The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

Genre: Fantasy Running Time: 1 hr. 39 min.

Release Date: April 30th, 1982 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Albert Pyun Actors: Lee Horsley, Kathleen Beller, Simon MacCorkindale, George Maharis, Richard Lynch, Richard Moll, Nina Van Pallandt, Anna Bjorn




n a time when the world was young, sorcery thrived, and wild adventure was forever in the offing, the story of “The Sword and the Sorcerer” begins. Inside a lightless cave on Tomb Island, a squadron of armored warriors witnesses a witch resurrect the hellbound demon Xusia (Richard Moll). The tyrannical King Titus Cromwell of Aragon (Richard Lynch) wishes to conquer Aedan, the richest kingdom in the world, ruled by kind and just leader Richard (Christopher Cary). With the help of the powerful sorcerer Xusia, Cromwell cannot be stopped from bringing plague and death to the dwindling armies of Aedan. This “Conan”-like introduction and opening sequence also features the most humorously engaging scene, in which Xusia rips a still beating heart from the witch to demonstrate his powers.

When Cromwell finally defeats the cherished country, the former ruler’s son, Talon (Lee Horsley), watches his father and mother perish before being forced to flee. Pursued by Cromwell’s men for many years, Talon’s existence becomes the stuff of legends as he grows to become a powerful general of the outlying black tribes.  Meanwhile, Prince Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale) strikes up a rebellion against Cromwell to prevent him from marrying Princess Alana (Kathleen Beller), as the wicked monster Xusia, another victim of the tyrant’s treachery, sits recovering in the black pits of the underworld. Cromwell’s right-hand man Machelli (George Maharis) also plots to triple-cross everyone he encounters in an effort to rise to power, allowing time for Talon to be found and propositioned by Alana to fight for the rebellion.

David Whitaker composes boisterously stirring trumpets and clashing cymbals for the action sequences and expectedly flute-heavy tunes for the bordering Dark Ages merriment. The theme music isn’t half bad, though it isn’t used nearly enough. Director Albert Pyun, most notable for his generally straight-to-DVD “Nemesis” films and cheesy, futuristic, science-fiction/fantasy works, is already comfortable with the subject matter and B-grade materials, despite this project marking his feature debut. Damsels in distress, sword-wielding knights, wild-eyed necromancers, and grimacing humanoid demons are his weapons of choice, all approached with the utmost seriousness, even when several scenes laughably fail to uphold the tone of valiance. There’s also a significant amount of violence outside the typical, less severe swordplay, as if to counter unintentional humor.

The costumes (consisting of lengthy flowing furs and polished chainmail), practical makeup effects (including many scenes of transformation and gore), elaborate sets (based in foggy castles and steaming dungeons), and medieval weaponry (excluding Talon’s technologically advanced, three-pronged, blade-shooting sword) are fun and appropriate. The acting, however, is a tad overdramatic. The villains all sport permanent scowls and speak with low, gravelly voices, the women have spotless faces and favor kneeing men in their groins for defense, and the fight choreography involves lots of high swings and slow strikes that give the hero plenty of room to maneuver (he manages to swordfight quite skillfully, even after being crucified with nails through his hands). A generic, movie-trailer-voiced narrator presides over the lapses in time for a low-budget finishing touch.  Oddly enough, it seems Pyun had plans for a sequel back in 1982, as noted in the end credits – but his follow-up “Tales of the Ancient Empire” has taken an astounding 28 years to come to fruition (and it’s a continuation in spirit only).

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10