The Sword and the Sorcerer Review

The story:A long long time ago, the young Talon was the heir to the throne of a peaceful kingdom over which his father reigned. However, Titus Cromwell, an evil king , has awoken the forces of evil in the form of a sorcerer who bestows upon his armies incredible might and power. Talon's entire family is murdered in the war and he has to flee. Thankfully, his father gives him a three-bladed sword that he manages to save in the chaos of the battle. He swears to avenge his family's death. Many years later Talon had become a mighty warrior who now seems likely to be able to overthrow Cromwell's evil reign but he seems to be more interested in acting as mercenary than representing the forces of good. Will he continue living his life this way or will he decide to finally avenge his parents?

The Sword and the Sorcerer was meant to be the first in a series of films on the adventures of Talon that never materialised. On the basis of this film, it looks like we had a narrow escape! This film seems to be the cinematic equivalent of eighties chart music - insipid, very out-dated and deeply embarrassing.
Clichés abound in the script and the writers evidently thought it would be hilarious to get a phallic joke in every time a sword is mentioned - tedious to say the least... The direction is purely and simply inexistent - the actors seem to be left to their own devices with only Richard Lynch putting in a half decent performance. The characters are all deeply unsympathetic especially the hero who has the charisma of a bowling ball - quite how he manages to fend off soldiers with a ham bone is anybody's guess. Aesthetically, it's all over the place - the three-bladed sword looks about as lethal as my toothbrush, the sets are garish and covered in smoke, the cinematography is very old-school and the score is simply grating... Of course the moot-point is whether the aforementioned are flaws or qualities - old fans of the film will probably return to this film for old-times sake and maybe some will find this demonstration in über-kitsch appealing but as far as I'm concerned there's little here to redeem this film and quite why Anchor Bay feel the need to revive it is beyond me...

The DVD:
The image:The print used seems to be clean and almost damage free - this is quite impressive given that S&S was made 20 years ago. However, the image itself is lacking in definition and quite grainy throughout - maybe this is due to the stock used or the ageing of the print but it doesn't look too great. The fusiness is quite distracting, making most of the scenes look as if they were filmed in a sauna - maybe they were or it was meant to have this hazy look but I found it to be quite distracting but my eyes eventually got habituated ... Some of the scenes seem to also come from a different print as they seem even grainier and stick out from the rest. The film is however correctly framed and anamorphcially enhanced so aside from the overall bluriness -which could be part of the film itself- this is a clean and competent transfer.

The sound:We get the option of simple stereo or a 5.1 remix. Both of them seemed a little muffled to me with the annoying pseudo-classical soundtrack being a little too high in the mix at times. The surround effects are used spasmodically and are not too much "in your face" which may appeal to purists but dissapoint those wanting a workout for their sound system.

The menus: These feature excerpts from the film in the background and are of the sobre type. There are some nicely thought out transitions to and within the index menu which are a nice effort. A little tacky maybe but you can't really blame them for sticking to the spirit of the film!

The extras:We get 2 virtually identical theatrical trailers which unusually are anamorphically enhanced and a TV spot. We also get a photo gallery but these are only screengrabs from the film - so no real extras to speak of. I think this is a bit of a missed opportunity given the possibility for a retrospective commentary which in the case of a film like this could have made the DVD a must-buy.

Conclusions:You'll have to be a fan of the film to buy this in the first place. The sound and image are not really outstanding but may add to the overall low-tech feel of the film. It's good to see that more obscure releases are finding their way onto DVD although in this case I wish they hadn't bothered!

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