Hawk The Slayer (1980) (Blu-ray film review).

July 28, 2015 | By | Reply More

In vogue at the time, fantasy thrillers seemed to dominate the B-movie lists and this one is no exception. ‘Hawk The Slayer’ was made in 1980 and starring Jack Palance, John Terry and a host of other well-known British actors, it takes us to a battle between good and evil in a mysterious magical world set somewhere in the wilds of England. The story begins with Hawk (John Terry) stealing the girlfriend of his megalomaniac brother, Voltan (Jack Palance), and the ensuing fight which sees Hawk being wounded, the girl dead and Voltan with half of his face burnt away. Voltan’s pain is only placated by the help of a dark evil creature living in a fiery cave but, in order to pay for the temporary healing, he must follow the path of darkness forever.

HawkTheSlayerBluRay

Voltan mortally wounds his own father in an argument. Later, Hawk arrives but before the father dies he gives him a mind-controlled magic sword, invincible in battle and able to defeat all enemies. This enables Hawk to go on a quest to get revenge and in doing so he picks up several followers, oddballs and quirky characters but all with special abilities. Look out for Bernard Bresslaw as the giant, Peter O’Farrell as the dwarf and William Morgan Sheppard as Ranulf, the man with the magic crossbow. There is also Ray Charleston, an elf with a magic bow and arrow. In fact, you will see lots of well-known British actors famous at the time. They were common faces in movies and on TV but most are now deceased.

The action commences when an Abbess at a convent is kidnapped by Voltan and ransomed for a large sum of money which nobody can really pay. Ranulf is badly wounded in the process, but he escapes to enlist Hawk’s assistance and gathering up the rest of the crew, they go forward to attack the large army and its evil leader. In a movie which goes on for a couple of hours, a couple of battles are fought but, in between, there are plenty of lighter moments, lots of individual action scenes and several scary bits chucked in for good measure, making it a fairly enjoyable experience.

John Terry’s portrayal of Hawk is glaringly wooden. If you watch the movie you will see what I mean. There’s also excruciating music played during action scenes. Apart from the fact that it’s a bit overlong, the movie is otherwise acceptable if you remember that it was made 35 years ago. As you would expect, good usually wins over evil and in this case it’s no different. That’s actually not giving away the plot because such an outcome is obvious from the start.

The benefit of Blu-ray to the movie is obvious. It’s quite sharp and clear and doesn’t appear its age. Apart from that, the extras amount to several bits and pieces, including cast interviews done at time of shooting, theatrical trailers, behind-the-scenes stuff, and image gallery. There is also a PDF on the disc with the entire script, useful for movie buffs. Otherwise, there’s nothing really outstanding, no commentaries and no additional movies. The main benefit is the much improved clarity of picture and sound.

Jack Palance, by this time, was getting on a bit but he still gives a commanding performance. This comes as no surprise because, after all, he was a veteran of a long list of movies. Having watched this movie when it first came out, it was a surprise to see that it is still entertaining and relevant, even in this decade of marvellous computerised special effects. You will not see many of these here but that doesn’t really matter. As said, it does go on a bit long but it will take up a couple of hours on a rainy night when there is not much else on TV to watch. For that reason, it can be recommended.

Rod MacDonald

July 2015

(Region B: pub: Network. 1 blu-ray disc 93 minute film with extras. Price: £ 9.18 (UK). ASIN: B00XEGTVYS)

cast: John Terry, Jack Palance, Bernard Breslaw, Peter O’Farrell, Ray Charleston and William Morgan Sheppard

check out website: www.networkonair.com

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Category: Fantasy, Films

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