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Sinbad of the Seven Seas
Directed by none other than Enzo G. Castellari (with some help from an uncredited Luigi Cozzi), this 1989 Cannon Films production (which followed the success of the two Hercules movies that they'd recently made, also with Lou Ferrigno in the lead) is based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade. Obviously some changes were made here and there, but it more or less follows the same basic concepts that Poe laid down way back 1845 when it was first published.
As to the story itself? When it starts, Sinbad (played by Ferrigno) discovers that the villainous Vizier named Jaffar (John Steiner) has cast a spell on his foe, the Calif Of Basra that turns its population from human into animal! He's also managed to somehow take control of the Calif (Donald Hodson), so he's basically running things now. How does this tie into Sinbad? Well, he's currently on one of his many quests, this time to track down and acquire the five gems of Basra. Once he gets his hands on those, he'll have the power to defeat Jaffar… the only problem being that Jaffer has scattered the five jewels to five different locations, each one more dangerous than the next.
Sinbad and his pals don't have much time to get this done. Jaffar isn't just going to pretend that Sinbad isn't on his trail. In fact, his next step is to usurp the of the lovely Alina (Alessandra Martines) who just so happens to be not only the Calif's daughter Alina but also the girlfriend of one of Sinbad's crew, the heroic Prince Ali (Roland Wybenga). If they don't hurry, Jaffar is going to force Alina to marry him. But before it's all over, Sinbad will have to escape from a pit full of snakes, do battle with a horde of Amazons, defeat a gang of rock men by using…. rocks, outsmart and army of ghosts and then square off against his own doppelganger. Jaffar and his right-hand woman, Soukra (Teagan Clive) aren't going to take this lying down! If that weren't enough, the movie also features amazingly terrible comic relief courtesy of Poochie The Dwarf (Cork Hubbert)!
Book-ended by weird and completely unnecessary scenes in which a mother (Daria Nicolodi of all people) reads her daughter (Giada Cozzi, Luigi Cozzi's own daughter) this adventure as a bedtime story, this film can't hold a candle to the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies but it's fun in its own really, really stupid way. If you enjoy rubber snakes, weird anachronistic dialogue, unintentional homoeroticism and insanely muscular female bodybuilders dressed like Wendy O. Williams then this is the movie for you. Yeah, fine, the effects are as cheap as the sets and the sets are as cheap as the costumes and as an adaptation of Poe's source it's maybe not so… literary, but Sinbad And The Seven Seas has its own wonky charm even if it lacks the awesomeness inherent in Harryhausen's ‘Dynamation' masterpieces. Those familiar with Enzo G. Castellari's output know that he's got a knack for directing weird, low budget, action-intensive films, Bronx Warriors and The New Barbarians are testament to that. He uses that special set of skills in this movie to keep the action coming at a steady pace. It's all reasonably kid friendly stuff, don't go into this one expecting anything too strong, but lots of ‘stuff' happens in the movie. It's disjointed and clear that ‘something' happened in the editing process, but if you're in the right frame o mind for it, this is fun stuff.
The cast are interesting to watch. Ferrigno isn't really much of an actor but he's got a lot of muscles, the kind that glisten a lot and that make him a fine choice to play a character like Hercules of Sinbad. Range? None, but he's good at fighting bad guys, breaking plastic chains and fighting rubber snakes, so he gets a pass. Alessandra Martines doesn't do much except look pretty but female body builder Teagan Clive is freakishly awesome as the female villain of the picture. The real scene stealer here, however, is John Steiner. As Jaffar he's something else. He's catty, bitchy even, and seemingly unable to control his need to chew through the scenery with reckless abandon. Any time that Steiner is on screen, this movie is gold. Cork Hubbert as Poochie is also something to see.
Sinbad And The Seven Seas arrives on a 25GB Blu-ray disc properly framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This movie has always looked more than a little soft in spots and that look carries over to this disc but having said that, detail and texture definitely get a nice uptick compared to the previous DVD release. There is some spotting noticeable on the left side of the frame for a duration around the half way point. Colors are well, print damage is never more than minor white specks and skin tones look good. No compression artifacts or edge enhancement here of any note, and the image is naturally grainy enough that it never looks like there's any noise reduction either. Detail isn't reference quality but all in all this looks alright.Sound:
The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 track is serviceable if never mind blowing. The dialogue is clean, clear and properly balanced while the score does show frequent moments of depth. The sound effects are strong without becoming overbearing and the track is free of any hiss or distortion. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.Extras:
Extras? Not much, just a trailer for the feature and a few bonus trailers, menus and chapter selection.Final Thoughts:
It kind of feels like those that gave us Sinbad And The Seven Seas were just making this all up as they were going along, but if cheap Italian knock offs, bad special effects, screwy characters and awful acting sound like your idea of a fun way to kill an hour and a half, don't miss out on this one. Kino's Blu-ray is disappointingly light in the extra features department but it looks and sounds okay. Recommended to those who know what they're getting into.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.