Fantasy
The 13th Warrior
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Dir: John McTiernan
Star: Antonio Banderas, Vladimir Kulich, John DeSantis, Omar Sharif
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1999
Format: VIDEO
'

The 13th Warrior is a tale set during Viking times and tells the story of Ahmed (Antonio Banderas) an arabian poet, who after becomes romantically involved with a married woman. Unfortunately for Ahmed, the woman's husband finds out about him and is quite an influential person, so he complains to the royal court. Ahmed is effectively banished but is officially given a job created especially for him, as an "international ambassador". Accepting his punishment, Ahmed sets out into the world assisted by his old family friend (Omar Sharif) to begin his duties. After successfully avoiding various cutthroats and robbers along the way they stumble onto a small village on the coast. The village is populated by burly, noisy, and hairy sailors with long wooden dragon headed ships (aka; Vikings). Ahmed and his friend find a Norseman who speaks Greek, because having never had contact with the Norse before, no-one could speak their language. Through their interpreter they make a good impression upon the local chieftan, Buliwyf (Vladimir Kulich) who agrees to let them stay in the village, so that they may both learn more about each other. Soon afterward a messenger arrives from another chieftan, across the seas in Europe. Where his tribe are being slaughtered and his village terrorised by an ancient evil. An ancient, supernatural enemy which attacks in the mist and fog. An enemy from so far back in the vikings history that they dare not say it's name aloud, resolutely feared by them because every viking to fight it has died....horribly. Buliwyf consults his "wise woman" who after reading the chicken bones and whatever other signs, informs the chieftan that if they go to assist the other chieftan, and battle the ancient enemy, they will fail and die horribly. Unless they number no more and no less than 13, because 13 is a mystical and magical number for them. The only snag with that is the "13th Warrior" cannot be a Norse man otherwise they will all fail. So the fact that Ahmed is an arab, and definately not a viking means that he is the only man for the job. A job which is held most sacred by the vikings, as a good omen and a great honour. Not being a warrior Ahmed, begrudgingly agrees to go with them, and they set sail in their longship to save the stricken village, from it's supernatural tormentors.

The 13th Warrior is adapted from the fantastic book "Eaters of the Dead" by Michael Crichton, the visionary genre author whose work has become some of the all time classic cult movies including, Westworld and Jurassic Park to name but two. I think that this adaptation of the book has managed to retain much of it's story and definately a lot of it's appeal. Where a lot of other similar films have gone awry with historical, mythological aspects, this film doesn't and provides an exhilarating adventure outing.

John McTiernan unsurprisingly does an excellent job as director, and captures some stunning photography as well as some intense battle scenes. Unfortunately one or two of the effects look a little too computer generated, but thankfully they don't detract too much from the rest of the film. McTiernan's pedigree is quite impressive as he has proved on several occasions that he can amply handle "action" direction and this is no exception.

The film has a strong cast who all put in a good performance, even Antonio Banderas who I have to admit, I'm not a great admirer of. My main criticism would be that if you want to teach a viking a new language, the last thing you would want to teach him to say is "There is only one god, and Allah is his prophet". I would have thought that bearing in mind just how many gods the vikings had, a statement like that would get you decapitated rather quickly. On the slightly siller side I am sure any blacksmith or armourer will tell you that you cannot make a curved Saracen's sword out of a viking broadsword by means of a sharpening stone. Those little points aside The 13th Warrior is a cracking fantsy / adventure film and well worth a watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 Nice crisp image
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Bassy and good
Features Dull static menu
Various language options
Verdict Very dissappointing disc to be honest. Despite this being a good presentation of an undeservedly under rated movie it deserved a better disc. Maybe something with extras would have been an idea!

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home