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The Sword And The Sorcerer – Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

One of the biggest gaps in cult movie collecting over the years, and especially in the realm of 1980s sword and sorcery schlock is the aptly titled 1982 film The Sword and the Sorcerer. That’s getting taken care of now by none other than the folks over at Shout! Factory. And care indeed. In time for its 40th anniversary, the film is not only getting a Blu-ray release, but a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray one to boot! Piling on is a load of brand new interviews from those like Albert Pyun, Kathleen Beller and many others. Its a heck of a release for those who have been hungering for this pre-Conan fantasy flick to have an updated release. You’ll be able to land it on March 15th. You can do so by going to Shout! Factory’s store on their website or by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows this very review.

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Film

Meet Talon, a daring mercenary who conquers castles and dungeons alike with his lethal three-bladed sword. But when Talon learns that he is the prince of a kingdom controlled by an evil sorcerer, he is thrust into the wildest fight of his life. Can Talon rescue the beautiful princess and slay the warlock, or will he fall prey to the black magic of medieval mayhem? Lee Horsley (Matt Houston, The Hateful Eight), Kathleen Beller (Dynasty), Simon MacCorkindale (Jaws 3-D) and Richard Moll (House) star in this action-packed adventure saga, filled with brutal battles, plucky maidens, savage monsters and more!

Here’s a fun trivia bit. What fantasy film lasted much longer in the box office top 10 and grossed pretty much the same amount as Conan the Barbarian in 1982? Yes, its The Sword and the Sorcerer. Conan came and went in 1982 while spring holdover The Sword and the Sorcerer was continuing to bank the money in. It lasted from April til the very end of June in the top 10. Conan opened the 2nd week of May and was gone by mid-June. Yet, one of them left a big cultural footprint where the other didn’t. But, it must be said that The Sword and the Sorcerer was first and just not successful if not having a bit more popularity in terms of box office stamina than Conan the Barbarian.

What is there to remember from this film that has become, of course, a cult classic in its time since being a forgotten hit? It has to be the wild sword of which the title mentions. This is a three pronged affair that can also blast and fire at them like an arrow (Wonder if The Legend of Zelda felt inspired by it). While it sounds cool, the execution it a bit awkward and clunky. And I know this is fantasy and an imaginative effort, but the more you think about it, the sillier and more headscratching it gets.

In terms of the schlock fantasy goods, this one definitely delivers. While not of the quality in production of that of Conan or The Beastmaster that year, it sure has some pretty cool horror-like effects. There’s the faces wall, some kills and blood that’ll satisfy those sort of cravings. Also, the shameless nudity and brothel-like place which are a staple of these, appears here and maybe inspired later films like that of the Deathstalker films.

I was hoping to like this film more, but its just kind of all right. It delivers some of the low end goods and has some hallmarks of stuff you enjoy in Albert Pyun films. The cast is a bit forgettable sans Richards Lynch and Moll. But I still get the appeal and was excited to check it out for the first time in this new restoration.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail The Sword and the Sorcerer makes its debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray (and standard, for that matter) with a brand new 4K scan from the original negative. The film features a lot of softer photography that reminds me of Lucio Fulci’s Conquest a bit. However, this keeps intact a good grain structure that allows it to showcase some terrific depth and detail. Colors are pretty decently saturated and overall this is a really good image with a film whose source and production aesthetic looks like a challenge to transfer.

Depth: Depth of field is rather strong as the image feels like a free arena of characters and objects moving around with some solid pushback on display for the backdrop. Motion is smooth and filmic with no issues regarding any distortions coming from action scenes with rapid movements.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and somewhat consuming. Grain weighs heavier in the shadows and darker corners of the images. Luckily not a lot of information feels absorbed or taken away by it. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors come through pretty strong and well saturated through this softer transfer. Reds really pop and some of the magical effects have a nice glow to go them. Red filtering does come across very strong and consuming. Overall, this has a good pop to it that I imagine it didn’t before.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Your best looks at facial features and textures come from the more medium and close up shots as you take in make-up, dirt, freckles, stubble, scuffs, scrapes and more.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 DTS HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Before the film starts, there is a disclaimer regarding the audio sources for the film and their poor quality. Of course, Shout! Factory has done what they can to restore the 2.0 best they could but its still pretty supbar. Its also noted that the 5.1 track comes from a previous release and has its fair share of issues, included speaker miscues. They recommend the 2.0 track for listening and since its their work done and they are the ones putting this out, that is the track that I’ve reviewed.

