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The Sword And The Sorcerer (Shout! Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • The Sword And The Sorcerer (Shout! Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: March 15th, 2022.
    Director: Albert Pyun
    Cast: Lee Horsley, Kathleen Beller, Simon MacCorkindale, George Maharis, Richard Lynch
    Year: 1982
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Sword And The Sorcerer – Movie Review:

    The first feature film directed by Albert Pyun, 1982's The Sword And The Sorcerer opens with a sinister fellow named Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) making his way into an ancient tomb and bringing back a sorcerer named Xusia Of Delos (Richard Moll) from the dead. In return, Xusia agrees to help Titus in his quest to conquer the kingdom of Ehdan ruled over by King Richard (Christopher Cary). It works, and soon enough, Titus has killed both Richard and his Queen, leaving their son, Prince Talon, orphaned and alone with only his weird three-bladed sword to keep him company. Titus also double-crosses Xusia, stabbing him in the heart and tossing him off of a cliff.

    Time passes and Cromwell crowns himself the new king of Ehdan. With help from Machell (George Maharis) he keeps the populace in line, ruling with an iron fist. Elsewhere, however, Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale), believed to be the true heir to the thrown since all of King Richard's family is thought to be dead, works with his sister Alana (Kathleen Beller) to start an uprising to remove Titus from power. Mikah winds up captured by Cromwell and tossed into prison, at which point Alana enlists the aid of a salty, horny mercenary warrior type who just so happens to be an adult Talon (Lee Horsely), his three-bladed sword still at his side. If he will save her brother from Cromwell, she agrees to sleep with him for one night.

    And from there, we're off. Titus and his pals make their way into Titus’ castle to free Mikah and things spiral from there. Xusia, however, isn’t quite finished with his role in all of this either, leading to a pretty cool conclusion to a fairly ridiculous film.

    Made on a fairly modest budget and plagued by problems during its production, The Sword And The Sorcerer nevertheless manages to be a pretty entertaining watch. It makes good use of some Bronson Canyon locations and features some pretty cool monster design for the Xusia character. It features some fleeting but surprising moments of strong gore (making you wish they’d just gone full splatter film, really!) and some naked women to keep the exploitation elements in line, and it moves at a pretty good pace. The storyline doesn’t offer much in the way of actual surprises and those familiar with sword and sorcery films won’t really have any trouble figuring out where most of the storyline is headed, but the three-bladed sword, which borrows a bit from Lone Wolf And Cub and allows Talon to shoot two of the blades at his foes, is a neat gimmick that gets used well a few times in the movie.

    As to the acting, Horsely is a decent lead here. His character is fairly generic but manages to invest a bit of humor into his performance which makes him fun to watch. Kathleen Beller isn’t given a whole lot to do but stand around and look good, but she does that very well indeed, while Simon MacCorkindale is reasonably forgettable in his part. The villains, however, are a lot of fun. Moll is a kick as Xusia, seen only under heavy makeup and with his voice fairly distorted. Lynch is also really good as the main heavy in the film, chewing quite a bit of scenery as he goes about his business.

    The Sword And The Sorcerer – UHD Review:

    Taken from a new 4k scan of the original 35mm negative and presented with HDR and Dolby Vision, the HEVC encoded 2160p 4k transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen looks really strong when you take into account that the film, especially in its first fifteen minutes or so, has always looked very soft and hazy. The movie is also frequently very dark, so you need to keep all of that in mind when thinking about the picture quality here, as the movie doesn’t, and never should, pop the way that a film made under different circumstances and with a different, more conventional style would. Having said that, this is a substantial improvement over what we’ve seen before, even if it isn’t going to be your new 4k/UHD demo disc. Scenes with conventional lighting do show off what the format is capable of, while the darker scenes are… dark. Much of the film is shrouded in fog or smoke which can, again, add to the haziness of the visuals. Style, those who have seen the movie before and know what they’re getting into are almost certainly going to be very happy with the way that the movie has been handled here. Expect some minor print damage, mostly in the first twenty minutes or so, but overall it looks pretty clean. The films sometimes very strange color scheme is reproduced very well and black levels are strong from start to finish. The image is well-authored and free of visible compression artifacts and just as importantly it always looks nice and filmic, showing no obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement issues.

    Audio options are provided in English language DTS-HD 2.0 and 5.1 Master Audio tracks with optional subtitles provided in English SDH only. Before the movie starts, a disclaimer appears on screen stating the following:

    "When getting access to the film elements for The Sword And The Sorcerer, there was almost nothing for audio. We have transferred a lone optical track for the stereo sound. There is some damage we could not fix. The 5.1 track was created by another label and has some directional errors. We think, even with some static, the stereo track is the strongest option."

