So I see this trailer for the soon to be released movie ‘Tales of an Ancient Empire’ directed by the legendary Albert Pyun and while this trailer was truly awful… which is not a good sign considering 90% of all movies have halfway decent trailers… but it is notable that this movie is alleged to be a sequel to Pyun’s first and most successful film, 1982’s ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer’. I vaguely remember seeing this back in the day but I was around thirteen or fourteen so the memory is not solid. But the good news is that I actually own this movie. True enough I never had any plans to actually watch it having dug this flick out of one of the Big Lots bargain bins, just like I don’t actually plan to watch my copy of ‘Action Jackson’ any time soon, but it is kind of cool to actually own these movies. So I peel back that obnoxious plastic that guards these things and into the DVD player we go because I have to get my history down if I’m going to watch ‘Tales of an Ancient Empire’ when it finally makes its way to the video store.
King Cromwell (Richard Lynch) is a mean dude. All he wants is to rule the land of King Richard and his awesome Quaker style beard, but King Richard keeps kicking his ass so now Cromwell needs a ringer to help shift his fortune. To do this Cromwell resurrects the completely evil warlock Xusia (Richard Moll) and in no time flat Cromwell is straight running things and all of Richard’s bloodline is wiped out. That is except for his young son Talon who has managed to escape with his old man’s super smooth, straight gangsta projectile shooting sword in his possession.
Many years later Talon (Lee Horsely) has grown into a strapping general of scoundrels, lover of women and swashbuckling hero to the oppressed who is still looking to settle the score with the dude who killed his family. Cromwell for his part has grown his own Quaker Style Beard, because no self-respecting monarch should be without one, and is looking to rule the whole civilized world. This will begin by taking the smoking princess Alana (Kathleen Bellar) as a bride and torturing her bothersome brother Prince Micah (Simon McCorkindale). There are a couple of problems for
Cromwell starting with the Warlock Xusia, who the evil king double-crossed way back when, with the slimy sorcerer slowly plotting his revenge… but more pressing is the presence of the swashbuckling Talon to whom Princess Alana has promised those panties if he can take the evil king down and free her brother.
My man must really want those panties because he will be beat, thrown out windows, burnt up, stabbed, cut, sliced, attacked by rats and crucified but yet he never stops swashbuckling. With the evil sorcerer in front, the evil king in back, a gimmicky sword in his hand and the fate of Alana’s panties in the balance… will Talon succeed? Of course he will, and even today twenty eight plus years later I can almost still smell those panties.
To interject real quick, the second this movie signs off the screen reads ‘stay tuned for Talon’s next adventure ‘Tales of an ancient Empire’… Coming Soon!!! Just so you know Mr. Pyun, people have died in the twenty eight years that have passed waiting for this sequel so it has best be good. Anyway, the last movie I saw from master Pyun would’ve been the action flick ‘Ticker’, a movie I personally credit with ruining the career of Steven Seagal. That’s saying something. However that is way down the line and today we are focusing on a young man full of piss and vigor making a dungeons and dragons flick minus the dragons and while ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer’ isn’t a good movie and is not even close to a good movie, it has enough stuff in it that we can see how it could launch the career of a man who would go to direct 46 movies, and counting, after this one.
As a work of cinematic art ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer’ is far too scattershot and erratic, it has plot holes galore, and considering it’s called ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer’, the sword is silly and the sorcerer is lame. Probably the most underwhelming part was when Talon and crew where in the basement on route to attack the castle and then they hear the evil sounds. I’m thinking I’m about to see some badly produced stop motion monster or something, but no, I get angry mice. Seriously. Not even angry rats but pissed off mice. Surely there was a Harryhausen wannabe somewhere back in ’82 who would’ve worked for next to nothing and made us a monster.
But all that being said this movie was still oddly entertaining. Lee Horsely made for a charming, strapping swashbuckler… I mean this dude was crucified to a cross but somehow managed to rip his hands free and then proceeded to kick much ass afterwards. With big bloody holes in his hands. That’s badass. I don’t mean to blaspheme but even Jesus didn’t do that. There was plenty of nudity, plenty of exploding chests and the action was virtually non-stop. Not all of this action was particularly thrilling or crisply choreographed, but it was there and given a choice we will always opt for bad action over bad dialog.
And now here we are almost three decades later with a sequel all set and ready to go, and we are now primed and educated. Will ‘Tales of an Ancient Empire’ be any good? Seriously, the trailer looks like total ass but we will hold out hope. ‘The Sword and the Sorcerer’ might not have been a good movie but it was an entertaining one and as such this is the least of what we hope to get out of the long delayed sequel.