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Sword And Sorcerer

USA 1982
Directed by
Albert Pyun
91 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
David Michael Brown
3.5 stars

The Sword And The Sorcerer

Synopsis: King Cromwell (Richard Lynch) summons the sorcerer Xusia (Richard Moll) from hell to use his evil magical powers to invade the kingdom of Eh-Dan. Cromwell tries to kill the royal family but their son, Talon (Lee Horsley), escapes swearing revenge. Twelve years later Talon returns to his homeland to avenge his parents death but the sorcerer has grown more powerful than ever.

Conan The Barbarian has a lot to answer for! Not only did it kick-start the career of the Austrian Teuton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, but the 1980s became full of sword and sandal epics featuring bulging biceps, heaving cleavage and severed limbs. Most of the imitations came from the Italy but in The Sword And The Sorcerer, Albert Pyun delivered a film that more than matches the epic sight of Arnie flexing his muscles.

One of the film’s trump cards is pacing, Conan’s impact was lessened by director John Milius’s self-important and often ponderous direction. Pyun takes a more frothy approach channelling the spirit of the 1930s Saturday matinee serials. Lee Horsley, as the film’s hero Talon has great fun with the wisecracks, the sexual tension and the action. This is a million miles away from his television success with Matt Huston. The performances are all likeable and while the plotline is clichéd, in hindsight, there is no denying that this men-on-a-mission movie is great fun.

The effects are excellent and often surprisingly gory, in particular the tomb that Xusia rises from at the film’s opening with his body encased in bloody screaming faces. The battle scenes are spirited and exciting, limbs are severed and faces are cleaved and in the final battle sparks fly as swords clash. It’s refreshing to see a fantasy movie with real extras, even if not many, rather than the thousands of CGI-created minions that fill our screens these days. That is half the film’s charm. This was Pyun’s debut feature and one of his most successful and beloved films. He had big hits with Cyborg starring the Muscles from Brussels Jean-Claude Van Damme and Nemesis with Oliver Grunner but he never rediscovered the magic of his first film.

Amusingly, Pyun and the film’s writers Tom Karnowski & John V. Stuckmeyer try to tie the story in with British history to give the film some authenticity but the result  is anything but Shakespearean. The Sword And the Sorcerer is a rip-roaring boy’s own adventure romp, filled to the brim with blood and spirit. It may be low budget, but as Pyun has shown in his subsequent career, what his films lack in finance, they more than make up for in testosterone-fuelled mayhem.




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