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Hey folks.... Harry here.

You know, some movies are just 2 hours and some movies are a lifetime. What John McTiernan and Michael Crichton did in making THE 13TH WARRIOR is to give you 2 hours.

I feel they succeed.

It seems critics are ravaging the film. Tearing it from limb to limb, but I can not in good conscience do that. Now I will not say this is a perfect film or that it came anywhere near flawless filmmaking.

It didn’t.

Those ugly nighttime shots where the sky is this hidieous blue and it looks like crap in a semi-NTSC video haze.... UGH! Surely someone in the world told McTiernan that that sequence in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER where the Red October is going up the Potomac (I think that’s the river) was hidieously ugly. I hate that fake blue.

And during those scenes I just cringed and bit my pinky fingernail to that lighter pink area. Ugh.

I couldn’t help but think that in all the time this film sat on a shelf, somebody didn’t tell them.... Hey... Let’s have POP do a really beautiful night sky with a billion specks of stars gleaming behind them. WHY HAVE IT LOOK LIKE BLUE CARDSTOCK?


Or... Why go with a predominantly Muslim themed score by Goldsmith? This film SCREAMED to be scored by Poledouris and those battles needed to have an EPIC feel to them. Instead the music made them... little.

Lastly... Man.... I wish we had seen more interaction amongst the 13. I feel as if I barely knew the men who died. In THE MAGNIFICIENT SEVEN.... we know all the guys. We know what drives them, what makes them fight just so they can have a place to live. Of course... with 13 such characters... I can understand the anemia of character development amongst the whole.

Oh... and one other nitpick. The fight scenes. My god... Pull your friggin camera back... Let’s see what is happening in there. To me.... it felt as if the entirety of the action was shot through medium to close-ups.... very few mastershots. Nothing to give you any real sense of scale to the battles.

Now... I know. From the look of this review I’m trashing it. But... nothing could be farther from the truth. I hold this genre to a very high ideal. I want films as good as say... Richard Fleischer’s THE VIKINGS..... or EL CID.

I am still waiting on an epic sword film to give me the etheral feeling of a Frazetta painting. That raw intensity and emotion. The sense of power and motion.

So... Right now, I’m in a holding pattern. The next film I must hope to nail it dead on is Luc Besson’s JOAN OF ARC. Then after that I guess I must hope upon Ridley Scott’s THE GLADIATOR. And still.... after that I must pray that Peter Jackson flawlessly delivers THE LORD OF THE RINGS. But ya know....

This movie kills the time. It isn’t a great film in the genre. Some may even argue that it’s not even a good one. But I will argue right back atcha.

I am a Six Foot Tall, 318 pound, long red-haired, burly bearded fella that somewhere in the back of his head fantasizes about cleaving people and monsters in half with a great double-bladed axe whilst riding upon a great steed pumping a chiminey’s worth of smoke from it’s nostrils while cascades of crimson gore part ways.

I spent years of my life working at a Rennasaince Fair in costume and in character for weekends at a time. Bladed weapon upon my hip and an accent every bit as dull.

I love bloody hack and dice action films. And this one isn’t quite as glorious as THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER.... and nowhere near the hallmarks of CONAN THE BARBARIAN and EXCALIBUR. It’s not quite at the LADYHAWKE or FLESH & BONE level either. But.... It doesn’t suck.

There are segments where the movie nails it. Where I can feel that early man bonding thing happening and I want to get in there and sink my bladed weapon till I hear the cracking and breaking of bone and sinew.

There are points where, as cornball as it may sound, I shed tears of pride at that Viking Prayer moment..... You’ll know the one.

I love the fact that other than Omar Shariff and Antonio Banderas.... I don’t know ANY of these big mofos. All I know is.... They kick ass!

This is the sort of film, that had it had a score of IMMENSE POWER.... I would have forgave every single flaw I have mentioned. As it is, I forgave many of them simply because.... for the moments that it does work.... I am all smiles.

This is a two hour movie. For the two hours I watched I was happy and glad to be in the place and time that I was in. However... This isn’t EL CID or EXCALIBUR.... movies that I take with me and love all the days I walk and breathe.

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 1, 1999, 4:57 p.m. CST

    Zorro meets Conan

    by JediFunk

    I guess Antonio, after his success with Zorro, is using his sword skills Hey I am I first? How lame!...but Cool..

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 5:08 p.m. CST

    Good Review.

    by Clockwork Taxi

    Harry, I coudln't agree with you more. For this supposedly being the worst movie of the year, it's far from it. It's not half bad, but it's not half good either. But I think this is a perfect summer movie, you can ignore the flaws and just have fun with it. The last battle scene is horribly shot. I had the same feeling with Deep Blue Sea, even though I would take Deep Blue Sea over this movie any day. They're both all in good fun. And that's what summer movies are about. Too bad I can't say the same for The Haunting or Wild Wild West, which are two of the worst films of the decade.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 5:11 p.m. CST

    Harry'r right

    by Doug Maul

    I'm first! ...and it's true this film isn't amazing, but it really didn't try to be anything more than it was. I liked it.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 5:13 p.m. CST

    All things considering....

    by Choda

    I didn't think this movie was all that bad. I mean, I know this movie went through all kinds of production problems and then sat on the shelf for a year from a lack of no confidence by the studio. But end the end, I think it turned out pretty well. I went in expecting a Xena episode and actually got a really good movie. I just wish it could have been a little more like the book, but oh well. Oh, and all those no name actors were great!

