"I take orders from the Octoboss."

The 13th Warrior

tn_13thwarriorex3-banderasTHE 13TH WARRIOR sounds like a pretty badass thing to be, but let’s be clear: Ahmed ibn Fadlan (Antonio Banderas) is number thirteen out of thirteen. In other words, the last guy to be picked.

Well, I guess it’s not exactly a nerd-in-gym-class scenario, they do want him. He’s drafted against his wishes. But not like he’s some John McClane type reluctant hero. He doesn’t want to go because he’s unqualified. He’s not a warrior, he’s an Arab poet who got too flirty with some caliph’s girl or something so they made him an ambassador and sent him packing, the poet equivalent of the alternate ending of TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. where he gets transferred to Alaska. Ahmad ends up hanging out with these “Northmen,” or vikings. Their king has just died and gone to Valhalla to kick it V.I.P. (vikings in paradise) style, but Ahmed is taken in by the heir apparent Buliwyf (Vladimir Kulich), shown some of their ways and pushed into service with this dirty baker’s dozen on a mission to protect a village that’s been attacked by monsters that come from the fog, ravage villages and tear off people’s heads. And they take the heads with them when they leave. Choppers keepers.

Well, like the monsters in The Rock’s version of HERCULES that’s just the superstitious interpretation of the events. When we see them they’re hidden in shadow but it’s immediately obvious that they’re not beast men, they’re just dudes wearing bear skins. And we can guess that they probly don’t really ride in on a giant glow worm or fire dragon like the rumors have it.

But they’re definitely a threat. Savage bastards. There are a high number of prop body parts, especially for a studio movie. To give you an idea, DUDLEY DO-RIGHT starring Brendan Fraser came out on the same day and could not have much more than half or 2/3 as many.

mp_13thwarriorThe way it deals with the language barrier is interesting to me. “Little Brother,” as the Northmen call Ahmed, speaks English, which I think we should assume represents him speaking some form of Arabic. When nobody understands what he’s saying he gets Omar Sharif (yeah, he’s in this briefly as his translator) to speak to them in Greek. It starts to get tedious that every single thing has to be said in Greek and then translated for Ahmed. But once he’s sent on the mission with them they just speak their native language and we don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s a montage of the warriors telling stories and laughing at the campfire and Little Brother watching their mouths closely until suddenly they’re speaking English. You know, as a metaphor for him starting to understand their language and then speak to them in it.

It’s clever, but it’s kinda funny because they’re going so out of their way to acknowledge that everybody speaks different languages, as if realism is important to them. But the idea that he can learn a language just by listening to some guys shoot the shit one night is so ridiculous that it takes you out of the movie more than if they just had everybody speak English from the beginning and assumed you would be okay with it. Or if they had them speaking their real languages and just subtitled it. But this was before PASSION OF THE CHRIST made that semi-acceptable again.

Yeah, I know it’s weird that Banderas, a Spaniard, is playing an Arab. But at least it is a positive portrayal of Arab culture, showing them as the advanced civilization fascinated by these backwards others. In fact, this type of story would usually have an uptight British guy learning about the other culture. Oh shit, in fact this is like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, except it’s AHMED OF VOLGA.

There’s actually less of him sharing his culture with them than you would expect, but he doesn’t go LAST SAMURAI and try to become one of them. He holds onto his ways and they make fun of him for it but soon learn that he knows things they don’t. For example they make fun of his Arabian horse for being smaller than what they’re used to. They call it a dog. But then they see that the horse can jump over fences and shit. Their big ass horses couldn’t jump over a croquet wicket. Viking horses are bullshit.

They give him a sword and he complains about it, says it’s too heavy for him to lift. And it’s true, when he tries to swing it he falls over. Seems like a total sissy. But then we find out it’s not his non-warrior background – it’s a culture difference. He gets the idea to borrow the blacksmith’s equipment and refashion the sword into a scimitar. And they make fun of that too (“If you die can I give that to me daughter?”) but they can tell he knows how to handle it. I think it’s a respectful ribbing.

