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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Archer: Fugitive From the Empire (1981)



Reviews and Comments

This grating swords and sorcery flick was actually intended to be a television series pilot. I don't see how they thought this would be a good series. As far as I could tell, it consisted solely of random and indeterminate acts of magic coupled with special effects whereby the screen would be suddenly tinted red.

The first half, at least, makes some sort of sense in terms of plot. A king, rallying his men for a rebellion, gets assassinated, and the king's son is framed. I wasn't sure who they were rebelling against or why, but that's ok. The problem is that after that, nothing makes any sense at all. Some magical woman appears and disappears at will, and it is impossible to determine her motivation for doing anything. A hawk appears and disappears at will, occasionally speaks, and it is impossible to determine its motivation for doing anything. Then there's the comic sidekick, who neither appears nor disappears, never shuts up, and, yes, it is impossible to determine his motivation for doing anything. During the end, the random indeterminate acts of magic start coming fast and furious, and when the Fabulous Crystal of Balancing was on the verge of plunging into the Molten Pit of Something Or Other, I wasn't sure if this would kill the badguy and make his hideout fall apart for no good structural reason or if it would expel the Woman of Billowing Robes from the Bow of Red Flashing and unleash the doom of the Crawling Gauntlet of Creepiness upon them all. I watched patiently, but I'm not sure I understood even afterward. All I really know for sure is that most of the random acts of magic caused badguys to come out of the ground.

The movie's one asset is the visual imagery of an early scene where the hero falls into a tree and meets some dead goddess. During this scene, the fog and lavish clothing and wind and outstretched arms combined to make an affecting dramatic fantasy image. But even this was ruined by a grunt in a cheesy monster suit. So I can't recommend this movie to anyone on any grounds. It's shrill, obnoxious, and obtrusive, and is best avoided.