Friday, 20 February 2015

Great Comic Book Movies That Weren't Based On Comics: Hawk The Slayer

Well, hang on. It is complete rubbish really, but I still have a kind of grudging affection for Hawk The Slayer. Maybe it's the fact that it's Britain's only real Sword & Sorcery movie ( unless you count Sinbad & The Eye Of The Tiger ).
Maybe it's the fact that me & Philbo originally saw it on a double bill with Saturn 3, and didn't care about the no-budget special effects or the acting that'd put a dutch elm to shame.
Maybe it's because it's chock to the brim with '70's character actors slumming it, which is always a joy when you spot Patrick Magee or Warren Clarke.
Or maybe it's just because it seemed to be on BBC1 last thing on a Friday night, every Friday night, throughout the whole of the late Bronze Age.
If you've somehow yet to see it, here's the trailer:

In a mythical forest just outside Borehamwood two brothers, Voltan The Dark One ( Jack Palance, presumably on holiday in Hertfordshire that week ) and Hawk ( John Terry playing a plank of balsa ) are both in love with the same woman. Ignoring the fact that the Darth Vaderesque Palance could easily play Terry's grandfather, let alone his father, complications inevitably ensue.

Voltan is not best pleased at losing out in the romantic stakes to his kid brother, nor at not being bequeathed The Mindsword, a magical blade that flies to your hand when you telepathically call it, and after his aggressive overtures are spurned, is burnt and scarred by his prospective lady love for good measure.

Voltan goes off to sulk for a few years, while Hawk gets to emote for the camera, before going and having some offscreen adventures we don't get to see.

On his return, Voltan sets his evil revenge plan in motion. Said plan involving holding some nuns for ransom, including One Foot In The Grave's Annette Crosbie as the Mother Superior. This is such a low-rent and unambitious plan for a world-conquering bad guy that it's actually quite refreshing. Still, we are ripping off Star Wars here, sort of, which makes Annette Princess Leia. Sort of.
Anyway, this pisses the normally stoic Hawk right off.
Everybody join in: Volltaaaan!! You will die!!!!!!

And he immediately heads off, Magnificent Seven stylee, to round up some old pals to assist him in his quest to rescue the nuns, in double quick time putting together no less a fighting force than:
Annoying comedy relief dwarf Baldin, who is in no way a dwarf and not even really that much shorter than anybody else.

Bernard Bresslaw as Gort, who everybody refers to as a 'giant' instead of 'slightly tall bloke', and who sadly doesn't get to utter a Carry On-esque Phooaaarrrr! but is easily the most likeable of the good guys, him being the only one with an actual personality or acting talent.

And glum elfin archer Crow, whose amazing bow & arrow skills are accomplished with the aid of a magic editing machine.

Then there's Patricia Quinn from The Rocky Horror Show as a good witch who does a nice line in day-glo hula hoops, silly string and tennis balls.

Shane Briant, from Captain Kronos and so many other Hammer movies, also pops up as Voltan's son, even though he's more the right age to be Hawk's brother, and does his patented spoilt playboy routine, which is always fun.

Spaghetti Western style face-offs, adequately choreographed swordfights and staggeringly cheap special effects ensue, all to the tune of groovy disco synth music, and I love every cherisable second of it.

By any real standards, this is not a good, or even competent movie, but if you're in the right mood ( and I always seem to be every time I watch it ) there's a lot of fun to be had here. For instance, it's a minor thing, but I always liked the fact that, apart from the scenes at the Abbey, it all takes place outside, in a forest. Obviously, this was to save money, but I enjoy that no one seems to actually live anywhere, but instead roam the vast forest forever, like fairytale characters.  It's the same thing that Ridley Scott spent a lot more money to do in Legend and Michael J. Bassett did in Solomon Kane. In fact, I'm just gonna come right out and say it: The Kane movie is clearly just a tribute / homage to Hawk The Slayer. No? Just me then.

Astoundingly, there were plans a couple of years ago for a sequel, Hawk The Hunter, which I can only assume didn't get made due to it having an actual budget, therefore negating the whole enterprise.

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