Peter’s Retro Reviews: The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

December 9, 2011

by Peter Nielsen

“Know you now of days long past, the 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 mists of legendry… It is within these mists that our tale begins, on Tomb Island, a rocky craig, perched at the far edge of the world…”

Would be world-ruler Titus Cromwell needs help to defeat the armies of the kingdom Eh-Dan, which is why we find him and his men on the island accompanied by a witch. They’re there to awaken the demon sorcerer Xusia of Delos from his thousand year long sleep. Cromwell makes a deal with the demon who agrees to help him. All he basically gets in return is his life. After a particularly tiring day of conjuring the dark forces against King Richard’s army, Xusia is killed by Cromwell who no longer feels he has the need for his particular services anymore.

Yeah well, you didn’t think Cromwell was trustworthy, did you? He was afraid that Xusia would become too powerful to kill later. Sneaky bastard, huh? But you didn’t really think that Xusia was dead, did you? C’mon! You’ve seen this before!

Cromwell then proceeds with his conquest of Eh-Dan and finally kills the king and queen and two of their sons, leaving the daughter Elizabeth in a life of slavery and the third son Talon, in exile.

Fast-forward 10 – 11 years and Cromwell has a rebellion on his hands. This uprising is led by prince Mikah, the last “rightful” heir to the throne, and his sister Alana. They are played by Simon MacCorkindale (Falcon Crest, Manimal) and Kathleen Beller (Dynasty). Mikah and Alana are the children of King Richard’s closest man and not really heirs ‘cause that would in all fairness be either Talon or Elizabeth, but since they are, I suppose, presumed dead, the people are behind the others 100%. Aiding Mikah in the uprising is actually Cromwell’s right-hand man, Machelli, played by George Maharis (Fantasy Island), but unbeknownst to the rebels is that Machelli is just luring them out so the rebellion can be crushed before it even starts. Oh my, is there no end to the treachery and double-crossing here?

Titus Cromwell together with Machelli and a bound Alana.

Titus Cromwell together with Machelli and a bound Alana.

Meanwhile… passing through is a band of mercenaries led by a grown up Talon who decides to stay just long enough to settle some old scores. He arrives just in time to save Alana from being raped by three of Cromwell’s thugs. He then reluctantly agrees to rescue Mikah from the dungeons where he is being held captive and tortured. The price he asks for this task is not money, but a night with Alana… “Oh, the audacity of this man”, you might say! But he is after all a mercenary, a rogue pirate and a scoundrel too. He, more by coincidence than by choice, agrees to help in the uprising against Cromwell and, as I stated before, he does have an old score to settle.

Cromwell on the other hand is obsessed by finding the demon sorcerer Xusia, whom he believes is behind the rebellion. He initially thinks he’s hiding in the form of Mikah and this is why he had him chained up and tortured, but later shifts his attention to Talon, thinking HE is the sorcerer. He has no idea what-so-ever who Talon really is! But Xusia is actually hiding in… Yeah, like I’m going to tell you that little surprise, huh?

Long story short… Talon is imprisoned and is to be killed at a wedding reception. His men and the rebels are coming to his rescue and the rulers of the surrounding kingdoms decide to join in on the fun and games, and all sorts of shenanigans ensue.

The demon sorcerer Xusia of Delos.

The demon sorcerer Xusia of Delos.

The Sword and the Sorcerer was one of the many rip-offs following in the wake of Conan the Barbarian in the early 80’s. And even though this was released a month or so before Conan the Barbarian it was still kind of a rip-off. I mean, it was no secret that Conan was being made and I’m sure that the director Albert Pyun snuck a peak at it once or twice while making this one.

And I’m also sure that The Sword and the Sorcerer was produced way faster than Conan the Barbarian, which enabled it to be released a bit earlier. But still a rip-off… Although along with The Beastmaster, released a couple of months later, it was actually pretty good. It was done tongue-in-cheek and very reminiscent of the old swashbuckling adventure movies from the 40’s and 50’s, starring the likes of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. or Errol Flynn. Our hero Talon has a lot of those same qualities and Lee Horsley (Matt Houston, Paradise) suits the part perfectly.

He also wields the sword… That extremely cool-looking, three-bladed sword, which at the same time was so over the top and ridiculous and HOLY CRAP did I want it!! Not that I would’ve been able to wield it though, but still… It had three parallel blades and the two at either side of the main one could be shot by some unknown mechanism at opponents coming from a distance. It also had a fourth dagger-like blade in the hilt. A blade for all occasions, if you will. Add a corkscrew, some scissors and a screwdriver and you have yourself a Swiss army knife!

Look at my mighty sword!

Look at my mighty sword!

The sorcerer Xusia is played, at least in the first scene, by Richard Moll from the TV-show Night Court and the movie House. He had a bad reaction to the contact lenses he had to wear and in the subsequent scenes it was another guy portraying him. Richard Moll dubbed his voice though.

The power-hungry Titus Cromwell is played by the prolific Richard Lynch who is great at doing bad guys. He’s been in a ton of stuff like Invasion U.S.A. and Bad Dreams for instance.

The first time I watched The Sword and the Sorcerer was at our local theater here in Klippan, in the early 80’s. Yup, the good ol’ days! Sadly that theater has been gone for many, many years, which is too bad ‘cause I would have loved for my kids to be able to catch a Saturday afternoon matinee once in a while. Not that this is a little kids movie suitable for a matinee, because it has its share of gross-out moments, but then again… Times have changed and kids of today have become more jaded perhaps?

Hell, I don’t know! What I do know, is that The Sword and the Sorcerer is a great adventure with lots of fun and action and a little magic thrown in. And by the way? Did I mention the sword?

In the words of Talon: Come now, let’s be off. There’s a battle in the offing! We’ve got kingdoms to save and women to love!

Until next time my friends…

 The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

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