(A.k.a. KILIC ASLAN; LION MAN)
Solomon is the King of the land, his peaceful regime just destined to be overturned sometime soon by a rebellious element. Sure enough, that opposition arrives swiftly in the form of Antuan (Yildirim Gencer), his terrorist army and a conniving would-be princess (Aynur Aydan).
The King stands to fight but ushers away his young princess bride Almunia to safety. As the battling continues in spectacular style, she embarks into the forestry in a bid to save her young son. Alas, she's killed shortly afterwards. Fortunately her new son is raised by a pride of lions - yes, you read that right - and grows into the formidably strong Sah (Cuneyt Arkin).
Sah has but one thing on his mind: avenging his father's murder. Because, you know, he's somehow aware of what happened in his infancy and subsequent upbringing by animals in the wild. Equipped with claws for hands (don't ask), he sets about returning to his father's former kingdom and restoring peace by wiping out Antuan's brutal regime. But he'll have to fight off the latter's armies first ...
Does that sound ridiculous? If not, I haven't done a proper job. Because THE SWORD AND THE CLAW - arguably best-known to English-speaking audiences as LION MAN - is utterly fucking preposterous. In the most entertaining way.
THE SWORD AND THE CLAW is Turkish cinema at its most lively. And if you fondly remember the titles released on DVD a few years back by the sadly defunct Onar Films, you'll have a fair idea of what to expect. No-budget cinema, shot on film, with some of the most outrageous acting, fashions, dialogue and combat scenes known to man.
Atrocious dubbing, relentless pacing, ugly cinematography and editing, banal dialogue, crazy choreography, a complete absence of logic ... this is what the initiated are in for. And if you're in the right frame of mind, you will absolutely ADORE it.
Every stupid grunt and facial expression from Arkin is amiably bad. This is Z-grade cinema of the most appealing order. It's tough to say much more: the technical merits cannot be assessed as they normally would, because it's their lack of proficiency which make something like THE SWORD AND THE CLAW so endlessly enjoyable.
THE SWORD AND THE CLAW makes its worldwide premiere on blu-ray thanks to the combined efforts of MVD Visual Entertainment and the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA).
The film's 1.78:1 presentation is accurate and fully uncut at 87 minutes and 38 seconds in length. It boasts of being a new 4K scan from the "only 35mm theatrical print in existence". Which is an early warning not to expect miracles. Indeed, there is a lot of wear and tear in evidence here - most notably during the film's opening moments. It does settle somewhat once we're a couple of minutes in, but it's only fair to forewarn prospective viewers not to anticipate a pristine, sharp playback here. Scratches, pops, print damage, hairs, discolouration ... prepare yourself for an authentic, grindhouse-style worn print, and you won't be far off. Having said that, colours are surprisingly vivid for the most part and there's an undeniable deep, filmic quality to be felt throughout. The 1080p transfer is housed on this disc as an MPEG4-AVC file.
English dubbed audio is presented in a reliable, frills-free DTS-HD Master Audio mix.
MVD Visual's region-free blu-ray disc opens to a lively animated main menu page.
The scene selection menu is playfully entitled "Choose a Weapon", allowing access to the film via 6 chapters.
"Claw-abiding" extras begin with a bonus movie in the form of 1981's BRAWL BUSTERS. This is actually a Chinese outing, originally entitled SA-DAE-TONG-IUE-MOON if the sole IMDb entry for this title is to be believed. It comes replete with some of the most enjoyably horrendous English dubbing I've seen in aeons. What makes the dub-track even better/worse is the fact that the voiceovers have an unnatural echoey effect to them, often making them sound like they were recorded in someone's toilet.
The plot, if that's the right word, seems to centre on a young woman seek to claim for revenge for her father's murder. But this is essentially one ludicrously-staged fight scene after another, usually accompanied with hilariously macho dialogue and plentiful supernatural leaps during warfare. It makes no sense whatsoever and is rather mechanically shot. Still, it's entertaining hokum.
The 2.35:1 picture is presented in 1080p, a fresh2K scan having been struck from an original theatrical print. An incredibly worn, scratch-filled print at that. Still, colours are bold and images are always clear enough to enjoy the madness. English audio is, well, echoey ...
We also get a 10-minute preview reel which includes trailers for ARGOMAN: THE FANTASTIC SUPERMAN, SUPERARGO AND THE FACELESS GIANTS, THE THREE SUPERMEN, THE 3 SUPERMEN IN THE WEST and THE SUPERGIRL OF KUNG FU.
This set also comes with handsome double-sided clover artwork.
A wonderful double-bill of so-bad-they're-good movies in (amazingly) HD.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by American Genre Film Archive|