Sorry for the brief delay of a week for my next review. Apologies to all my loyal readers, but I’m back with another flick that I am shocked you have not seen and really think you need to. This comes from the conversation with good ol’ Larry Young and a flick that I was pretty blown away he had not seen. Considering it fits really nicely in that fantasy/viking/literature film section of Blockbuster, we (Mark Espinosa and I) assumed it was watched. Well, to our shock it was not, but here it is. My favorite Antonio Banderas movie of all time. And yes I have seen Desperado.
Antonio Banderas is Ahmad ibn Fadlan. He is essentially a writer that is assigned to the Caliph to write about all his great accomplishments. Well, Antonio makes googly eyes at the Caliph’s wife and gets banished. He gets sent out to Bulgaria to be an ambassador and on the trip, they get attacked. They are quickly saved by a group of Norseman who they then take refuge with. Since Antonio does not speak their language, his traveling partner (played by Omar Sharif) speaks Latin with one of the Norseman. They quickly find out that they are taking refuge with a group of Norseman that are mourning the death of their king, and the sparring heirs determine who is the heir apparent. After we get introduced to Buliwyf, another Norseman comes to request his aid. This Norseman explains to Buliwyf that his father’s kingdom is under attack by an ancient evil and one that we cannot say its name. The oracle of the tribe says that in order to defeat this evil they must travel in a party of thirteen men, and the 13th cannot be a Norseman. Yup, Antonio’s character gets picked against his will. And this is where the flick gets going. But that is where I will stop, because everything after this is just straight up amazing action. But let’s call out some amazing things:
Like most of my other reviewed flicks, this one is no different. The cast is killer. But the unique thing about this one is you probably only will know Antonio Banderas and Omar Sharif, which, alone, are two insanely popular and solid actors. But the rest of the cast is no joke. Buliwyf is played by Vladimir Kulich (who would now be more recognized from the TV show Angel) as the Beast. I recognize his voice as Ulfrich from the video game Skyrim. But he is also in Joe Carnahan’s Smoking Aces. Another great actor in this is Tony Curran. Yup, not a name many people know, but go take a look at his face. You will immediately recognize him as Van Gogh in one of the best Matt Smith Doctor Who epsiodes. He is also Priest in Blade 2 and the Invisible Man in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Great actor in a ton of great flicks. How about Clive Russell? Yup, not ringing a bell, well he is Captain Tanner in the RDJ Sherlock Holmes flicks and has a role in the underrated Benicio Del Toro Wolfman flick. Oh, and I think he is also in Game of Thrones. And last, how about Richard Bremmer. Again, nothing? That’s okay, this is where I get to teach you. He is the first actor to portray Voldemort (sorry I said his name) although is not the voice actor, that is the guy who plays Quirrell. I forget his name. But solid casting choices and a few I skipped. Take a peak at the filmography of Sven Wollter and Diane Venora. Yeah, big time players.
Second thing to talk about is the director. How about some guy called John McTiernan. Yeah, Predator John McTiernan, Die Hard John McTiernan, Hunt for Red October John McTiernan. This guy understands solid action and suspense. He essentially mastered this genre of flick and this one is on par with those in my opinion. This flick also has some uncredited reshoots from Michael Crichton. Oh, did I mention that this is based on a book he wrote called “Eaters of the Dead” that he wrote in ‘76? Between that story and some loosely referenced Beowulf themes, this whole thing is cherry. I even feel like I recall seeing a trailer in the movies of this film being called Eaters of the Dead. Which 1000% peaked my interest in seeing it, but when they changed the name I somehow lost it and never saw it in the theaters. I am sure I would have seen The Sixth Sense, which this opened against. A little fact about this flick is it costs somewhere in the $160 million to make, and only grossed like $60 million back, making it one of the biggest bombs in history. Which is super-sad because this flick is awesome.
Okay, my favorite and most important part of the movie. The quotes:
- “Luck often enough will save a man if his courage holds.”
- “Did she finish you off or bring you back to life? ….a gentleman doesn’t discuss such things.”
- “You can draw sounds?”
- “I listened!”
- Lo, there do I see my father. ‘Lo, there do I see…
My mother, and my sisters, and my brothers.
Lo, there do I see…
The line of my people…
Back to the beginning.
Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place among them.
In the halls of Valhalla…
Where the brave…
Damn, that last quote may be my favorite one in the whole movie. And it comes at such an amazing part of the flick. I really skipped a lot about the story, but the sets are insanely beautiful and the costumes of the characters and “bad guys” are amazing, as well. Seriously just an absolutely fun film. Oh, and here is a cool nugget. The original soundtrack was done by Graeme Revell who has done The Crow, From Dusk ’til Dawn, Sin City and the Riddick flicks. I guess Crichton was not a fan and then hired Jerry Goldsmith, who has five Emmys and an Oscar for the soundtrack to The Omen. Need to get a version of the flick with the alternate music. Looks like this is currently on Apple TV for the normal 4 bucks, but grab the dvd. I think I have bought about 7 copies of the dvd for friends, so happy to buy some more.