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Zero for Conan

    by Arawn

    I love hack and slash/fantasy themed movies if they are good. This one did not make it anywhere near good. The only good experience I had in this move was that I only had to pay twilight price instead of full fair. This movie had all sorts of elements that were only partially fleshed out. Why is Achmed from Baghdad? Why is Omar Sharif even in the movie? Why do we have to see Achmed learning to understand Norse? Why do they bother with Achmed's love interest whose name we never learn? How did a supposedly primitive race field cavalry? How did the same primitive race manage to have every single one of their members dressed in bear skins when that would have depleted the entire continent of bears? What was the point of the scenes with the treacherous son of the Norse Lord? The list just keeps going on. This movie felt like a two hour long, medieval version of the A-Team.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 5:26 p.m. CST

    El Cid

    by Ptah

    El Cid was good, but umm...the suits were BAD. I may be anal about this but sheesh: leather or whatever it was painted to (badly) look like chainmail? Gimme a break dude. Even in the cheapo dutch tv series "Floris" (Black/White, Paul Verhoeven, Rutger Hauer) the actors were wearing REAL chainmail and/or plate. *foam* (pity they don't have english subtitles, as recently the best of those were re-released on VHS cheaply) :-)

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 5:55 p.m. CST

    Something's bothering me...

    by MattHat

    and that something is the fact that Harry almost always finds a way to like a movie. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that 80% of the movies he sees he likes. That seems a bit high. I'm not accussing Harry of anything, but I just think its important to note that Harry likes a lot of the movies that come out these days. A lot more than most people anyway. Just something to consider when you read his reviews.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 6:09 p.m. CST

    hack movies (spoilers :) )

    by Jab

    I don't know what it is about these movies, I like them muchly. The only stuff that bothered me about the film were a few odd colour transitions (like Harry noted, from a "red" day to a "blue" night), and loose ends all around (what's with the son, what the hell was that at the end, they kill the leader and they what, all die? kill themselves? the old I know that's not a loose end, but still. I was reminded of the woman from Scene 24 (or whatever number it was) from Holy Grail). Nonetheless I enjoyed it more than WWW because at least this movie took itself seriously for what it was worth. And I also get a huge kick out of people wearing armour hacking each other apart with swords/axes/etc... I didn't mind that the battles were pretty much only shown from "close range" (after all, there were only 13 warriors, right?), and that they didn't go into more details about the camaraderie/relationships between the men, after all it WAS called the 13th Warrior, and not the 13 Warriors. My biggest laugh is in something I didn't see (I probably just missed it): the line that said "No animals were harmed during the making of this film" during the credits. :)

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 6:25 p.m. CST

    This is the best Viking film ever, Harry is wrong

    by BigBudget

    Best Viking film ever, perfect. Great swordplay, The Sword and the Shit sucks, Excalibur is lacking. 13th Warrior is worth a purchase on DVD. Great Great, worst review for Harry. Is it not funny how certain flicks Harry doesnot pick apart and other flicks he cannot stop trashing? The Sword and ThSorcerer is really bad and Tron loses steam at the end.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 6:44 p.m. CST


    by Hotwire

    for all of you who wonder "why did such and such character do that" you need to read two books (hopefully you will have the patence for one of them) the first it a old old poem calle BEOWULF this you might recognise the name Grendel in this story, its long and many consider it dull, but there is some intresting stuff. for those who just dont have the patence here is a summery. a king makes a dining hall, and every night this monster named Grendel atacks it, no warior can stand against the grendel untill a man named Beowulf arives he fights grendel and tears off the beasts arm. grendel comes back the next night and Beowulf kills grendel, this pisses off grendels mom and Beowulf is forced to take her on in her underground lair, beowulf kiss her. somewhere in all the story (its been awhle since I read it) he fights a fire dragon, and at the end he dies a hero . see the resembelance? the second book is Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton. the idea behind this book (which the 13th warior is bassed on) is that this is the actual event that the poem of Beowulf was based on. now go back and watch the movie. you might have a difrent apreciation for it.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 6:45 p.m. CST

    Beowulf( sorry 4 the typos )

    by Hotwire

    for all of you who wonder "why did such and such character do that" you need to read two books (hopefully you will have the patence for one of them) the first it a old old poem called BEOWULF this you might recognise the name Grendel in this story, its long and many consider it dull, but there is some intresting stuff. for those who just dont have the patence here is a summery. a king makes a dining hall, and every night this monster named Grendel atacks it, no warior can stand against the grendel untill a man named Beowulf arives he fights grendel and tears off the beasts arm. grendel comes back the next night and Beowulf kills grendel, this pisses off grendels mom and Beowulf is forced to take her on in her underground lair, beowulf kills her. somewhere in all the story (its been awhle since I read it) he fights a fire dragon, and at the end he dies a hero . see the resembelance? the second book is Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton. the idea behind this book (which the 13th warior is bassed on) is that this is the actual event that the poem of Beowulf was based on. now go back and watch the movie. you might have a difrent apreciation for it.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 6:51 p.m. CST

    It was the Penobscot in Red October

    by Hollywoodsux

    I know because I live there, it was the Penobscot river in Maine. Sure who cares, but I thought it was neat!

