"Oh Crocodile Queen, your people salute you."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 10/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Devil's Sword (1984) aka Golok setan came out at a time when the Indonesian film industry was thriving (it subsequently crashed in the 1990s), cashing in on various genres popular at the time including the fantasy genre, which came about primarily due to the popularization of the game Dungeons & Dragons in the late 1970s. Directed by Ratno Timoer (Revenge of the Ninja), the film stars popular Indonesian actor Barry Prima (Primitif, Special Silencers), who's probably best known for his character Jaka Sembung from the `Warrior' films. Also appearing is Gudi Sintara, Advent Bangun (The Warrior and the Blind Swordsman), Enny Christina, and Kandar Sinyo, most of who seem to have had a very limited career in film, appearing only in this feature.
As the film begins we see a wizened old man sitting on the ground, his meditations interrupted by a meteorite crashing to Earth. From the meteorite the old man fashions a mystical weapon (it's very glittery) so powerful, he ends up stashing it away for fear it might fall into the wrong hands. Anyway, seems there's evil power about in the form of a being known as the Invincible Crocodile Queen (Sintara), who resides in an underground lair (complete with crocodile motif) and takes sacrifices from a local village in the form of young men to satiate her lusty needs (which seem to be unquenchable). As of late the village has been slacking, so the queen calls upon a powerful warrior minion named Banyu Jaga (Bangun), who appears from exploding rocks, to disrupt a marriage ceremony for the village chieftain's daughter (Christina) by kidnapping the groom, which he does. Eventually this leads to another warrior getting involved, one named Mandala (Prima) as Mandala and Banyu Jaga both studied under the same master. Eventually Mandala confers with his master, who was seriously wounded and left for dead while fending off an attack of evil warriors, to which the old man passes along the secret location to the Devil's Sword, which happens to now reside somewhere within the Mountain of Swords. As Mandala starts off on his quest to retrieve the powerful weapon (with the princess in tow), the Crocodile Queen calls upon Banyu Jaga to recover the sword, the intent being to use it to rule the world...um, okay. Turns out the sword is coveted by a number of Banyu Jaga's brethren, enough so they battle each other, all while Mandala makes the perilous journey to the mountain where he eventually must face off against a slew of even greater challenges, including a shoddy looking ten foot tall Cyclops guarding the sword. As you can imagine things ultimately come to a head as Mandala and the princess (who's got some skills) end up facing off against the Crocodile Queen and her flunkies, many of which are dressed like crocodiles, in the age old battle of good versus evil...
This is one hell of a funky movie as the makers of the film seem to have taken a whole mess of elements, thrown them into a pot, mixed rigorously, boiled it up good, and spilled out the contents onto celluloid, the result being a story that doesn't make a whole lot of sense (there's a lot of little bits I filled in for myself based on speculation), but is actually entertaining in a markedly cheap and sleazy sort of way. At the very least the story did have some linear qualities, so it really wasn't all that difficult to fill in the blanks once things got moving, and speaking of getting moving, know this, the opening credits are spread out through the first ten minutes which was kind of odd as while you're watching whatever it is you're watching, some credits will pop up initiating a `what the hell?' response. What the story may lack in sense it makes up for in wild and wooly action sequences, which are spread fairly evenly throughout. The choreography isn't all that hot, but I did enjoy the copious blood spurting sequences as various peons and flunkies meet their demise through numerous forms of dispatch including, disembowelment, amputation, decapitation, and so on...as is usually the case the villains were far more interesting than the heroes, sporting cat-o-nine tails whips, snake staves, flying guillotines, etc. As far as Banyu Jaga, he utilized dual, curved swords that he would often stick together to form a wicked pair of hedge clippers, extremely useful in removing victim's body parts, particularly their heads. And then there's the Crocodile Queen herself...as I said, she lives in an underground lair, her throne made up to look like the maw of a giant crocodile, surrounded by a legion of crocodile men (guys in cheap reptile suits). Also present is a giant, silver crocodile statue, standing on its hind legs. The statue is functional as well as ornamental, as it spews fire from its mouth along with laser beams from its eyes. The queen, who's about the best looking female in the film (at least until the end when she reveals her true self), can often be found engaging in a group canoodle, taking on up to seven(!) guys at a time (I guess it's good to be the queen). Surprisingly, given the amount of snogging within the film, there's almost no nekkidness, except for a faraway behind shot of some female minions. There's a couple of really funny bits throughout the film, probably the funniest for me occurring during Banyu Jaga disrupting the wedding early on...nearly everyone gets involved in fighting Banyu Jaga including the villagers, the chieftain, his daughter (who's getting married), and so on...the only one who doesn't get into the scuffle is the groom, who seemed to me somewhat of a milquetoast, and certainly not worth battling a horde of enemies over to retrieve. I did learn quite a bit from this film including the following...
