Hawk the Slayer (1980)

Article 2333 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-15-2007
Posting Date: 1-1-2008
Directed by Terry Marcel
Featuring Jack Palance, John Terry, Bernard Bresslaw

When an evil man kidnaps an abbess and holds her for ransom, his good brother reunites with a dwarf, a giant and an elf in an attempt to defeat him.

Most of the fantasy I’ve covered to date has been of the light variety; true epic fantasy was fairly rare in cinema until the eighties, when special effects technology began opening up the possibilities of what could be done. There was some epic fantasy in earlier years, but most of it based on mythology or fairy tales. I like epic fantasy enough that I feel the desire to cut this movie some slack; it was really one of the first of its kind. And every once in a while, it actually has a nice moment here and there that indicates that someone had a feel for what they were doing. Unfortunately, these end up just being moments; the movie suffers from a plethora of problems, not least of which is an inadequate budget. Weak direction, uneven pacing, and highly variable acting also serve to undermine the movie, which comes across as cheesy and/or corny way too often. It’s also very hard to buy the quite youthful John Terry and the sixty-one year old Jack Palance (and he looks every year of it) as brothers. Terry fails to project an engagingly heroic persona, but the biggest disappointment is Palance’s performance; though Palance is fully capable of giving great performances and has the ability to exude menace with the best of them, he chooses to really chew the scenery in this one, and it becomes impossible to take him seriously. Maybe it’s no surprise that the movie depends too much on tepid comic relief. I don’t know how well this movie did at the box office; I only know that it never played in any theater near me, and that it sets itself up for a sequel that never happened, so I’m betting it was a flop.



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