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 7:01 p.m. CST

    by BlueHarlequin

    Yeah, this movie definately had its weak bits: the old mystic woman, the useless love interest character, the flaws in logic concernig the evil dudes ( all wearing bear skins and riding horses.. if they lived in caves, where did they keep their horses?) But in the moments when this film succeeds.. it triumphs. And I liked the score alot Harry, I thought it was perfect in scope. I mean c'mon, the film really wasn't that epic in scale anyway.. it was really just 13 guys. I remember reading in a few places that the director didn't get the cut that he wanted. Crichton got the final cut. Perhaps all the loose ends would make sense in a director's cut.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 7:08 p.m. CST

    I think you mean FLESH AND BLOOD.


    Though some of the critics might say that Meg Ryan, Dennis Quaid and James Caan flick FLESH AND BONE was more exciting that 13th WARRIOR, I do believe you speak of the Rutger Hauer/Paul Verhoven flick FLESH AND BLOOD (aka THE SWORD AND THE ROSE). Damn good movie! No, 13th WARRIOR doesn't live up to those flicks, but hell, I like it okay. Beast wishes all.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 7:29 p.m. CST

    Here's what I think...

    by stomachVSheart

    I will agree with you on SOME accounts, Harry... this movie doesn't suck. But it only has one or two redeeming factors that kept my interest through the whole thing. It was very bloody and the body count was impressive. Everybody will be morbidly fascinated by this, of course. As well, several scenes stood out far beyond the rest of the movie (I will be vague to avoid spoilerism) The old Viking/red hair guy fight thing, and the head bad guy cave thing. But the rest of the movie was full of continuity problems and felt patched together. I mean, what's up with Antonio's quote-unquote love interest? Ah, well. Can't win them all.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 7:37 p.m. CST

    Bortma is an idiot.

    by The Cleaner

    Your many exclamation points force a sideways scrolling nightmare upone the rest of the world. Prey I don't learn were you live.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 8:06 p.m. CST

    BigBudget.. you are incorrect!

    by Fawst

    The best viking movie ever made was Erik the Viking. 'nuff sed.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 8:09 p.m. CST

    This movie blew

    by Crickers

    Harry, what have you been smoking? This movie was the worst film I've seen all year. The battle scenes had no energy at all--they seemed to just end. Antonio Banderas's character had no depth at all. And what was witht that dog!? C'mon Harry, even you had to groan when that dog was getting in on the last fight scene. A few scenes in the cave were nicely done and the montage where Iban was learning the language was cool. But that's about it.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 8:24 p.m. CST

    13th Warrior

    by Bobby Bowfinger

    I found this to be a very entertaining movie. Some of the cinematography, sets, and costumes were excellent. I was thinking to myself at times - Man, I hope LOTR looks this good. On the other hand, there were some shots where you couldn't see anything at all. It's too bad they didn't spend a little more time on the characters and story. I noticed in the credits that they had names for all the warriors (and other vikings)and after these names they gave each one a one or two word description in brackets such as (Dour) or (Big Guy) to help you identify who was who. Some of the actors in this movie would have been great in LOTR - for example, I thought the guy who plays the leader of the 13 warriors could make a great Aragorn (with dark hair that is). Someone mentioned this earlier, but I had the same thought at the end of the film. It must have been very difficult for the evil tribe to collect enough bear's heads for everybody and there must not have been any bears left for hundreds of miles around.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 10:33 p.m. CST

    13thWarrior = Braveheart without a point...but I still liked it

    by Stefka

    I agree with Harry. This movie isn't that great - but it is really enjoyable if you don't take it too seriously and go to a theater to see stuff get hacked. Yay gore! I want some more!!! Oh and the idiot who made his title long with a bunch of exclamation points: you are a retard.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 11:32 p.m. CST

    A diamond in the rough...

    by Encelladus

    "The 13th Warrior" is the kind of feel-good quest against impossible odds that doesn't drop the ball for Hollywood's sake, keeping a believably cool ending instead of making Antonio into an instant super-warrior or something. Sure, "Warrior" isn't perfect, but watch it again. Remove your expectations about how the movie will unfold and accept it for what it is, and you'll see it's even better the second time around. Anyway, it sure beats USA Network's constant reruns of "The Beastmaster," right?

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 11:46 p.m. CST

    Sounding better...

    by Daredevil

    I have yet to see this movie, but back when I heard it was going to be coming out, I hurried and read the book (called "Eaters of the Dead", for anyone who doesn't know). I thought the book kicked butt, then I saw the ads for the movie on TV. I started getting worried that they were going to screw it up (story-wise) when I saw lots of shots of Antonio swashbuckling around. His character's the frickin' narrator and doesn't show much of any fighting ability (or even bravery) until the end of the book! Now they've gone and turned him into the hero of the movie, that was supposed to be Buliwyf! It sounds like my fears are unreasoned (although the ads are going to disappoint people that are *expecting* to see Antonio whup ass) judging from some of your comments. Unfortunately it sounds like some of the effects and cinematography aren't up to par. As for those of you whining about the story, calling it "Braveheart without a point," does a movie have to follow a strict Hollywood model? If there's a love interest in the movie, does it always have to be followed up with them falling in love (or her dying)? Does the lead have to be the hero? I say no. If they want to do an unconventional story that doesn't fit someone's expected mold, I say good for them. So they throw in some scenes showing the Arab learning Norse. I think that makes it a little more realistic. Or do you want him to just automatically understand them (he's got a Star Trek universal translator or something, right?) The only thing wrong with the story that I've heard from those of you that have seen it is that there isn't enough characterization of the other 11 warriors. In the book I can remember at least 4 distinct Vikings (aside from the leader) having a decent amount of characterization in the book. And it made the story better, knowing some of these guys and then having some of them get killed along the way. If they didn't do enough of this, that's too bad. All in all, you guys are convincing me to at least go watch it.

