The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)

Rating:

USA. 1984.

Crew

Director – John Broderick, Screenplay – John Broderick, Story – John Broderick & William Stout, Producers – John Broderick & Frank Isaac, Photography – Leonard Solis, Music – Louis Saunders, Special Effects – Richard Lennon, Makeup Effects – Chris Biggs, Art Direction – Emmett Baldwin. Production Company – New Horizons

Cast

David Carradine (Kain), Luke Askew (Zeg), Maria Socas (Naja), William Marin (Bal Caz), Anthony DeLongis (Kief), Harry Townes (Bludge), Arthur Clark (Burgo)

Plot

The dark-clad warrior Kain arrives at the town of Yamatar. The town is divided between two rival warlords, Zeg and Bal Caz. After demonstrating his skill by single-handedly eliminating a group of fighters who refuse to let him have water from the well in the town’s central square, Kain hires himself out to both sides. In doing so, he pits both factions against each other, while deftly avoiding the conflict he stirs. In the midst of this, he determines to rescue Naja, the beautiful sorceress that Zeg keeps prisoner.

This was one of the films that came out amid the 1980s upsurge in sword and sorcery films. This emerged out of the interest in science-fiction adventure that came with the success of Star Wars (1977) or ‘science fantasy’ as George Lucas preferred to call it. Popular hits such as Excalibur (1981) and Conan the Barbarian (1982) then turned the genre towards fantasy and resulted in the production of a good number of low-budget sword and sorcery films, most of which came from Italy.

The Warrior and the Sorceress is one example of the conceptual confusion that these two relatively new genres were creating. Some of the films – good examples being Krull (1983) and Gor (1987) – ended up trying to exist with feet in two different genres – they were planetary adventures but also fantasy films where dragons and the like existed alongside rayguns. This is even more evident in The Warrior and the Sorceress – the shooting title was Kain of the Dark Planet, which marks it as science-fiction, only for the title it finally emerged with, The Warrior and the Sorceress, to sell it as a fantasy film. The location looks like a standard fantasy kingdom but has two moons in the sky, which suggests another planet, and yet we also have elements like a sorceress (although admittedly the film is fairly low-key on other fantastical magical elements).

The film is a blatant copy of Akira Kuroswa’s Yojimbo (1961), which concerns a lone ronin during the shogun era who arrives in a small town and finds it riven between two rival criminal factions where he sells his skills as a swordsman to either side only to play them off against each other. The basic set-up of Yojimbo has been borrowed by a number of other films, including the Sergio Leone Western A Fistful of Dollars (1964), translated into the Prohibition era in Walter Hill’s Last Man Standing (1996) and the post-holocaust era in Albert Pyun’s cheap Omega Doom (1996).

The Warrior and the Sorceress works as an okay sword-and-sorcery entry of this period. John Broderick gives the world more texture and credibility than most of the aforementioned cheap Italian copies. The film is economically contained to fairly much a single outdoor set of the town square and a limited number of indoor sets. There is one mildly imaginative scene where we get an erotic striptease from a six-breasted dancer. David Carradine does the mystical warrior role he was cast as in numerous B movies throughout the 1980s and 90s following his role as the shaolin warrior in the hit tv series Kung Fu (1972-5). The story works okay but the various betrayals of the two sides and games that Carradine plays never works with any particularly captivating originality – after he is constantly rubbing their face in it, you keep wondering why either warlord goes back and trusts him one more time.

Director John Broderick had earlier made the moonshine film Bad Georgia Road (1977) and would make one other film as director and produce several others, including Howling VI: The Freaks (1991) and Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991). The Warrior and the Sorceress was a production from Roger Corman’s New Horizons and was one of several sword-and-sorcery films that he made that were shot in Argentina, including also Deathstalker (1983), Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (1984) and Barbarian Queen (1985), all produced and sometimes directed by Hector Olivera.


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