Saturday, June 18, 2011
13th Warrior (1999)
John McTeirnans big budgeted flop was delayed, recut, delayed and recut before being sent into theaters where the story of Vikings fighting cannibals didn’t go over well with audiences.
Based on a book called Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton the film tells the story of an Arab merchant who travels to the northern part of Europe where he meets a bunch of Vikings. When a request for help arrives at the village where he is staying the soothsayer says that they must send 12 men plus one to go help the besieged town in the north. The plus one must be the Arab.
Arriving they find things in disarray the town is reeling from the attacks and there is much to do to protect them from the animal like attacks.
A rousing adventure tale that plays more like a good adventure novel rather than a rip roaring big budgeted action film this is a movie that doesn’t play by conventional movie rules. I know several people who are kind of disappointed in how the final battle goes (One thing happens and it’s suddenly over) and dislike it for that reason. For me it’s something that makes perfect sense and seems the way things would really go.
What I love about the film is the way that all of the characters interact. It’s a bunch of good friends who like and respect each other and can bust on each other in friendly jabbing ways. Antonio Banderas as the unwilling member of the party is a joy, not meeting the expectations of his Viking companions only to do an end run and exceed them in some other manner. I love how he truly earns the respect of everyone and manages to grow himself.
The bad guys are scary. Initially described as monsters and as a fire serpent when we see what is really the case we quickly learn that maybe our false impressions would have been better. When the group finds the head of the baddies we see just where the evil came from and it’s scary.
I love the action set pieces. The various attacks are truly exciting and some of the best sword play of the last few years.
For me the best thing I can say is that this is one of those films that I stop and eatch every time I run across it on cable.