  • Sept. 1, 1999, 11:59 p.m. CST

    Not that bad!

    by cliometrician

    I liked 13th warrior; thought it was pretty good. Not great, mind you, but an entertaining two hours. And Harry, I agree on two movies you mentioned: I loved Excalibur and Sword and Sorcery, but I'll probably offend everyone here by saying that I thought Conan the Barbarian was one of the dullest films I have ever seen. It was one of two movies that I literally fell asleep in (the other being the original Batman). Oh, yea, one of the 13 warriors, the one who insulted Ibn's mother, and who died by arrows when trying to put out a fire in the first cavalry assault, was GREAT this summer at the Globe Theater in London as Cassius in Julius Caesar.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 2:04 a.m. CST

    Harry you have no idea what your'e saying

    by litestorm

    Harry has once again shown he that he has zero knowledge of soundtracks. He trashed Golsmith's BRILLIANT score for The 13th Warrior. This is coming from the same man who trashed another OUTSTANDING Goldsmith score for The Mummy. And to top it all Harry rated the Goldsmith score for The Haunting ahead of John Williams' score for The Phantom Menace. Harry a tip for you why don't you visit the site for "Film Score Monthly" and Filmtracks, these 2 sites who are exclusively soundtrack sites have rated Goldsmith's score for The 13th Warrior as his best since Total recall and Basic Instinct. His score for The Mummy was also highly praised. Your remarks about soundtracks lately have been embarrasingly naive. What is wrong with Muslim music by the way? I think you should try and keep your ears open as well as your eyes whilst watching a film.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 2:43 a.m. CST

    Expected it to suck, so I wound up enjoying it.

    by Brendan3

    With all the release delays John McTiernan directed THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR after this, but got it out earlier) and title changes and stories of fights in the editing room, I was expecting garbage. So I went in with low expectations and wound up enjoying it for what it was, a loose adaptation of Beowulf complete with vikings battling cannibal hordes and noble fearless warriors that were reminiscent of The Seven Samurai. It was a fun popcorn movie. Yeah, there were holes in the logic, but more disturbing were all the subplots that went nowhere or references to subplots we know nothing about, all obvious victims of the editing process. Hopefully these were just edited for running time not because they suck and hoefully we'll see them on a special edition DVD some day.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Actor identification

    by Nic

    I haven

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 8:23 a.m. CST

    Cutting scenes killed this movie!!!

    by 6666

    Was it me, or did it seem like large sections of the film were chopped out? Think about all the plot holes and leaps in logic? God, it seemed like the vikings could have done a better job of editing the first half of this film!...Too bad, because the last hour rocks big time - and the battle sequences are beautiful as well as violent...I guess it's worth seeing if you don't mind paying to watch only half a movie.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 9:45 a.m. CST

    13th Warrior- Lame title

    by PipsOrcle

    Why the hell couldn't they just stick with Eaters of the Dead, cause that title is original and does say a lot about the Vikings! I mean, what the hell does 13th Warrior mean anyway?! When I read Michael Crichton's "Eaters of the Dead", it was about "The Vikings" and how gruesome the period was. Probably the marketing strategy. Geez... 13th Warrior isn't all that successful. Maybe they could have just sticked to the original title, then that might have drawn a better crowd.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 9:50 a.m. CST

    the 13th warrior

    by JON1969

    first things first, the score by jerry goldsmith was grandiose.. i love the scene where the warriors were being selected or rather, they decided to join the fight... great! the actors who played the vikings were perfect, each one filled the bill, they were heroic,impressive in size,courageous, and noble. did the films have problems, yes it did, it was to short in length, the film seemed choppy it places..the editing was not the best ... but, i enjoyed it. i felt that the film was better than The sword and the sorcerer ... much better, the actors displayed such presence... the leader of the vikings gets my vote for Conan ... hell, if Arnold thinks he's to old to do Crusade ... get this guy! the costumes were very good, the camera shots were upclose and definitely in your face ... they were to short, but they were , in my opinion, nicely constructed... fast and ferocious. I would have liked more details dealing with the viking culture... but there was no way Touchstone were going to allow those details to be seen on the screen... the sexual acts and etc. do we need to know more about these guys ... not really,this is a film of mood .. and the feel of primal violence and battle. i love the last scene, where the leader of the vikings and his mangy dog go to meet the enemy... the warriors become stronger by the mere sight of their greatest warrior and leader! i did not have a problem with the dog... this scene nearly brought forth tears ... i dearly wished the fight scene would have been longer, but atlast it was not ... i enjoyed the film, i just wanted it to be longer ... i will buy this puppy on DVD ... and hopefull, get all of the deleted scenes restored... and put this baby right next to Conan the Barbarian ...! if you like conan and films of that kind check this one out! is is better than what the critics have said about it and i enjoyed it more than Harry did, but that just comes down to particular taste and nothing more!