    The stereo track is the strongest of the two options. Neither one sounds perfect and both sound decent but the static noted in the disclaimer does creep into the mix here and there. It’s never overpowering, but it is there. Still, it does sound better than the 5.1 mix, which was presumably sourced from the older Anchor Bay DVD release from 2001 (unless there’s another 5.1 mix out there for this release which we’re not aware of, which is certainly possible). Either way, the dialogue sounds good enough and the score has some decent depth to it. This never sounds amazing but it sounds fine.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary with Director Albert Pyun (the only extra on the UHD) where he goes into quite a bit of detail about the making of the film. He notes that he was really new to directing at this point as it was his first feature, some of the issues that arose on set, working with the different cast and crew members, the locations, problems he ran into with producer Brandon Chase, the effects work on the picture and quite a bit more.

    The included Blu-ray disc also contains the commentary as well as quite a few other extras, beginning with Tales Of The Ancient Empire: An Interview With Director Albert Pyun that clocks in at thirty-three minutes in lenght. While it definitely covers some of the same ground as the commentary track, it's still worth checking out. Pyun, who has been open about the fact that he has onset dementia at this point in his life, discusses his move to Hollywood from his native Hawaii, the difficulty he had in getting his script optioned but not until other, better known fantasy movies did big box office, being disappointed when he wasn't given final cut, working with the different actors in the picture, issues that came up with the producers and more.

    A Princess' Tale: An Interview With Actress Kathleen Beller runs for twenty-four minutes and lets the film's female lead talk about landing the part in the film, meeting and getting along with the very green Pyun who didn't always seem to have the best grasp on directing the feature, shooting the scene with the live python, how she got along with the rest of the cast and how she feels about the movie overall.

    Co-Writer/Co-Producer John Stuckmeyer is up next in the twenty minute Mightier Than The Sword. Here he goes over his background and early work with the Kroft Brothers, co-writing with Alber Pyun, working with producer Brandon Chase, problems with the film's budget that occured during the shoot, the tension that arose on set when it became obvious that Pyun didn't quite know what he was doing and finally having to take Chase to court in order to finally get paid.

    Master Of The Blade: An Interview With Editor Marshall Harvey lasts fourteen minutes and lets Harvey speak about getting his start cutting trailers and then getting to cut his first feature with The Sword And The Sorcerer. He talks about what it was like working with Group 1 Productions, the problems that were a constant during the production between Chase and Pyun and having Oliver Reed show up wasted to record the opening narration only to be turned away when he got surly. Sigh...

    In the twelve minute The Specialist And The Effects: An Interview With Special Makeup Effects Artist Allan Apone, we learn about what went into the production design for the movie, challenges that arose due to the film's lower budget, having to get creative with some of the effects set pieces, how he personally got along quite well with Pyun despite his inexperience and more.

    Brothers In Arms: An Interview With Special Effects Artists The Chiodo Brothers - Charles, Edward And Stephen runs for ten minutes and sees the three brothers talk about the specific effects set pieces that they did for the film, talking about the design work they did and the influence of the late, great Berni Wrightson, working with Richard Moll to get his makeup effects right and really getting along with Pyun on the shoot.

    The last of the featurettes is Dedicated To Jack Tyree, Stuntman: The Cast And Crew Remember Stuntman Jack Tyree, which clocks in at ten minutes and serves as a nice tribute to the man who passed away during the making of the film when his falling stunt when wrong. All of the other interviewees talk about what could have happened and what went wrong. It's quite an unsettling thing to watch, particularly because the fall in question where Tyree died was left in the final cut of the movie.

    Finishing up the extras are a Trailers From Hell entry with Editor Marshall Harvey on The Sword And The Sorcerer, two theatrical trailers, a TV spot, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Also worth noting is that Scream Factory has packaged this release with some reversible cover sleeve art and a slipcover for its first pressing.

    The Sword And The Sorcerer – The Final Word:

    The Sword And The Sorcerer isn’t the best film to come out of the eighties sword and sorcery boom but it offers enough blood, boobs and bad buys to scratch more than a few cult movie itches. If nothing else, it’s a fun watch sure to give fans of eighties schlock a serious nostalgia rush. Shout! Factory has done a really solid job of bringing this movie to UHD, with a nice transfer, decent audio and a really good array of extra features. All in all, this is a pretty strong release and one that should makes fans of the film very happy.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Sword And The Sorcerer Blu-ray screen caps (because we can't do UHD caps yet and reviews without screen caps are boring)!

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    Ian Jane
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    Last edited by Ian Jane; 04-01-2022, 03:44 PM.
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