG-13     2005     1hr 42min

India, 1825: the country is being ravaged by the Thugees, cult members also known as "The Deceivers," who commit robbery and ritualistic murder. Appalled by their activities, English Captain William Savage undertakes a haz...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Pierce Brosnan, Saeed Jaffrey, Shashi Kapoor, Helena Michell, Keith Michell
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Pierce Brosnan, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Merchant Ivory
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 01/18/2005
Original Release Date: 09/02/1988
Theatrical Release Date: 09/02/1988
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 15
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 07/07/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is an interesting exploration of the Thuggee cult of India, as it existed in the mid nineteenth century. Members of this cult worshipped the goddess, Kali, and were called "Thugs". Known to each other through secret phrases and rituals, the Thugs, who were an organized group of professional robbers, had a most interesting modus operandi. They would kill innocent travelers by garroting them with a weighted scarf, relieve them of their worldly goods, and then bury them so that they would seem to have vanished off the face of the earth. During their existence, members of the Thuggee cult were estimated to have killed over two million people, before being wiped out by the British, with the cooperation of the existing Indian government of that time.This film, based upon a book of the same name by John Masters, explores this ancient, secret society. It features Pierce Brosnan as a British officer, William Savage, who comes upon this cult in action. He further investigates, but his efforts prove futile, until he manages to infiltrate this cult, disguised as a native of India. He does this with the aid of a Thug, who believes that the goddess Kali has turned her back on him.As the film progresses, Gophal, as William Savage now calls himself, becomes enmeshed in the activities of the cult. So great is his involvement, that he is in danger of losing himself to its tenets. It is as if he were undergoing a personal psychosis. It is not until his Thug informant realizes what is happening to him and tries to assist him, resulting in British troops coming to the rescue, that Gophal/William snaps out of his role playing. It is William's infiltration of the Thuggee cult, however, that is the catalyst for subsequent action taken to wipe out this evil and murderous society.This film, shot entirely in India, is well acted, for the most part. The only problem is Pierce Brosnan, who, in the lead role, is decidedly miscast, though he does a more than passable Indian accent. He is simply not a good fit for the role. Nonetheless, this is still an intriguing film that deals with a little known, though fascinating, segment of Indian history and worth watching."
Underrated classic
Miles Goosens | Nashville, TN USA | 08/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"THE DECEIVERS is a surpisingly captivating film, seducing us as well as the main character -- before any of us know it, we're all caught up in the Thuggee world. The movie wisely underplays its hand, eschewing narration and letting us follow Captain Savage's descent into near-madness. The movie also deserves plaudits for not giving us a cut-and-dried "happy ending," making the film far more haunting than if the filmmakers had left things neat and tidy.Pierce Brosnan turns in a sterling performance as Captain Savage, capturing every nuance of his situation. Some reviewers have singled out Brosnan's performance for faint praise or outright disdain, but I can only figure that they're reacting to the "Bond" image rather than actually viewing Brosnan's performance (or bothering to truly evaluate and understand his career, which is punctuated with many challenging roles and first-rate performances, from a bit part in THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY to THE FOURTH PROTOCOL to THE TAILOR OF PANAMA). Make no mistake, Brosnan's is a great performance, and THE DECEIVERS may be my favorite of his films."
"You Are Hers, She Is Yours" ~ The Sweetness of Kali
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 06/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Based on a John Masters novel, Merchant Ivory Films brings to the screen a true and deeply disturbing tale of dark spirituality from exotic India, circa 1825.

Pierce Brosnan plays the part of William Savage (a rather interesting choice for a last name considering the subject matter of this film), a British Captain who accidently uncovers the existence of a sinister cult of assassins dedicated to the service and worship of the bloodthirsty Goddess Kali. They are the "Thugee", meaning 'deceivers' and they wander the mainroads disguised as holy pilgrims or jewel carriers. They befriend unwary travellers encountered along the way and quickly earn their trust, all the while intending to rob and kill them when night falls.