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 12:05 p.m. CST

    The 13th Warrior's soundtrack...

    by Simon-T

    I still have to see the movie (in Italy it will be released next fall), but the soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith is a wonderful piece of art... Basil Poledouris wasn't never able to repeat an exploit such as that in CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Goldsmith instead, is a surprise, score after score... I'm sure this music will fit in the scenes in a perfect way. Ciao.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 1:54 p.m. CST


    by JON1969

    I totally agree with KS ... you hit it on the nail perfectly! I salute you and may the Gods of Heroic Film bless you ......

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 3:45 p.m. CST

    Enjoyed the movie... And I want a sword.

    by angry

    I thought it was a great movie. I went in there thinking "I want to see people die", and I came out saying "I saw people die... I want a sword motherfucker!" Anyway, and what about Harry's reviews having him liking 80% of the movies he sees. Y'see, I only see movies that LOOK interesting to me, and thus, the majority of the movies I end up actually seeing I enjoy. I figure it's better than paying to see shitty movies, don't you?

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 7:57 p.m. CST


    by Integra

    SPOILERS: This movie was a tremendous surprise for me. Easily the best fantasy epic ive seen since Excalibur. Braveheart was a nice movie, but it was simply too caught up in the superhero ego gibson aspect. 13th on the other didnt. There was no super human feats of glory performed by Banderas at the end, instead you saw him except his mortality. The ending could have been improved by slight changes in the editing, such as a smoother showing of how the horde realized their king was defeated, and subsequently left in dismay. It occured to instantaneously in this edit. However these are small gripes compared to so many other movies.They didnt overplay the love aspect in this movie, i bought it, it was simply a conjugal experience which occured during war. Also all the humor was done very tastefully and was never to the point of cornball ham. Conan (the original) is a great movie, but im sorry the fight scenes in conan cant hold a candle to 13th warrior. If you doubt this, rewatch conan and you may be surprised at how you REMEMBER it and how it is with your present sensibilities. The fight scenes in conan range from decent to Bad (the scene where the female warrior fends off two guards while escaping from james jones' temple is laughable). Anyhow this movie is completely mismarketed, i mean cmon the trailer had Enigma playing in it. The costumes were fabulous. Too bad the studio didnt have more confidence in this film, it could have been MUCH bigger given better marketing.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 8:20 p.m. CST


    by dirsimm

    You do realize that this story is not fictional right? That there actually was a manuscript of this found? I loved the movie. I had different problems with it than most people I think. I found there were too many sword "shinging" sounds. Someone gets stabbed in flesh and there is a "shing" I saw this movie twice and it was more apparant the second time. That really pissed me off the most. I had no more problems with it strangely. I read the book first so it sort of lost somethign for me, but I closed off my mind and enjoyed it for what it was, a testosterone filled damn good medieval movie.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 8:25 p.m. CST

    Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan and Beowulf

    by Jamie_Rife

    I have read several different reviews of The 13th Warrior, and most of them trash the movie. It seemed to me that the critics simply did not get it. The plot (and Crichton's book) is largely based upon the epic Beowulf. This much is apparent in the movie, especially with the names of some of the characters such as Buliwyf (son of Hygelac), King Hrothgar, his son Wyglaf, etc. The mood and feel of the movie even mirrors that found in the epic poem. A neat addition to the plot was Banderas' character Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan. Fahdlan was a real historical figure from Bagdad who was sent to the Viking (Swedish Rus) settlements on the Volga River in A.D. 921. Several of the incidents shown in the film are from his written memoirs. For example, the scene where the Vikings pass around a bowl of nasty water to "clean" themselves is related as fact by Fahdlan in his text. Hence, the story is placed in some kind of historical context, which I think works quite well. I really enjoyed the musical score, since it fit the mood of the film. I think a more grandiose track (along the lines of Conan the Barbarian) would have unnecessarily detracted from the action sequences. As far as the use of close-ups in the battle scenes, I think the idea was to see a warrior's eye view of the fights and show the brutality of Dark Age warfare. In sum, I really enjoyed The 13th Warrior, but I think a lot of people will miss the movie's point since they have read neither Beowulf nor Ibn Fahdlan.

  • Sept. 2, 1999, 8:54 p.m. CST

    thank you jaime

    by Dooky

    I just have to say thanks for saying what i was thinking as I was panning down the talkbacks. If youve ever read beowulf you would realize what a good job this movie did of capturing the mood of the poem and the possible story of how the events of beowulf actually happened.

  • Sept. 3, 1999, 8:36 a.m. CST

    conan v.s. the 13th warrior

    by JON1969

    the fight scenes in conan the barbarian are superb. the final fight at the end between conan and doom' right hand man is outstanding!!!! i loved the 13th warrior, the fight scenes can't compare... i watched conan the other night and it is a bit dated as far as the fx.. otherwise it is perfect!!!!

  • Sept. 3, 1999, 9:35 a.m. CST

    Avoid This Film.

    by Mandala

    I watched a preview screening of this this and it was awful. It's very obvious that it was re-cut heavily. Their is no tension and there are no plot twists at all. Avoid this film. As far as those people who saw it and liked it, what are you doing on a site for people who love film? You obviously don't have a clue.

  • Sept. 3, 1999, 10:27 a.m. CST

    RE: avoid this film

    by JON1969

    you are entitled to your opinion.. and everyone on this post is entitled to their's! i believe that everyone on this post loves film otherwise they would talk about films with such passion and love... good day to you sir... and may Grendel bless you!!!

