Weak “Conan the Barbarian” knockoff
In a distant fantastical past, the rightful heir of a conquered kingdom (Lee Horsley) returns to his homeland as the formidable leader of a mercenary band. He assists “Prince” Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale) and his cute sister (Kathleen Beller) to overthrow the evil king (Richard Lynch) and his former evil sorcerer (Richard Moll).
“The Sword and the Sorcerer” debuted two weeks before “Conan the Barbarian” in the spring of 1982 and it’s just a second-rate S&S adventure by comparison. It’s heroic fantasy with the tone of Star Wars, but without the blockbuster budget and in-depth characters. In light of the somewhat kiddie vibe I was surprised by the female top-nudity. “Conan” was heroic fantasy as well, but it lacked the Star Wars air, had more interesting characters, a compelling story and a mind-blowing score by Basil Poledouris. I’m surprised that BOTH movies raked in roughly the same amount domestically at the box office, almost $40 million.
Speaking of the story, the set-up in the first act is too convoluted to create any drive, although the opening on Tomb Island where the hideous Xusia is resurrected in the bowels of the earth is well done. Horsley is gallant and Beller is adorable, but the characters are paper thin. At just over an hour and a half, the tortuous story has no time to breathe and therefore fails to flesh-out the heroes or villains, like “Conan” did. That said, some of the characters are kinda memorable, like the spirited black warrior (whom I can’t discern from the cast list). While there are worthwhile bits throughout this movie they don’t amount to a quality S&S picture. “The Sword and the Sorcerer” is decidedly bush league.
The end credits claim that the sequel is “coming soon.” Actually, it didn’t surface until 28 years later under the title “Abelar: Tales of an Ancient Empire” (2010).
The film runs 1 hour, 39 minutes and was shot in Southern Cal (Griffith Park, Los Angeles; Culver City; and Riverside).