"When I grow up, can I go with you to kill the Russians?"
Dave | Tennessee United States | 05/09/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""White Warrior" (aka "Agi Murad il diavolo bianco") is actually one of Steve Reeves' better films, thanks to having an actual plot and a bigger budget than usual. Although the film is Italian and thus badly dubbed, it is still enjoyable to watch if you're a Steve Reeves fan. Set in the early 1850's in Russia, Reeves stars as Hadji Murad, the brave and feared leader of a group of rebels that are trying to defend their land against the ruthless Czar Nicholas I and his army. When the czar gets nowhere by slaughtering innocent villagers he sends the beautiful Princess Maria Vorontsova (Scilla Gabel) on a journey to help her husband talk Hadji, "the White Warrior", into a peace treaty.
But of course, once she meets the famous rebel leader she falls in love with him and becomes committed to helping him win freedom for his people. Hadji is set up by one of his rivals and is captured by the czar's troops. It is up to Hadji to find a way to escape before his luck runs out and he's executed by his captors, who try everything, including torture, to get the headstrong rebel to sign the treaty (which Hadji knows is a trick). I won't spoil the ending, but don't get your hopes up: the fight scene at the end was clearly done with a body double instead of Reeves.
After viewing the horribly cropped-image version that's already been released by several dvd companies, I highly recommend the widescreen VCI version, which presents the only true way to watch and enjoy "The White Warrior", in its original format. Steve Reeves, who died May 1, 2000, left behind a legacy of enjoyable, low-budget action movies that fans have enjoyed for decades. This is lesser-known but is easily one of his best films, despite its flaws. It was adapted from the novel by Leo Tolstoy, but don't expect a lavish epic like "War and Peace". The Russian military uniforms look for the most part like World War 1/Russian Revolution era rather than mid-19th century, and I was hoping for more battles scenes. Still, it's a guilty pleasure for any Steve Reeves fan!"
A compelling, pretty darn impressive film
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 05/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I say Steve Reeves, you immediately think of Hercules. There is more to Reeve's career than his Hercules roles, however (in fact, he really only made two Hercules films). The White Warrior, or Agi Murad il Diavolo Bianco, is a case in point. Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, The White Warrior pits Reeves as a tribal chieftain fighting to defend his people from the aggression of Russian troops under Czar Nicholas I. Reeves doesn't exactly look like someone from the Caucasus regions, but he plays his part very well. I have to say I was actually quite impressed with this film, and I have more respect for Steve Reeves as an actor after having watched it. This, like most of Reeves' work, is an Italian film (hence the original title: Agi Murad il Diavolo Bianco), directed by Recardo Freda with photography by the great Mario Bava. It's too bad Bava's work cannot really be appreciated here, though, as this film is in great need of restoring.
Haji Murad (Reeves) doesn't take the persecutions of the Russians lying down; unlike his counterparts, he takes the fight to the Russians. While he wins the acclaim of his people, he earns the jealous disdain of Ahmed Khan (Renalto Baldini), who lusts for power as well as Haji's fair and beloved Sultanet (Giorgia Moll). After his greatest triumph, Haji is betrayed by Khan and captured by the Russians. Prince Sergei (Gerard Herter) tries to barter a peace deal with him, on the instructions of the czar as delivered by his wife Princess Maria (Scilla Gabel), but Haji, knowing that Russian promises are meaningless, refuses. His idealism leads Princess Maria to fall in love with him, but Haji wants only to escape and seek vengeance on Ahmed Khan, who has claimed the lovely Sultanet for his own and threatened to kill Haji's son Yussef (who, by the way, sounds exactly like Rocky the Squirrel).
There are some good fight scenes early on, although an impregnable Russian fortress far from lives up to its reputation. The final fight sequence, however, leaves something to be desired, as a Steve Reeves fuelled by righteous hatred has a fair amount of trouble taking care of a spoiled, smarmy traitor. The bulk of the film follows Haji's imprisonment in the palace of Prince Sergei and depends almost solely on the drama of Haji's situation and the feelings of Princess Maria for him. Sure, there's a decent flogging scene, but Steve Reeves came to act, not merely flex his muscles, in this film.
The story does not follow Tolstoy's original story all that closely, particularly in terms of the ending, but The White Warrior does succeed rather well as a compelling motion picture. Both Sultanet and Princess Maria are fascinating characters in and of themselves, and Prince Sergei, despite the moniker, manages to avoid coming across as a Russian Colonel Klink. A definite must for Steve Reeves fans, The White Warrior is a pretty compelling human drama that a majority of viewers should appreciate and enjoy."