  • Sept. 3, 1999, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Rude people...

    by Simon-T

    One thing is to express our opinions on this board... Another one is to be rude and offensive... Respect other people's tastes and opinions, please. I totally agree with you, Jon1969. Ciao from Italy. PS: in any case, I still have to see THE 13TH WARRIOR. :)

  • Sept. 3, 1999, 7:37 p.m. CST


    by AlexDularj


  • Sept. 3, 1999, 8:07 p.m. CST

    I mean come on..

    by AlexDularj

    McTiernien's use of slow-mo for the very last battle added absolutely no emotion to the scene. It only SLOWED IT DOWN! In 'SS' Kurosawa uses slow motion in only 2 very important but very short shots. One when Takashi Shimura kills the thief who had kidnapped the child. And the other when the master swordsman Kyuzyo is goated into a duel with a less than worthy but belligerant opponent. He didnt want to kill him, but he was challenged. The skillfull use of slo-mo only heightens the sense of pointlessness in his death. If McTiernan had brain one, maybe the last scene would have been the most exciting like it should have been. But I guess it wouldnt make any difference either way, because I didnt really care about any of these guys anyway. Let them die, fast or slow, who gives a shit. And what the hell was with the 'romance'?? 'Seven Samurai' had romance but it was actually meaningfull due to the fact that it was forbidden. Farmers DID NOT fall in love with Samurai. See, people LIKE their movies to MEAN something. What did 'The 13th Warrior' MEAN??? 'SS' HAD meaning. Nobilty. Honor. Bravery. Love. Adventure. Fear. Loss. Excitement. 'The 13th Warrior' TRYS to have these things and fails. Know why?? cause it just....plain....SUCKS!! 'Seven Samurai' does not. All of those qualitys I was talking about are THERE. Ingrained in every frame of celluloid. For ever.

  • Sept. 4, 1999, 2:07 a.m. CST


    by Brendan3

    Just kidding! HAHAHA Seven Samurai is, was, and ever shall be a masterpiece. I just wanted to see how many people would click on to my talkback all pissed off. Gotcha.

  • Sept. 4, 1999, 9:11 a.m. CST


    by 594176

    I think this review really proves you're losing it Harry. I'm embarrassed for you.

  • Sept. 6, 1999, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Leader Died Hard

    by BnoVa

    Thia is for Harry!!! Is the leader of the 13 that guy from Die Hard one??? Now you know who 3 of the guys are... ha haha

  • Sept. 6, 1999, 6:55 p.m. CST

    Nope, it wasn't the guy from Die Hard

    by Brendan3

    In response to the above question, you're obviously thinking of the long haired blonde from Die Hard (I can't recall the actor's name) It's definitely not him, because he died two years ago. There was a long obituary. He was a dancer who had defected. He died of a heart attack if I recall correctly.

  • Sept. 7, 1999, 2:09 a.m. CST

    ass kicking at its finest

    by frankenhammer

    Just saw this flick tonite and I thought it was terrific. A lot of people are making the mistake, I think (particularly Harry) of confusing sword and sorcery (which 13th Warrior ISN'T) and revisionist mythology, which it is. There aren't any fantastic elements in this film, & I think it is stronger for it. It does have the mythic underpinnings--both of proto-mythology (myth in the making), as well as the superstitious dread of a people (the Vikings) moving slowly away from extreme primitivism (sp??). That is why the Muslim is there; he represents the highest level of civilization. The primeval cannibals represent the prehistoric low, and the Vikings are in between. That's one of the things I dug about the movie; it really is very subtle and has a lot on its mind; it just doesn't spell it out for the numbskulls in the audience. I find it funny how many critics blast the film for its supposed lack of plot, when it actually has all kinds of potent subtext happening. Such as the malformed-looking mother goddess statuary, which is based on one of the oldest carvings ever found, and represents the unformed terrible mother archetype, which also fits in really neatly with the whole Beowulf deal. Anyway, this film was not only smart, it also seriously kicked ass. It was gritty, it took itself and its subject seriously, it had appropriately bloody and chaotic action sequences. As far as the composition of the shots in the battles, it works just fine. Sure, in something like Zorro or Star Wars you want to pull back from the sword play, see plenty of master shots. Those duels are all about artistry and choreography and technical skill. Not so with medievel warfare; here it's all about brute power and hacking. Harry has a tendency sometimes to hold in too high an esteem a film he remembers fondly from childhood. Sword & the Sorcerer was fun yes (probably the best thing about it was the score), and admirable in a low-budget gutsiness sort of way, but 13th Warrior is operating at a whole other level. I am tempted to put it ahead of Conan as well since it works on other allegorical levels that Conan never even touches at, although it is perhaps unfair to both films to compare them for that reason, since they are really two different genres. Speaking of score, I think Goldsmith's work here is top notch. I thought it was very epic and sweeping; I guess what Harry was wanting was for it to be bombastic in the Poledouris sort of way (don't get me wrong--Conan is one of my favorite all time scores). I felt the Arabic theme worked very well--it dominated early on, and then was blended into and complemented the epic battle theme. KS's comments on this are right on--and more eloquently expressed than I could manage. In general the level of commentary in this talkbalk is above average, which gives me hope for the future! Now, 13th Warrior was not without its flaws, some of the editing was a little choppy, and there are a couple of shots at the end which use that fake slo-mo effect of multiple printed frames, which I will always HATE! Now the real slo-mo in that last battle worked just fine, just the fake crap was weak. The film also was not always 100% up to snuff historically, either; some of the armor was anachronistic, etc., and it did bug me a little about all the bear suits and these super primitive guys galloping around like the friggin' 6th Calvary. But these are really minor flaws. They are more than made up for by scenes like the one where the 13 are selected/volunteer. Beautiful scene, very stirring. Or the long following shot on Banderas and his Viking pal as they move through the twisting fortifications, with Banderas trying to get his armor on, and when they pop up, we have smoothly gone from waning daylight to full purple twilight. Anyway, another good flick in what is proving to be one of the best movie years in a long, long time.

