Lean, lanky Lee Horsley (TV's Matt Houston) is hardly the iconic image of a medieval warrior, but in this cheesy Conan the Barbarian knockoff he makes his swaggering, mercenary Talon a genial smart aleck of a barbarian ... more »hero. The plot is pure pulp cliché: evil Cromwell (Richard Lynch) raises a demon to conquer a peaceful kingdom, kill the rulers, and imprison the royal heirs, and the son of a murdered patriot returns to take his righteous vengeance with a projectile-loaded, three-bladed sword. First-time director Albert Pyun apprenticed under Akira Kurosawa and brings with him an eye for handsome images and a fluid sense of action that helps overcome B-movie dialogue ("Unlock this door, wench, and leave that to us!"), scenery-chewing performances, and bargain-basement budget. In one fight sequence a guard punches a rock wall--and dents it! Kathleen Beller (the dark-eyed beauty of The Betsy) is the rebel princess who enlists Talon to the cause, Route 66's charming wanderer George Maharis is a conniving traitor under an unflattering mop of greasy hair, and Richard Moll dons a latex monster mask to play the double-crossed demon. It's utterly silly and often awkward, but it does have energy to spare. The sequel promised at the end of the film was never produced and Pyun went on to direct some of the best straight-to-video action films of the 1990s, including Nemesis. --Sean Axmaker« less
Fun, low budget sword-and-sorcery if that's your taste
Ryan Harvey | Los Angeles, CA USA | 12/15/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In the ancient days of the early '80s, many Conan-imitation fantasies stalked the land. Most of them were cheap, dreary, and unwatchable. But the best of this low-budget bunch was the successful 1982 flick, "The Sword and the Sorcerer." Director Albert Pyun has gone onto to direct a slew of very cheesy movies, often featuring kickboxing, but this is his best film. People who love brawny sword-swingin' action will get a kick out of it. Yes, it's done cheaply, but there's some honest imagination in it, and the plot -- although filled with massive holes as deep as torture pits -- actually seems as if the writers took some time to think it up. The story still follows the basic clichés of this type of fantasy -- saving princesses, a vengeance-seeking hero, a resurrected evil wizard -- but it flows well and keeps you interested.
Of course,the film has tons of problems, and anyone who isn't seriously into the fantasy genre or early 80s movies will probably hate it. The sets are inexpensive and unimpressive, the photography cramps the action to stretch the budget, visual effects are minimal, and the acting is at best only adequate (but still better than most films of this kind). Lee Horsley plays the wise-cracking hero Talon, who wields a silly but rather cool three-bladed sword. Talon joins the resistance against evil King Cromwell (veteran b-movie villain Richard Lynch) in order to rescue a princess (Kathleen Beller). Behind it all lurks a monstrous sorcerer (Richard Moll under some well-done make-up) who has it in for Cromwell for betraying him and manipulates the resistance for his own ends. The story builds up to a surprisingly exciting finale that flexes some furious muscle and spills copious amounts of blood.
Unlike fantasy movies made today, "The Sword and the Sorcerer" is adult in tone: the violence gets quite bloody and extreme, and casual nudity is sprinkled throughout. The DVD from Anchor Bay is an adequate presentation. The picture is letterboxed and enhanced for widescreen TVs. There is some grain, but the well-lit scenes look quite clear. The sound comes in 2.0 surround and 5.1. The 5.1 mostly expands the music to the back speakers, but it sound good considering the age and budget of the film. The only extras are two trailers (almost exactly the same) and a TV spot. As usual with Anchor Bay, there are no subtitles whatsoever, not even in English.
For night with people who love sword-slashing fun and don't mind some silly budget-cutting, "The Sword and the Sorcerer" is a good bet. "
Entertaining and action-packed fantasy flick.
M. E. Volmar | 01/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the best, and surprisingly underestimated, fantasy movies of the 80's. It goes along the lines of classics like Beastmaster, Conan, Dragonslayer, Krull and Legend. Its best features are the great dialogues and solidly written characters, the marvelous sets, a surprisingly coherent and original plot, and an excellent soundtrack. The acting on the movie is not so good, but the story is so entertaining and funny that you won't really mind. Talon, the son of a murdered King, turns into a barbarian hero who tries to end the rule of an evil conqueror and his allied demon. To achieve his goal he must free the heirs of the kingdom and avenge his father. In his quest he will encounter all the elements common in most fantasy stories: sword battles, powerful demons and treacherous villains, beautiful and exotic damsels in distress and dark ancient rituals and magic spells. After the credits roll by, you will probably be left expecting to see the second installment of this movie: Tales of the Ancient Empire, which unfortunately, was never made. A word of warning: the image quality of the DVD is not great, nor does this movie have any Special Features, but it's very unlikely it will ever get a better edition. A must for fantasy film buffs. --Reviewed by M. E. Volmar"
Oh Richard Moll, you bad, bad boy.