It’s got this weird thing that it’s kinda the story of Beowulf, but not exactly. You notice there’s a guy whose name is similar to Beowulf, and the bad guys “the Wendol” are kinda like multiple Grendels, and there’s a reference to the dragon and stuff. At the end it’s mentioned that Buliwyf could be a legend if someone would put his story in writing, and Ahmed starts working on composing a poem about him, so you can assume this movie is supposed to be the story of the author of Beowulf – that would be Roger Avary I believe – and how it was actually Inspired By Actual Events. But they never actually come out and say that he writes the poem or that it spreads the legend or anything. But I kinda like that. I think this premise is a little ahead of its time, ’cause now a decade and a half later we have “the real story” of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and Hercules and etc.

I like the gore and the overall “Okay fine, I’ll go on an adventure with you” feel. Ahmed does alot of figuring out stuff for the team, and they do alot of the barbarian shit: building spiked walls, killing the biggest guy from the village before anybody gets ideas about fucking with them, etc. But like alot of these big sword battle movies there’s more chaos than choreography in the action. And the story feels slightly out of whack – in the end I wasn’t sure what was added by having it be Ahmed’s point-of-view instead of just a story about some badass vikings and one of them happens to be this Arab poet little brother guy. He might’ve been more impressive as a supporting character than as a clumsy protagonist who watches the other guys do most of the heroism but then appears alone on the poster.

So it kinda made sense when I read the history of the thing. I knew it had first been advertised as EATERS OF THE DEAD, same as the Michael Crichton source novel. I did not know that Crichton, in his capacity as producer, had pulled a PAYBACK on it. The studio got cold feet after poor test screenings, decided it need to be re-edited. According to this article from Yahoo Movies UK, McTiernan quit after hearing the studio demands. Crichton (who had actually directed the same number of movies as McT at that point) took over as director to do reshoots, re-edited the entire thing and even ditched the score by Graeme Revell and replaced it with a Jerry Goldsmith.

In the movie they have to kill “the Mother of the Wendol” to defeat these eaters of the dead. In McT’s version apparently it was a real old lady, which is both weirder and more logical than the younger lady that Crichton replaced her with because he was worried that people didn’t like seeing something unusual like an old lady getting killed by the good guys.

Later the Yahoo article seems to contradict the idea of Crichton taking over only after McT quit. It seems crazy, but Vladimir Kulich, the guy that played Buliwyf, says he was shooting for both of their versions at the same time:

“I was doing one ending with McTiernan and another ending with Crichton. We shot it on the same lot at Warner Bros. I would go from one studio set to the other studio set, and one guy would say, ‘Don’t tell the other guy what you’re doing here.’ It was a little bit tragic, because Crichton said to me: ‘It doesn’t matter what you do over there. Because I have final cut.’ Here I am getting my big break, and these guys are acting like children.”

Things that I’ve read were lost from EATERS OF THE DEAD include more than just a narrated montage of Ahmed in his natural setting, a longer journey to the caves and a delineation of the fighting specialties of each of the warriors. This sounds like the sorts of things that would make the story flow better. That said, it doesn’t feel like a total mess, it’s surprisingly together for a movie with such a traumatic birth. And it’s possible that the other version really wasn’t working and needed to be salvaged.

On the other hand, imagine if Stephen King had been able to pull that “I have final cut” shit on THE SHINING. Sometimes the author is the worst person to ask about the adaptation. Though I reserve the right to be politely opinionated when my books get turned into movies.

THE 13TH WARRIOR might not always be right in the groove, but there definitely are times when it is. One scene I loved is the one where they’ve been investigating the bloody scene of an attack, and they’re outside discussing their next step. Ahmed sees something and says, “Gentlemen. Gentlemen!” Getting their attention. They all go into emergency mode as they look where he’s looking. It’s way off in the distance, tiny, we can’t even make out what he sees at first, but it’s a small child, crying, covered in blood, running away from some horrible incident further up the road. Creepy, and so cinematic. Good job, McT. Not enough movies look off into the distance, they stay right in people’s faces.

Another good use of a non-closeup is when he’s having trouble chopping wood and starts asking where there’s a metal worker. When one is pointed out he runs over to him, but the camera stays where it is, watching him, not able to hear him from over here. It’s like the camera is curious. What the fuck is he doing over there?