  • Sept. 7, 1999, 11:33 a.m. CST

    good movie

    by winter

    i thought it was a very good movie. It was told from an outsiders point of view, and you see the world as such. You dont know much about the characters brcuase antonia doesnt know much about them. Hes an outsider from a totally differant culture and we learn as he does. The north men dont know much about each other for that matter becuase that is the culture they lived in. A savage, primitive culture in savage primitive times. But with some surprising tenderness. The scale is small becuase it was realistically portrayed. There werent all that many epic battles fought and villages werent all that big. Also your seeing the battle largely from Antonios point of view, one man. Not through helicopter shots. Antonios love interest is unknown to us becuase he barely knew her. Poeple died alot, and people had sex alot, and she took a fancy to him. Were not talking about lengthy courtship rituals. It was well paced with just a touch of mystery. sure some romantism was added, but there is alot of historical accuracy here, its not fantasy adventure. Personally, i enjoyed it.

  • Sept. 8, 1999, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Where we have seen the Lead Viking.....

    by Rugger

    I liked the flick..... Swords+blood+vikings= Entertainment...heheh! I won't try to even spell his name, but was the lead Viking (Wulfy?) Vigo. the Baddie, in Ghostbusters 2? <ACK!> I looked at him the whole movie KNOWING i've seen him before, but I was wonderin' if anyone else noticed this....

  • Sept. 8, 1999, 1:29 p.m. CST

    13th Warrior

    by The Eleminator

    It was great, but it was no Excalibur. But It was the best Viking movie (2nd best being that funny one with tim robins and the monty python cast) Excalibur doesn't count as it is a CELT film not as some people have said a viking film.

  • Sept. 8, 1999, 10:42 p.m. CST

    If you like 13th Warrior Check out THE DRAGON GATE!

    by z1dragon

    I agree with most of your comments. FYI if you like these sword flicks check out a low budget film called THE DRAGON GATE. Execellent sword fights. Bloody as hell! Great photography and some interesting philosophy too! Play on!

  • Sept. 10, 1999, 10:27 a.m. CST

    movie missed the point

    by yak

    Let's see... a book was written... it had a great ending... someone loved the book enough to turn it into a movie.. and they killed the part of the book that made it original in the process, throwing away the whole point of making it to begin with. (SPOILERS) The creatures in the book were NOT human, which is what made the book as interesting as it was! It's been a while since I read it, but they were Cro Magnon (or another early form of human, pre homo sapien). These vikings were fighting creatures that were on the way out of the evolutionary ladder, struggling to stay alive and battling with the species that ended up dominating the world (and still does). Instead, the movie turned these awesome creatures into losers in bear suits. And then, when the vikings sneak into the cave... there are no women anywhere to be seen. Except for the "mother" that they have to kill... a waif model who would be fairly cute without the absurd makeup, and who would look more in place in a Gap ad than a viking movie. So she gave birth to these hundreds of men? Not. The absurd ending ruined what could have been a great film.

  • Sept. 12, 1999, 12:15 p.m. CST

    I disagree, Harry

    by Tangent Z

    I remember a horrible fall in San Antonio (about circa 1966) when it just rained and rained and rained and was so fucking dreary. The "ugly nighttime shots where the sky is this hidieous blue.." captured that dreary time prefect and I LOVED IT. I loved the score. I am a Goldsmith fan and this is one of his better scores. I love Banderas and he was exceptional in this flim. And above all, I liked the leader of this Viking tribe. I will look up his name shortly and devour everything his has done at the local video store and hope that he will be in new files soon. I saw this film twice this month. I LIKED IT!...I would love to see "an epic sword film to give me the etheral feeling of a Frazetta painting", but this is a different genre - that is fantasy. While this film has a bit of fantastic moments (like when "Al Emin" learns the language of the Northmen simply by listening to them, a magic scene) it was very realistic to me...Harry, you complain about the closeness of the battle scenes and I understand that. I do enjoy the Far Vistas, but I learned from my first trip to central Michigan, not everywhere has skies as big as Texas. Michigan has these tall, tall trees and the sky has much, much smaller than here in Austin. This shots of these film remind me of that closeness and it is nice to see it done. It is unique and I liked it. Peace.

  • Sept. 13, 1999, 10:35 a.m. CST

    Beowolf...anyone remember that one?

    by RedBeast

    It is hard sometimes to think of such stories from our most hated years in High school English, but this is one of them. Antonio is the story teller; therefore, he is telling the story of what happened NOT the people. Sure, some of the sets weren

  • Sept. 14, 1999, 12:29 p.m. CST

    The 13th Warrior

    by Sith29Uzi

    This movie was not that good, it c/d've been better. This one s/d've been deeper and more thought of. Braveheart is still the one to beat, in my humble opinion.