Michael A. Zug | Brookville, Pa United States | 11/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To think I had been in cut-throat bidding wars for mildewy shop-warn copies of this masterpiece in online bidding rooms. Now it's on DVD! HA! This is my favorite Sword and Sorcery movie of all time. Not as well written or acted by half as say, Conan, but by God it has something. Demons and swords that shoot any number of blades...daring rescues...crucifixion...nudity. It has it all. I've been renting this movie since I was a kid, and now I own it. Oh sweet happiness. In all seriousness, the effects hold up, the dialogue is great, and any number of later tv stars pop up all over the place. I could not recommend this more if I made money on it's sale. Which I don't...unfortunately. Go but it at once and taste the adventure."
Herb M | San Antonio, TX United States | 02/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When you go to a local burger joint, you know the guy who makes the burgers is there in the back just cranking the things out. His cuisine is never going to reign supreme on "Iron Chef." But does that stop you from going there? No -- if you want a perfect combination of grease, cheese, and charred animal proteins, you can still enjoy the heck out of a good burger.That, in a nutshell, is The Sword and the Sorcerer. It's a brilliantly dumb movie that has no pretensions of being High Cinema, and as such it succeeds better than any other movie of heroic fantasy (especially Conan the Barbarian, which any reader of the books knows is watery-weak in plot and vacuum-sparse in its characterization).See it for the sometimes striking and sometimes laughable special effects. See it for its fantastic, bombastic soundtrack. See it for hammy acting and borderline clever double-entendres, tons of bit parts by B-list actors, a swirlingly complex plot that really doesn't matter, and a swaggering hero who out-Conan's the Schwarzenneger Conan and manages to do it despite some wincingly bad hair days.If you like cheesy movies, you should love this one."
"If I die, it will fall upon you to avenge me."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/11/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"`Know you now of days long past, a time when the world was young, when sorcery thrived and wild adventure was forever in the offing, and of this epoch little is known save that which is veiled in the mist of legend'...that's the opening line of narration from the fantasy adventure feature The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982), and it's also how nearly every Dungeons and Dragons game I ever played back in the day started, although generally not as eloquent...co-written and directed by Albert Pyun (Alien from L.A., Cyborg, Captain America), the film stars Lee Horsley ("Matt Houston") in his first feature film, Kathleen Beller (The Betsy, "Dynasty"), and perennial screen villain Richard Lynch (Deathsport, Invasion U.S.A., The Barbarians). Also appearing is Simon MacCorkindale (Death on the Nile, Jaws 3-D), George Maharis (The Satan Bug), and Richard Moll (The Dungeonmaster, House), probably best know as the tall, bald headed bailiff Bull from the popular television series "Night Court".
As the film begins we learn through narration and visuals that a tyrant usurper named Titus Cromwell (Lynch) desperately wants overthrow a peaceful and wealthy neighboring kingdom, so much so he resurrects a demonic, reptilian faced wizard named Xusia (Moll) to aid him in his efforts. Xusia's main power seems to be the ability to yank out other peoples internal organs through mental telepathy, which is pretty nasty, but I'm unsure how it would assist in overthrowing a kingdom, but whatever...apparently Cromwell realizes this, too, as he quickly betrays Xusia with a sword to the guts, but the wily wizard manages to escape. Anyway, Cromwell does succeed in his bid to take the kingdom, killing off nearly the entire royal family except for Prince Talon, who gets away with a three bladed sword (two of the blades can be fired like projectile weapons) entrusted to him by his father. As the years pass Talon grows into a man (who looks a lot like Lee Horsley), and Cromwell becomes a powerful ruler with an eye towards ruling the entire civilized world (he wants all the cheese). In one particular kingdom a rebellion forms against Cromwell, lead by a prince named Mikah (MacCorkindale), assisted by his sister Princess Alana (Beller), who's got a real bad habit of kneeing guys in their nether regions...actually, it's a pretty poor rebellion as rebellions go, as it seems made up of only a handful of greasy farmers...anyway, there's a bit of betrayal resulting the Mikah being captured, forcing Alana to enlist the aid of Talon, agreeing to partake in a night of whoopee with Talon if he saves her brother (having seen Ms. Beller in all her nekkid glory in the 1978 film The Betsy, I'd have to say it's worth it). A whole bunch of stuff happens, most of which I won't go into, but Xusia eventually returns, Talon gets crucified, and Cromwell tries to hook up with Alana, all leading up to a climatic battle between the forces of good and evil, the fate of the world hanging in the balance...
