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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

Reader Review

Hawk the Slayer

Posted by: Sam
Date Submitted: Saturday, March 22, 2003 at 14:42:27
Date Posted: Friday, October 31, 2008 at 12:04:50

The only thing more confusing about why Jack Palance is in this horrible, horrible swords and sorcery movie is why he's so BAD in it. Check out his grieving cry at his son's death bed, when he shouts his name. There isn't one shred of emotion in it. It's HILARIOUS how flat and wooden it is.

But let me start at the beginning. The movie opens with an introductory screen of text. We start to read it, and then a narrator's voice cuts in and reads it to us. Slowly. Very, very slowly.

There's an opening scene, and then we cut to the credits, accompanied by electronic disco music. It's one of the funniest soundtracks ever, particularly during fight scenes. The villain is named Voltan, the Dark One, a name and title that affirm the rules of fantasy character appellations. Anybody named Voltan is bound to be a badguy and inevitably called The Dark One. Voltan takes a lady of a religious order for the ransom of 2000 gold pieces. Our hero, Hawk, is summoned to help out. Hawk and Voltan, we learned, are brothers. Obviously they were once rivals for the same woman. Obviously Voltan killed their father. These things are more of the inevitable consequences of being named Voltan.

Before Hawk can confront Voltan, he has to gather some buddies to help him, and it's a good thing he does, because it seems that every last one of them is, when Hawk appears, about to be killed by brigands in the woods. This entire world consists of brigands in the woods. There are very few buildings and very few people *other* than brigands in the woods. It begs the question, why does Voltan want gold? Gold doesn't seem to have any use in this world except to get stolen by brigands.

Hawk runs into a witch (and rescues her, naturally) who looks at a vision in a fire. She mentions a man who wears the "mask of death." "Voltan!" Hawk says in recognition. Folk like Hawk keep astrologers in business.

So he seeks out his buddies. To do so, he has to walk through the Forest of Spiderwebs, which contains a greater mass of spiderwebs than trees, and from which obviously emit the incessant sounds of screaming women. (Women are always getting lost in desolate, spiderweb-laden forests and eaten, don't you know?)

Hawk rescues all his buddies, of course, menacingly telling the captors of one, "You go in" To another, he orders, "Cut him down," to which the reply is, "It's you who will be cut down." I love clever verbal banter like this.

The only buddy that doesn't need to be rescued is the giant, a guy who carries a humongous war hammer around, which is first seen when he gently taps it against a wagon wheel to fit it back in place. The hugeness of the hammer and the delicacy with which he uses it is one of the funniest weird images in the movie.

Another of Hawk's buddies is an elf with the fakest looking elf ears I've ever seen: the ridges of the actor's human ears are blatantly visible, and the elven part looks less like flesh than just about anything else. And the elf talks like a robot! What a great interpretation of this mythical creature.

You can't have an elf without a dwarf, of course, and sure enough the next guy Hawk rescues is a dwarf who is tied to a raft while folk on shore shoot flaming arrows at it. Hawk shows up and puts a stop to it, which somehow mystically enables the dwarf to spontaneously free himself from his bonds with no difficulty whatsoever.

We flash back to Hawk and his wife on their wedding day. They're alone in the woods, and Voltan busts in on them. He mutters threats like "Watch for me in the night." When he leaves, the woman turns to Hawk and says, "He has changed. It frightens me. His mind just turned in on itself." Her tone suggests that his mind just turned in on itself right that very moment, whatever that means.

Soon we come to our first group fight scene. The fight scenes are HILARIOUS, primarily because the film repeats 0.1 second clips in rapid succession to convey the illusion that the elf can shoot arrows as quickly as if his bow were a machine gun. Ditto for the crossbow, which is seen firing bolts like a machine gun -- sounding like one, too. No, the crossbow does not need to be reloaded...or even to be HELD by its wielder. The thing always seems to be sitting on the ground, firing away on its own. The only thing funnier is when the witch shoots, with a great blast, deadly SILLY STRING at someone. Yes, one of the badguys falls to the grisly death of being instantly covered in green SILLY STRING. It's a classic moment.

In between the fight scenes, the dialogue gets more and more ridiculous. Voltan's son, for example, breaks into the church -- one of the very few actual buildings in the movie -- and, when Hawk asks him to tell his father something, he intones, "I am no messenger. But I will give you a message. The message OF DEATH."

But the goodguys prevail in the end, thanks largely to the witch, who busts open the doors of the badguy stronghold and causes lots and lots of glow-in-the-dark superballs to bounce in and blind them all. Then a great snowstorm bursts in with the goodguys, and there's another one of those cheesy fights to finish things off.

When Hawk and Voltan inevitably duel, the editor makes the great mistake of showing the fight in slow motion, betraying the artificial choreography. It's one of those swordfights where the combatants seem to be aiming for the other guy's sword instead of the other guy's body, all the while deliberately passing up wide openings. The end leaves room for a sequel, but it's not surprising that no sequel was ever made.

Rating: 3 turkeys.

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