This is not the full-blooded viking masterpiece we’d hope for from McT, it’s not the helmet and ax equivalent of a DIE HARD or a PREDATOR. But it’s pretty good, certainly didn’t deserve to be ignored like it was. They had so little faith they didn’t even give it a premiere, and of course it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s apparently the biggest flop ever if you adjust for inflation.

Luckily McTiernan had already moved on to THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR, which actually came out earlier in the same August that 13TH WARRIOR did. But I can’t help but figure the failure of the warrior movie hurt his career. The only things he’s done since then were ROLLERBALL and BASIC.

Banderas isn’t truly what I consider an action star, but this on top of his two MARIACHIs and two ZORROs and one ASSASSINS… plus he’s in HAYWIRE, though in a non-action capacity. Anyway, I can see why they made him an Expendable. Not a bad resume there.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 25th, 2014 at 12:20 pm and is filed under Action, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

44 Responses to “The 13th Warrior”

  1. The main thing I remember about this is McTiernan reusing his zoom in on mouths and zoom out for everyone to be speaking another language trick from HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, which I always thought was one of the cooler little devices a director’s ever come up with. This was also an early post-action pioneer, as I remember a friend of mine complaining when it came out about not being able to understand the fight scenes. Notice you don’t bust out the ACRs too much anymore Vern, do you think of it as a gimmick you don’t want to lean on too much?

    I found out that flop trivia just the other day, when I was looking at wikipedia after watching PLUTO NASH. That was a baffling film.

  2. I swear in the book the Wendol are actually portrayed as basically the missing link. Australopithecus type hairy ape men who eat their victims and the Mother of the Wen was some kind of monster, but I do know they have foot notes in the book stating that the author describes things more fantastically than they actually were (eg: “sea monsters” were likely whales), so maybe for the movie they wanted it to show the real deal. I do recall being pretty disappointed when the Wendol weren’t more monstrous when I say this in the theatre.

  3. The fact that this is from Ahmed’s point of view is an interesting artifact from the book, I think; for a movie, where 90% of the cultural stuff is going to be unexplained anyway, the there’s not a lot of reason not to just have it be some vikings going to town. But as a novel, having the main character not be a part of the culture and figuring it out as he goes along gives Crichton (as the author, not Crichton as the director) a lot of opportunity to explain the background and context of everything that’s happening.

  4. I’ve always loved this film. I agree Vern that it didn’t really need Banderas as the main protagonist though. I think the montage where he’s learning their language was meant to be over a number of days, if not weeks – that’s what I like to believe, anyway (maybe if they’d broken it up with some shots of them riding during the daytime). I loved the fact that the shield challenge with the red-headed warrior isn’t explained – you’re just left to figure out the rules. Best of all is the rabble-rousing speech that Buliwyf gives at the end, with each surviving member joining in, taking to the street, as the wendol charge in for the final battle. It is and shall ever be one of my favourite cinematic moments.

  5. The fact that this was a bomb but still a pretty enjoyable movie is probably why it never shows up on clickbait lists of big movie bombs like CUTTHROAT ISLAND or THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, but it still deserves better.

    Maybe I’m not remembering things right but I always got the impression that the scene where Ahmed learns the language was a montage set during a journey where he picked up Vikingese over the course of a few weeks, which is slightly more plausible. I could be wrong though.

  6. My main memory of this is really enjoying it, but feeling like it was still somehow kind of a letdown. I think they may set themselves up to disappoint by building up the Wendol as mythically as they do, and then just have them turn out to be sort of mundane assholes. I think I’d have preferred the myth to the “real story.” But it’s a fun, unique movie nonetheless. Having attempted to watch the dire PATHFINDER recently (which has sort of a similar clash-of-the-cultures bent), it really makes you appreciate how competent and entertaining this one is.

    I dunno. It definitely feels like there’s greatness here, it’s hard not to wonder if McT’s cut would have brought that out. Maybe someday he’ll get a chance to Richard Donner this one. But if they have the footage, even an extended edition with a little more characterization might take it halfway there.

    I mean “a delineation of the fighting specialties of each of the warriors” — what madman would cut a scene like that?!

  7. I’ve always liked this one, it does a good job of capturing the Robert E. Howard historical fiction style of story, with violence, action, brotherhood and honor, outnumbered badass heroes, all that good stuff.

    Like others have mentioned, I think his learning their language is meant to take place over weeks of sitting around shooting the shit, not just one night.