And yes, the audio on this is buried in some heavier analog hiss and has obviously seen better days. Going beyond the charm or feeling “of its era” like films of the 30s and 40s do on Blu-ray, The Sword and the Sorcerer makes you have to sort of give a concession to it right off the bat. However, the film is easily watchable and you’ll be fine once you sink in and are strapped in for the ride. There are some peaks and whatnot, but overall it does come across pretty loud and effective when it wants to be with the score, sound effects and Richard Moll’s voice being more commanding than you’d expect in this mix from aged/damaged sources.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: As mentioned above, the audio is blanketed with analog distortion, but the vocals, while a little low and soft, can still be made out with easy and never too far gone to hamper enjoyment. Its just not as rich and crisp as one would hope in a lossless presentation.

Extras

The Sword and the Sorcerer – Collector’s Edition is  2-Disc set that comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and reversible cover art featuring and alternate poster design. Aside from the commentary track, all bonus materials are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • with director Alber Pyun

Tales of the Ancient Empire With Director Albert Pyun (HD, 33:06) – With the fantasy doors open from the release of Star Wars, following Excalibur and knowing Conan was coming, Pyun talks of how he got this film sold to a producer with a good pitch and storyboards. He talks casting the film (Bringing in Lorenzo Llamas to audition and originally casting David Hasselhoff), the challenges of the production, the big nude girls scene and a lot more. Its a pretty nice unfiltered recollection of his early film.

A Princess’ Tale with Kathleen Beller (HD, 24:08) – “It was a workman-like time for me”. She talks about wanting to work and taking whatever was offered and thinking this movie looked fun and excited she didn’t have to cry in her part for it. Beller mentions thinking the script was going to come off more tongue in cheek. This is a pretty lengthy, detail account of her experience and stories of the people she worked with on it.

Mightier Than The Sword with Co-Writer/Co-Producer John Stuckmeyer (HD, 19:51) – Stuckmeyer came into this having worked for Sid and Marty Kroft in television and meeting Pyun who was an editor at the time and had worked for Kurosawa. He gives his side of the story on hearing the pitch and agreeing to go forward with it. One of the cool things he touches on is how everyone was broke and normal with their lives and how Pyun’s wife supported him. He claims too much bad blood over the money conflict on this movie kept them from doing the sequel.

Master of the Blade with Editor Marshall Harvey (HD, 13:53) – “Disco Fever” was the first film he edited and wound up making a connection to Brandon Chase who called upon him to edit trailers (Including Alligator). He goes over many of the same talking points the others have, but giving his thoughts and perspective from his angle. Using temp music, he inspired the direction to take the score for the film in the finished product.

The Specialist and the Effects with F/X Artist Allan Apone (HD, 12:10) – His company was referred by the production designer. They worked on a lot of the insert shot effects in the film (“the filler stuff”). Apone details some of the highlight areas with which his team contributed to the film

Dedicated to Jack Tyree, Stuntman (HD, 11:50) – The people interviewed for this Blu-ray recall the horrific event of Jack Tyree’s death on the set of the film and also reflect on his life and work.

Brothers In Arms with F/X Artists the Chiodo Brothers, Edward, Stephen and Charles (HD, 10:23) – They discuss getting the job on proposing the wall of heads with a scale model. They then go into detail how they pulled it off and how this job launched them into their career path through connection made on this movie.

Trailers From Hell: Editor Marshall Harvey on The Sword and the Sorcerer (HD, 3:30) – In addition to editing the film, Harvey also cut the trailer.

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 6:25) 

TV Spot (HD, :26)

Still Gallery (HD, 9:02)

Summary

The Sword and the Sorcerer is as good, if not a better than most of its contemporaries that would follow. Shout! Factory has loving brought this to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray the best it probably could. Its look quite good and get through with the audio that it does pretty well. The extras are quite fun and loaded. Those waiting and waiting on this film certainly have a disc and release that has been worth the many years its taken to get this out.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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