  • Sept. 15, 1999, 8:54 a.m. CST

    It's an outsider's PoV

    by Myrrhibis

    Those that have mentioned that 13th Warrior is a story told from Al Emin's PoV have hit it on the head - he doesn't understand these "barbaric" ppl, but he has to learn to work with them - look at the scene with the swords chopping pikes - it explains it very clearly. As for the woman being the "mother" of the barbarians, you missed the point - in many early, Goddess-oriented cultures, there was a single (or select few) woman was was the EMBODIMENT of the Mother - that, I think, is what was meant by her presence. As to the enemy not being human, why not? To this day, there are scattered tribes of primitive ppl who are otherwise surrounded by modern man. Back in the timeframe of 13th, the Vikings wouldn't be master of all the land around them - and they WERE very superstitous. Although the editing did suck, and my biggest gripe is the riding skills of the enemy (waay too good - they wouldn't have even had stirrups - nor the Vikings, ftm), the movie captures the historical feel excellently, and shows a glimpse into a period not often touched on - save that Vikings were bloodthirsty idiots (which was not true). I'll be watching to see if Al Emin is revisited. And I think you're right about the leader being from GB 1.

  • Sept. 15, 1999, 6:58 p.m. CST

    antonio, antonio......Ahmed?!?

    by XaMerikah

    Why Banderas? I mean, why wasn't there an available, talented, middle-eastern actor cast in this role? Antonio was good, but I would have felt a bit more satisfied if i was a bit more convinced. After all, for years minority communities have been offended by the fact that other ethnicities were cast in their roles. Take a look at old westerns...have we really not evolved as much as we'd like to pat ourselves on the back for? And why haven't more people mentioned it? off my soap box...

  • Sept. 23, 1999, 12:06 p.m. CST

    13th Warrior - Miserable Experience

    by Luther67

    The 13th Warrior was one of the worst films of the year. It was a long and grueling experience ... one of those films you sit through and then shake your head in wonder ... perplexed at how all this talent, with all this money ... could possibly make a film this bad. Besides the glaring problems Harry addressed in his review there was also the sheer disappointment of the "flesh eating demons". Early on the film, while cringing at the horrible dialogue and anxiously waiting for some forward momentum, I was able to at least console myself with the fact that there would be some horrifying demons that would come ravage the countryside. Once these "demons" did appear I realized that even this simple task - creating some frightening and menacing creatures - was going to be fumbled by this group of filmmakers. Instead of menacing these creatures reminded me more of Phil Hartman's "Caveman Lawyer". I expected them to stop midscene and spout out: "I'm just a caveman ... I don't understand your swords and shields ... they scare me ...". And the climax of finding the "mother" demon? What the hell was that all about? But that was the rallying cry for this movie ... what the hell was that all about? Two hours of perplexity and boredom. And Harry ... he knows this movie tanked ... I think he found the settings to familiar and magical to give this corpse a proper burial. Luther67

  • Jan. 4, 2000, 6 p.m. CST

    This is a good movie

    by DavidStallard

    Yes, you can tell that some essential scenes were cut from the movie, making subplots like the love interest seem pointless. But overall I think this is a great movie. It doesn't succumb to trends or expectations, which is why many people were unhappy with it (just like how some people hated Blair Witch because it didn't fit into their stereotypical expectations). Many people seem to misunderstand the bad guys in this movie, though. I haven't read the book, but my interpretation after two viewings is that these guys are supernatural--they just appeared like a curse on the land, and after their leader died, they disappeared the same way. They didn't all stand in a line and commit mass suicide as some people have suggested. They simply ceased to exist. This could have been explained better, and maybe there's a scene on the cutting room floor which would clear this all up. I can't wait for the DVD, and I hope it contains many of the obviously-missing scenes.

  • May 9, 2000, 11:19 p.m. CST

    linguistics of 13th warrior

    by oh2bwise

    I risked my teaching credential and, therefore, my financial future (these ARE confidential comments, aren't they?) showing my 7th grade World Cultures classes the 20 minutes of "13th Warrior" that deals with language difference. The Old Norse/Latin/language-the-audience-can-understand sequences were the best minutes of linguistic work I've ever seen on film. No, Omar Sharif says only two lines of what, I'm assuming, is Greek. The rest is pure Latin. To hedge against losing my job over showing part of an 'R' movie, I spent two days prepping the kids on the Old English of Beowulf ("which words look like Modern English, kids?"), the Middle English of Canterbury Tales (same question), some pages from my freshman Latin grammar book ("for you who speak Spanish: what do you think this means?") and Latin contributions to highbrow English (" 'Navis nocter venit' A ship came in the night. What do you know about an animal if I say it's nocturnal? What words for ship-stuff do we have from the Latin 'navis'?") And my little bit of German helped me get them from "Vem skald wirde firste man?" to guessing that the crone is asking "Whom shall be the first man?" Kids are riveted to anything on celluloid - the Pied Piper of our times - but it was exciting to hear them puzzling out the Norse and the Latin and I will love the 13th Warrior forever for that. And Harry - Renfair!?! doing that for show!?! for money!?! with strangers? Why not join the SCA and really fight? I expect at the next war in my area, over Memorial Day weekend, I'll fall asleep to the dulcet voices of drunken men reciting (and acting out) whole scenes from the movie around the campfire, their sweat-stained leather and armor leaned against the Viking A-frames waiting for the next day's battle.

  • Aug. 31, 2006, 8:02 a.m. CST

    Wow. In my seventh grade class....

    by Wolfpack

    ..the most advanced we got was reading The Call of The Wild.