THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982) is one of a string of fantasy movies, like DRAGONSLAYER and the CONAN films, that came out in the early 1980s.
Lee Horsley (of TV's "Matt Houston") plays Talon, a mercenary with a silly, three-bladed sword that can shoot (!) his enemies. Talon rediscovers his royal heritage when he is recruited to help Princess Alana (Kathleen Beller) thwart the plans of tyrant Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch) and sorcerer Xusia (Richard Moll). The bad guys are trying to conquer various kingdoms and just generally walk around being not nice all the time. Some nudity and gore has been thrown into the mix to distract from the terrible acting and plot.
Wow, this was bad. I have a very high tolerance for bad movies, but this one stretched me to the breaking point. There is nothing redeeming here -- the script is terrible; the acting is bad; the effects are laughable; the plot is unnecessarily convoluted; the cinematography and editing are choppy. The whole film is just so darn clunky that it's nearly impossible to watch. The only faint praise I can provide is that the music isn't terrible.
As bad as the film is, the video transfer is unfortunately even more disappointing. The picture is hazy and extremely grainy -- at times, I felt like I was watching an old VHS cassette from the 1980s. The DVD probably isn't helped by the low budget nature of the film, the many dimly lit scenes (likely used to hide the lack of sets), and the use of many red and orange hues. Colors are drab, faded, and weak.
Even more alarming is the incredible number of compression artifacts I found on the disc. Regardless of the state of the original elements, there is little excuse for there to be that much digital noise on a transfer in this day and age. I expected more from Anchor Bay.
The film is presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen edition and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. However, even this presents problems. I have no idea how the movie was originally filmed or how it was projected in theaters, but the framing on the DVD seems very, very tight to me. This may just be the case of a hack filmmaker who doesn't know how to properly position his actors, but I found myself wishing for a full-frame version to watch instead.
Anchor Bay has remastered the soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1. It is not a very dynamic track, with limited range. Surrounds are used sparingly and mostly for musical score. Even though the sound won't amaze you, it also doesn't have any major flaws -- the music is well presented and the dialog is usually clear and easy-to-understand. A 2.0 track is also provided.
There are no real extras on the DVD, aside from two theatrical trailers and a TV advertisement.
I really can't recommend this film to anyone. If you are not a fan of "Conan"-type movies, you won't be even remotely interested in this one. If you are a fan, you'll likely be disappointed by the poor quality of the sets, effects, script, and just about every other aspect of this film. Unlike some other "cheesy" 80s films that have been released lately (like KRULL or ENEMY MINE), this movie has nothing going for it.
Even fans of the film will probably be disappointed with the poor treatment it has received on DVD. Although I'm sure Anchor Bay didn't have much to work with in terms of source material, the video transfer is very difficult to watch and there are no extras included to at least help us understand how the movie turned out so terribly.
If you're still curious about the film after reading all of this, definitely rent it first. Also, stick around for the ending credits where they invite you to watch for Talon's next adventure in the sequel "TALES OF THE ANCIENT EMPIRE". I wonder why that never came out? :)