Sorcerer [1977]

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Thriller
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 121 minutes

Lean, lanky Lee Horsley (TV's Matt Houston) is hardly the iconic image of a medieval warrior, but in this cheesy Conan the Barbarian knockoff he makes his swaggering, mercenary Talon a genial smart aleck of a barbarian hero. The plot is pure pulp cliché: evil Cromwell (Richard Lynch) raises a demon to conquer a peaceful kingdom, kill the rulers, and imprison the royal heirs, and the son of a murdered patriot returns to take his righteous vengeance with a projectile-loaded, three-bladed sword. First-time director Albert Pyun apprenticed under Akira Kurosawa and brings with him an eye for handsome images and a fluid sense of action that helps overcome B-movie dialogue ("Unlock this door, wench, and leave that to us!"), scenery-chewing performances, and bargain-basement budget. In one fight sequence a guard punches a rock wall--and dents it! Kathleen Beller (the dark-eyed beauty of The Betsy) is the rebel princess who enlists Talon to the cause, Route 66's charming wanderer George Maharis is a conniving traitor under an unflattering mop of greasy hair, and Richard Moll dons a latex monster mask to play the double-crossed demon. It's utterly silly and often awkward, but it does have energy to spare. The sequel promised at the end of the film was never produced and Pyun went on to direct some of the best straight-to-video action films of the 1990s, including Nemesis. --Sean Axmaker

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