Film Review: The Warrior and the Sorceress
In 1984, John C. Broderick released The Warrior and the Sorceress, based on Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 film, Yojimbo. Starring David Carradine, María Socas, Luke Askew, Anthony De Longis, Harry Townes, Guillermo Marín, Armando Capo, Daniel March, John Overby, Richard Paley, Marcos Woinski, Cecilia Narova, Dylan Willias, José Casanova, Miguel Zavaleta, Herman Cass, Arturo Noal, Hernán Gené, Gus Parker, Ned Ivers, Liliana Cameroni, Eva Adanaylo, and Noëlle Balfour, the film grossed $2.9 million at the box office.
On the desert planet of Ura in a distant galaxy, two rival warlords named Zeg and Bal Caz fight against each other for control of a village’s only wellspring. One day, the mercenary warrior Kain enters the village and announces that he’s for hire by the highest bidder. However, when he frees Naja, a sorceress, from Zeg, Kain decides to take the wellspring for himself and save the village people. To do so, he must take advantage of the warlords’ feud.
A B-level fantasy film at best, The Warrior and the Sorceress is nothing if not entertaining. It brings a well-known and oft used plot of a wandering mercenary entering a village looking for money but instead deciding to side with the townspeople and rid the town of the rivalling warlords. It hits all the obvious story beats as well. Kain comes in and makes his skill known by killing the men guarding the wellspring, which makes himself known in the village. He then aligns himself with one of the warlords before deciding to pit the two of them against each other. The problem isn’t that it’s been done before, it’s that it’s been done in much better ways, one of which being the film this one is blatantly ripping off. It can be a little confusing too because while the filmmakers are sticking true with “show, don’t tell,” there are times where the film leans so heavily on the “show” side that it forgets to do any “telling.”
As for the characters, Kain is, apart from two separate scenes, an essentially invincible hero where everything ends up working out for him. He’s established as so early on when he gets into the village and confronts Zeg’s men guarding the well. After a couple of barbs, he fights and kills all of the guards with very little effort. His prowess at combat is taken to absurd levels later on when he’s making a rescue. He frees the woman and then fights a ferocious tentacle monster, which he later says would take 20 men to kill. During the fight, he’s seen as struggling against it, but still kills it with relative ease. The final battle does try to make it seem like he’s having a difficult time, but it tries to do so in a very silly way. Slavers have come in and are working to take all the villagers including the captain of Zeg’s men, Kief, who still hates Kain. Our hero has been given a special sword and he’s able to dispatch the slavers with ease, but when Kief is freed, he and a few other men rush Kain, getting a leg up on him for a few moments. This is the film idiotically trying to make it so Kain has a bit of difficulty in fighting when it’s clearly shown that he’s had no difficulty up until now. The scene earlier where Kief and his men are beating him doesn’t make sense either as the film had shown Kain as being crafty and resourceful in his dealings to make it so he always has the upper hand. This is essentially one of the biggest problems of the film as it tries to manufacture weakness for a man in two different scenes that it had already built up as practically invincible. It’s absurd and only works to further the cheapness of the film.
Interestingly, it seems that Carradine had some idea of the awful characterization of his character because of how he comes across in his performance. In essence, Carradine is trying incredibly hard to impersonate Clint Eastwood. There’s a few scenes where it almost works, but he usually fails and just furthers the awfulness of the character as it makes it seem like he’s taking it all way too seriously. However, he does give the best performance in the film. There are some moments where Askew as Zeg sounds like he had just been given the script for the first time and is reading his lines off to the side. Further, Anthony De Longis as Kief does nothing but chew the scenery to pieces. Notably, Marín as Bal Caz sounds like he learned to speak English only a few days before filming began and honestly, that’s probably the case as this was his second film with his first being a Spanish film starring Antonio Banderas.