The fantasy action/adventure genre really busted loose in the early to mid 1980s with the release of the good...Conan the Barbarian (1982), Dragonslayer (1981), Krull (1983), The Beastmaster (1982), Legend (1985), and the not so good...Lucio Fulci's Conquest (1983), and Hawk the Slayer (1980), to name a couple...where does The Sword and the Sorcerer fall? For me, somewhere in the middle. It's not a completely bad movie, but it does have an abundance of flaws, the main ones including a fairly convoluted plot, not so hot production values, goofy acting (a pretty common fault in many sword and sorcery pictures of the time), and some fairly funky, eye rolling dialog (pay particular attention to the bit between Talon and the princess, talking about his `sword'). As far as the plot, it is messy and confusing, but I have to give the filmmakers credit for their ambition as they did try to cram more in here than is usually found within films of the genre, but it got a little out of hand as things progressed. One thing that really annoyed me early on was the narration...for about the first twenty minutes or so, the narrator chimes in on a regular basis, spewing forth unnecessary exposition. Horsley actually came off alright, except for the fact he appeared to be wearing a dead wombat on his head the entire time. I think it was meant to be a wild, untamed coif, but it reminded me of the ridiculous perm my older brother got himself in the late 1970s. Lynch does well enough, but it's pretty much a role I've seen him in any number of times before. His character did seem a bit too `hands on', always insinuating himself into things I wouldn't think he'd normally be involved in, you know, given the fact he's running an entire kingdom and such, but given the general ineptitude of his minions, I suppose he had little choice (on the flipside, Talon's men certainly weren't of the rocket scientist variety either). I did learn much from this film, including the following...
1. Moldy, powerful, reptilian mages recently resurrected from the dead are extremely cranky and likely to yank someone's guts out. 2. Usurping tyrants are often fickle, and will turn on their underlings in a heartbeat, even moldy, powerful, reptilian mages resurrected from the dead intended to help them accomplish a goal not yet completed. 3. If you do revive a moldy, powerful, reptilian mage from the dead and plan on betraying him, best to kill him dead as they tend to hold a grudge. 4. When your soon to be dead father makes you swear to avenge his death, it's okay to take an extensive amount of time off for yourself to wander the globe, have grand adventures, and score with babes before actually getting down to business. 5. Princesses tend to go for the gonasticales when threatened and will use access to their goodies to barter for necessary services. 6. Princes are laughably gullible. 7. A prince, a princess, and eight, greasy, spindly armed farmers do not a rebellion make. 8. If you're sneaking into a castle via the sewers and one of your party, especially an inconsequential member (an elderly man, perhaps), falls behind, best to leave him rather than try and assist him and get eaten by ravenous rats. 9. Best to kill the architect of your castle, rather than imprisoning him in the dungeon in an effort to protect information regarding secret passageways and such, eliminating the opportunity for some swarthy hero-type from rescuing him and using said information against you. 10. Interior doors within castles are made of balsa wood. 11. A crucified man makes an interesting set piece for a wedding. 12. If you have enough intestinal fortitude, you can free yourself after being crucified. 13. A three bladed sword, one that launches two of the blades as projectiles, seems an impractical and unwieldy weapon (where does one get replacement blades?). 14. Gold lamay armor festooned with sequins may look pretty, but does little in protecting ones vitals. 15. The days of yore were full of smoke, mist, fog, vapors, steam, smog, and anything else that could just generally keep one from clearly seeing what's going on.
Just a note...on the surface this might appear a film suitable for general audiences, but there is a good amount of violence, blood and even some nekkidness once things get going, so it might not be one for younger viewers.
The picture on this Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD release, presented in widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16X9 televisions, looks all right I suppose, but some of the scenes are kind of murky and muddled. The audio, available in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround 2.0, comes through very well. As far as extras, there are two theatrical trailers, a television spot, and a 5X7 insert reproduction of original poster art, with the chapter stops on the flipside.
One last thing, at the end of the film there's mention of a forthcoming sequel titled Tales of the Ancient Empire, but it never materialized. "