Movie Reviews That'll Put Yer Eye Out, Kid!
The Devil's Sword (1984)
A flame-lashed, smoke-tailed meteorite crashes to earth, setting aflame the rural area, and the mind of an aged, gray-bearded fellow who finds the fiery space rock glowing hotly and beeping quirkily nearby. Perhaps wizened, but by no means unwise, the sagacious elder (beset by a blustery wind and a collapsing hut) transforms the smoldering meteor into a longish, unwieldy-looking sword. However, this is not your average longish, unwieldy-looking sword. No friends, this instrument of death is indeed the one...the only...longish, unwieldy-looking Devil's Sword!
In a local village, a man who looks both sleepy and bored is sacrificed to the infamous Crocodile Queen. (Note: Sacrifice meaning he dives into the water and swims to the Croc Queen's cavernous underground lair, where he is then greeted and fitted for a brightly colored headband. This, apart from that rather distressing headband, may explain the sacrificee's lack of concern.) Amidst a throng of women, the Crocodile Queen, dressed like the lone survivor of a disco ball accident, luxuriates on her toothsomely canopied bed and bids her headbanded harem of men, come hither. Thus ensues the most torrid, garishly-costumed gang-smooching I've ever witnessed (Spring Sing '87 be damned), but one which I simply haven't the stomach to relate.Back at the village, a wedding ceremony is rudely interrupted by the impromptu arrival of an evil warrior riding a giant floating boulder, laughing maniacally - more a comment on his mode of transportation, I believe, than any evildoing that may transpire. The warrior has been sent by the Crocodile Queen to stop the wedding, so a-stopping he must do. Consequently, a battle quickly ensues between the entire village and the warrior.
The village gets its ass kicked.
Yet, all is not lost, for in the distance a good warrior named Mandala, sitting atop a hill and astride his trusty horse, (in lieu of an airborne boulder I suppose) has looked on patiently while the village below has taken a profoundly thorough shellacking. At last, however, Mandala arrives fashionably late and confronts the evil warrior, first with a stern lecture and then with a discourse comprised of punches, kicks, and an abundance of swordplay. With Mandala having the clear upper hand, the evil warrior summons a group of crocodile men, who burst from the earth and mercilessly attack Mandala. At last, the evil warrior manages to kidnap the groom, delivering him to the Crocodile Queen, who is eager to press her hot, royal lips to some newly acquired man-chest.
When Mandala discovers later that his master is dying from "poison of fire snake"(symptom: profuse bleeding from kneecaps - cure: lopping off legs) and that a band of evil warriors who attacked Mandala's master are trying to get their grubby hands on the legendary Devil's Sword, Mandala's mission grows increasingly difficult, exceedingly dangerous, and yes, even more convoluted.
The Devil's Sword might very well be the brightest jewel in Mondo Macabro's treasure box of decidedly warped Indonesian cinema. The crackpot story and goofy characters are endlessly amusing, the acting, if it can be called that, is deliciously ridiculous, as is the dubbed dialogue. For example lines like, "Hear this: you'll regret this, you polluted bitch hound!" abound in a film that is chock-full of supremely silly scenes and nonsense at its most loonily entertaining. The fight sequences are The Devil's Sword's "finest" attribute. Curiously choreographed and verging on chaotic, these are martial arts sequences quite unlike any others I've seen. Strange stances, midair combat that looks more like footsies in flight, fountains of arterial spray, limb-lopping weapons, wind-hatching parasols, black magic, and decapitations aplenty, all add up to spawn some insanely zany action set pieces. Add to this a low-budget action sequence "inspired" by the famous opening to Raiders of the Lost Ark (substituting the giant ball of stone for a giant stone cyclops) and you'll be wondering if the pervasive smoke that accompanies many scenes can be attributed solely to a fog machine.
Star Barry Prima has a nice screen presence, made all the more exceptional by the extras that populate the screen and appear to be thinking solely about what they're going to have for lunch. It's also good fun to watch Prima as the long-maned (surely the envy of his trusty steed) hero, throw himself wholeheartedly into the role, do battle with a bunch of crazily costumed foes, and still have time for some sweet, sweet loving with that kiss-crazy Crocodile Queen.
To be sure, this everything and the kitchen sink approach makes The Devil's Sword a hilarious, off-the-wall classic that should have fans of bizarre cinema salting their popcorn with tears of joy.
Mondo Macabro's restoration of the film, using the original negative, is absolutely outstanding, especially considering the obscurity of The Devil's Sword. The film is dubbed in English, horribly, which in the case of The Devil's Sword really adds rather than detracts. Also, as usual, Mondo Macabro has included some excellent extras to accompany the film. They include three text essays, one on the film, another concerning star Barry Prima, and the last details the historical significance of swords - as it turns out, swords fashioned from meteorites are actually historically accurate. The most prominent, and entertaining extra is an interview with the purportedly reclusive Barry Prima. Prima is a difficult and unforthcoming interviewee, to say the very least, but it's interesting to watch, in a rubbernecking sort of way (though I felt bad for the interviewer who makes a valiant effort). However, I'm glad Mondo Macabro chose to include the interview as an extra on what is truly an excellent DVD.
So be sure to grab a copy on July 27th, and bask in some of that potent, muscle-bound "Prima Power"!
Related and recommended product links:
The Devil's Sword
Virgins From Hell
Also, if you haven't already, be sure to take a look at my review of Mondo Macabro's Virgins From Hell!