The Sword of the Barbarians (1982)

Known in Italy as Sangraal, la spada di fuoco (Sangraal, the Sword of Fire), this is the first of two barbarian movies that Michele Massimo Tarantini made. For a director better known for his commedia sexy all’italiana films, this is pretty decent. By that, I mean that you have to have an affinity for Italian sword and sorcery. If you haven’t figured out that I do, well, now you do.

This also has the alternate name, Barbarian Master, which is a very metal movie name.

Sangraal (Pietro Torrisi, who started his career in peblum movies like The Ten Gladiators and ended it in sword and sorcery movies like Gunan, King of the Barbarians) is Sangraal, whose father’s kingdom has been decimated by the evil warlord Nantuk (Mario Novelli, Warriors of the Year 2072Amok TrainEyes Behind the Stars). He leads his people to a new land which is ruled by Belem (Luciano Rossi, whose career hits all of the Italian trends, from westerns like Django to the Eurospy Killer 77, Alive or Dead to giallo sich as Death Carries a Cane and Death Smiles at a Murderer and poliziotteschi, war films and exploitation in Salon Kitty).

Nantuk has become a king, yet the Goddess of Fire and Death* (Xiomara Rodriguez) demands more. Sangraal must die or Nantuk will lose everything. So he does what any madman usually does and crucifies our hero — hello, Conan the Barbarian — and forcing him to watch everyone in the village be killed**, including the Goddess personally murdering his wife. He’s saved by the archer Li Wo Twan (Haruhiko Yamanouchi, the only actor I know who has been in both Joe D’Amato and Wes Anderson movies) and Belem’s daughter Ati (Yvonne Fraschetti, Demons 2).

This movie actually has something to say about love, loss and grief, as a wizard tells Sangraal that he must give up on the memory of his dead wife and keep on living if he wants to defeat Nantuk, who is devoted to killing him. Then again, as you deal with these issues in your life, I doubt you will ever battle an evil king. That said, perhaps you’ll find something in this to help you.

You have to give it to the servants of Nantuk. When Sangraal challenges our antagonist to a duel to the death by the traditional rules — with no interference — they refuse to help, even when their leader demands they kill our hero. And then, they just let Ati go at the end.

This movie has taught me that goddesses can be killed, if you have a magic crystal crossbow.

Also — and perhaps most importantly — Sabrina Siani (who is pretty much the queen of these movies, thanks to appearances in The Throne of Fire, Ator the Fighting Eagle and, most importantly, her turn as Ocron in Conquest) is in this as the Goddess of Gold and Life.

This is why I watch movies, to be battered into happiness by Italian barbarians battling half-naked and fully naked evil beings.

You can get this from Revok.

*If you’re watching this and wonder, “Have I seen this village get destroyed before?” You’re right. It’s the exact same footage that is in The Throne of Fire.

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