Unable to gain the support of his superior officers to help stamp out the robberies and ritualistic murders being carried out by this evil cult, Captain Savage decides to try and expose the Thugee cult by becoming one of them. He disguises himself as Gopal, a local villager who mysteriously disappeared some months earlier. This is an identity that he has taken once before. Gopal's wife has been plagued with re-occurring dreams of her husband's death since his absence and she now considers herself a widow. As was the custom of the time, she had decided to proceed with the ceremony of sati, self-immolation on a funeral pyre. Captain Savage had been successful in his brief masquerade as Gopal, fooling the distraught woman well enough to bring about a temporary postponement in her impending death. But would this same disguise work with the Thugee?

The disguise works and soon he is drawn into the inner circle of the Thugee. Initially utilized as a gravedigger, he is forced to passively observe the horrific ritual murders carried out by the assassins. However, in time his desire to destroy them is slowly but surely overshadowed by an evergrowing fascination with their ways and the black Goddess. He receives instruction in the strangulation methods used by the sect and is soon proficient in the process. Though he has yet to kill, it seems only a matter of time before he does.

The moment of truth is fast approaching. Gopal/Captain Savage is warned by Hussein, a fellow deceiver and the only one who knows his true identity, not to take part in an upcoming Thugee dedication ceremony to Kali. A form of communion will be taken amongst the believers distributed by a Priest of of the Goddess. It's just a small cube of sugar called the "sweetness of Kali", but it has been consecrated to the Goddess. To eat of "the sweetness" is to belong forever to Her. Convinced that his God is more powerful than this primitive Hindu deity he doesn't heed Hussein's warning and partakes of Kali's gift as the Priest recites, "You are Hers, She is Yours."

The ceremony turns out to be more powerful than anticipated. The spirit of Kali has now completely overshadowed the once honorable Captain and before long he strangles his first unsuspecting victim.

What an amazing depiction of psycho-spiritual transformation and the inherent dangers of tampering with ancient and powerful occult forces. The total interior devastation wrought upon Captain Savage is absolutely heartbreaking. You can almost sense the presence of Kali joyfully dancing in the unholy flames of the "burning ground" at the conclusion. She is truly the Goddess of Destruction. This film is all the more disquieting knowing it was based on a true account.

Filmed in India, the cinematography artfully and faithfully captures the time period and locations in this exotic tale of exploration into the darker corners of Hindu spirituality. Wonderful performances by all, especially Pierce Brosnan, Saeed Jaffrey (Hussein) and Neena Gupta (the widow)."
The great game & the enchantress Kali
Doug Anderson | Miami Beach, Florida United States | 02/11/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is a Merchant/Ivory film before they became masters of their craft, nonetheless this is a worthwhile film for those interested in the secret society of Kali worshipping assassins known as Thugs(pronounced Tugs), a society which some historians believe began as a pagan cult in ancient times. What makes the Thugs so dangerous is that they are consummate actors and so able to pass themselves off as respectable citizens and thus befriend their victims. Furthermore the cult is impenetrable to the British who seek to flush them out because even those non-thug Indians who know of the thugs existence either fear reporting them or tolerate them because they serve a goddess.
Captain Savage is a soldier who at the beginning of the film finds himself attracted to an Indian woman about to commit sati. In an attempt to save her he 'goes native'. This Indian woman has captured his desire more than his new wife. As we get to know him we can see he is particularly vulnerable to the mysterious allures of the land he is in. In the Indian disguise which he takes great pleasure in wearing he begins to uncover the secrets of the Kali sect but as he uncovers the secrets of their strangely sensual form of murder he also becomes attracted to it for the pleasure of serving Kali it is said elicits the greatest bliss.
In a moment of deep delirium Captain Savage now in deep cover and a member of the sect he is investigating goes over to the other side....or does he?
The film leaves no doubt just which side Captain Savage comes out on but I won't spoil it for you. The film is admittedly as gaudy as the subject matter, nowhere near the majesty of later Merchant/Ivory productions, but it is a fascinating study of the strangely malleable nature of colonial identity.
The best acting here is done by the Indian actors, the English parts are all played by mere mediocrities. Brosnan plays the lead and, well, he does an adequate job. An actor with a believably dark side would have been better suited to take this perilous journey."