1. The best swords are those forged from glowing meteorites.
2. Crocodile queens are easy to get into the sack.
3. Crocodile queens have a problem with snogging (they can't get enough).
4. A blessing from a crocodile queen usually involves some between-the-sheets action.
5. Boulders can be used as modes of transportation, specifically if you kick a large enough one into the air and then jump on top of it (that's one sweet ride).
6. A parasol can be used effectively to keep a powerful enemy at bay.
7. A cannibal pit is a useful feature for getting rid of minions who've outlived their usefulness.
8. The best way to deal with snakebite is amputation with a white hot sword.
9. If you want to keep a powerful, mystical sword out of the hands of evil, it's probably best to hide it somewhere other than in a place known as the Mountain of Swords as that'd be the first place I'd probably look if'n I were hankering to get my hands on it.
10. A flying guillotine weapons is a pretty cool way to remove one's melon.
11. Having a legion of crocodile men at your disposal is not as cool as it would seem especially given the fact they can not fight for squat.
12. The cycloptic guardian within the Mountain of Swords is ridiculously easy to beat (hint, go for the ocular strike).
13. One would think given the build up tied to a weapon in a movie like this (heck, it's even in title of the film) one would see a whole lot of action involving said weapon, but one would be wrong.
14. Nothing gives a fantasy film that `fantasy' feel like smoke emanating from tons of dry ice thrown in the water.
The picture on this Mondo Macabro DVD release, presented in widescreen (2.35:1), enhanced for 16X9 TVs, looks clean and decent, while the Dolby Digital stereo audio comes through clearly. There are a few extras including a poor looking original theatrical trailer for the film, a featurette titled An Encounter with Barry Prima, which amounts to an impromptu interview with the star who doesn't seem all that keen on being interviewed, a text history about the film, a text piece titled Heavenly Swords: A History of the Sword, and a preview montage of other Mondo Macabro DVD releases.
Wild fantasy adventure!
GialloFan | OH USA | 06/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Crocodile queens, Crocodile men, guillotine hats, one eyed monsters... This movie is truly out there. A non stop feat of fantastic visuals and over the top kung fu action. It stars the great Barry Prima too. One of the best fantasies out there and this gorgeous transfer from Mondo Macabro is truly eyepopping. Be sure to check out the Prima interview... very very strange!
Swords, Sandals, Crocodile Men, And Flying Woks
Robert I. Hedges | 02/21/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Devil's Sword" is a tough movie to get your mind around: it's an Indonesian fantasy film inspired by Dungeons and Dragons featuring some of the worst production values ever. The film opens with a crazy old guy making a magical sword, and abruptly changes course to show us an underwater village in Indonesia where they are welcoming the "invisible queen" back from the briny depths. Through the spectacle of special effects (involving a towel dangling on a string by the looks of it) the queen becomes visible: she is revealed to be the "crocodile queen," and has decorated her abode accordingly. Please note the tasteful bed in the giant golden jaws of a crocodile, and the large gold crocodile statue ornamenting her personal fire pit. Around this time in the film the credits decide to show up, and continue to do so intermittently for about the next fifteen minutes. The music (by Gatot Soedarto) is an annoying 1980's electronic variety and plagues the film for the duration; likewise, please note that E. Muksin Hamzah edited the film. Perhaps someone could take away his scissors now; this is one of the choppiest, most ineptly presented films ever.
