Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

Article 3831 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-30-2012
Posting Date: 2-9-2012
Directed by Jimmy T. Murakami and Roger Corman
Featuring Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, John Saxon
Country: USA
What it is: STAR WARS rip-off

When a peaceful planet is threatened by evil invaders, one of the residents escapes in a spaceship to gather mercenaries to do battle with the invaders.

Yes, it’s another ripoff of STAR WARS, but it’s probably the one I enjoy most of that type. I think the main reason is that it has a decent script from John Sayles, and just the right kind of star power to pull this sort of thing off. Given that George Lucas borrowed from Akira Kurosawa’s THE HIDDEN FORTRESS for his movie, I think it’s pretty fitting that Sayles borrows from another Kurosawa film – namely, THE SEVEN SAMURAI – for this one. It works because the mercenaries end up being a fairly interesting bunch, and the script is strong enough that neither the attempts at humor nor the attempts at pathos fall flat. If anything, it manages to be somewhat more adult than its model, especially with some of the bizarre and daring costumes they give to Sybil Danning. It’s silly at times, and the battle sequences are more confusing than entertaining, but the character bits will stay with me. My favorite line comes when a child asks the ruthless Mercenary Gelt (Robert Vaughn) if he was bad even when he was little, and he replies “I was never that little.”


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