The premise of the film is that the queen has an insatiable desire for young men, so she sends for her evil minion and uber-warrior, Banyu Jaga (Advent Bangun) to capture a young groom from a wedding. Banyu Jaga interrupts the wedding to kidnap the groom, but, starting a trend, fighting breaks out. There is magic and sorcery to go along with a lot of leaping around, kung fu, and knifeplay. The fight seems to last forever, but just when the issue seems decided the good uber-warrior, Mandala (Barry Prima, Indonesia's biggest film star) shows up, and it starts all over, but not before mystical "crocodile men" emerge from the ground (wearing hilarious costumes) to confound the forces of good.
Mandala's guru is then bitten by a red snake which results in huge amounts of blood on his pants, and knees that look like gangrenous coconuts: it turns out that the best treatment for this condition is amputation by white-hot sword, but only after Mandala finds exploding, glowing mushrooms to help with the first aid process. (Mr. Hamzah does us no favors in the comprehensibility department here.) After surgery the guru explains that the forces of evil are trying to eradicate all the good warriors from the earth, which leads to a flashback of the guru battling the four evilest warriors in the world, whose chosen weapons are a stick, a whip, hooked knives, and a flying wok on a string (capable of pulling peoples heads off.)
Mandala and the wife of the kidnapped loser seek revenge on horseback. The queen's pot of glowing gravel shows her that they are heading for "the Mountain of Swords," to get the devil's sword. Along the way there is a battle with alligator men on a raft piloted by a skeleton. I am still laughing about the alligator that got beheaded, but still dogpaddled away after arterial spurting reminiscent of the lion in the "Scott of the Antarctic" sketch in "Monty Python's Flying Circus." Needless to say, the four evil guys also want the sword and show up first, with Banyu Jaga wearing ultra-masculine culottes. The evil foursome decide to fight to the death for the right to the sword (crocodile men join the fisticuffs as well,) and after much mayhem resembling the "Three Stooges" (especially the "eye poke" gag...really) Banyu Jaga kidnaps the jilted wife while Mandala finds the devil's sword in a bat-infested cave protected by the most ludicrous Cyclops in cinema history.
When emerging from the cave Mandala and Banyu Jaga go at it again first with conventional weapons, then with laser beams from their wrists. The battle ends in a draw, but Banyu Jaga is punished by the queen for failing to bring her the sword. This is when we first realize that her large decorative crocodile statue is not only stylish, but functional, too, as it blasts Banyu Jaga with fire and laser beams.
Mandala and the jilted wife swim to the queen's cave. I bet you can't guess what happens next. I'm sorry, "more fighting" is the correct answer. The queen hypnotizes Mandala, and the guru and the guru's guru telepathically intervene to snap Mandala out of the spell. We then learn that the queen is really "the devil in disguise," and not the one Elvis sang about: she turns into a hideous hag and uses her scarf as a weapon (and a walkway) during the ensuing battle with the forces of good. Only Mandala and the husband and wife duo make it out of the cave alive, though the queen's status is unclear as she first turns from hag to crocodile then disappears into the swamp. After a bit of marriage counseling, Mandala rides away on horseback majestically.
This film is beyond bad on a conventional scale, but I gave it three stars for camp value. The DVD also features several extras including the trailer (wonderfully cheesy) and an interview with Barry Prima, who seems cantankerous. Please also note the biography of Prima, where we find he was born Bertus Knoch, and that he has come out of retirement recently (2006) to play a cross-dresser in "Reality, Love and Rock 'n' Roll." If you are looking to laugh at a movie, this one definitely fits the bill, though I recommend it only for hardened veterans of grade-Z films. The extras note that the film is "one of the best Indonesian fantasy films," but one major newspaper recently ran a review of the film with the much more appropriate headline "The Citizen Kane of Crap." You be the judge.