  8. It’s been a while (I was one of the four or five people across America who saw this film in theaters), but I remember really enjoying The 13th Warrior. If I’m remembering correctly, there’s a certain lightness to the film. It has a breezy pace and a bit of a sense of humor. I remember really enjoying the way that Banderas slowly becomes accepted by the Vikings. Ultimately, there’s just something fun and optimistic about that. I read a lot of Crichton in Middle School and High School, and I remember this being one of his better books (along with the Great Train Robbery). The movie might be even more fun, though.

  9. The fact that he’s an spaniard playing’ an arab makes a lot of sense, because arabs were in control of that country for like 8 centuries, so they’re alike, at least physically. The fact that he learns the language made sense to me, because the movie tells you this guy is some kind of linguist. I think it was the movie’s way of shwoing the guy was not a compelte schlub, and could actually be capable.

  10. Really enjoyed this but I had read Eaters of the Dead and mainly got off on the true-story-that-inspired-the-legend concept. As you say Vern, ahead of its time and now there are others to choose from but this may have been the first of its kind for me (book or film) and so I totally fell for the gimmick. If you’ve never read the book or missed the Beowulf connection then I’m guessing it’s not nearly as enjoyable.

    The simplicity of the conceits are what I really liked. It’s serious and uncomplicated. Ahmed has to be an Arab because the Northmen had an oral tradition etc… so the only way it could have been written down during that time was if he ventured north and so on. Who cares if it was really true or makes any sense, the truthiness of the effort really sells it across the board.

    I’ll have to watch it again to see how I feel about it now but I definitely remember total commitment to the script and there are many memorable but (unintentionally?) campy lines.

    To this day when I say goodbye to my brother in law I do it by wistfully saying “Farewell, Northman.”

    Also classic – “….They….think…they…are…bears….!”

    And of course:

    “IS THERE A CAVE!?!?”

    Which functions well as a catchall answer if someone asks you if you want to go somewhere.

  11. Certainly spending almost a year in federal prison didn’t help McTiernan’s career any. Still, no one can take away his PREDATOR/DIE HARD/THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER trifecta, even if(as I recall) he did make disparaging comments about Craig R. Baxley’s second unit work on PREDATOR.

    The debacle around the making of this film reminds me of the THE EXORCIST prequel but on a way larger scale. I’d speculate McTiernan has washed his hands of this and his cut will never see the light of day, if it hasn’t been destroyed outright by Crichton. I will say as a standalone listening experience the Jerry Goldsmith score is much better than Graeme Revell’s.

  12. this was pretty much the end of Crichton adaptions too save for the one-last-spurt that was TIMELINE, isn’t it?

    also, ugh, I actually saw DUDLEY DO-RIGHT in theaters and I can’t remember why except every now and then my mom would take me to see an awful kids movie like that, MR MAGOO and INSPECTOR GADGET for reasons that are unfathomable to me now

  13. The viking link in this one is pretty thin. There are a dozen Scandinavian actors in it, but Dennis “Herger” Storhøi said in interviews that the dialect coach was from Lituania and didn’t speak either Norwegian, Swedish or Danish properly. And the mythology is so far out it could have been made anywhere. I guess this could have been Storhøi’s big moment – he’s really good here, and steals a few scenes – but an on set accident where he nearly drowned and was saved by Banderas ruined it for him.

    DUDLEY-DO-RIGHT, MR MAGOO, INSPECTOR GADGET, GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE etc, etc are excellent action comedies for 7-8 year olds.

  14. in fairness I don’t remember DUDLEY-DO-RIGHT being purely awful, just not worth going to the theater to see (I do remember enjoying GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE but I saw that on VHS)

    MR MAGOO though, that shit was rank

  15. Good film, this one. First DVD I ever bought, back in the day.
    I still think that it’s a better “adaptation” of THE HOBBIT than Peter Jackson’s films. It covers vast amounts of ground but isn’t a two hour forty-five monstrosity.

    As for that scene of “Ibn” learning the language, I always loved that. It’s pretty much the way John Carter learns Martian in the Burroughs books, whereas in the film, they gave him some sort of magical drink that enabled him to understand them. (Why would they have that, exactly? Nobody else ever comes to visit.)

    So yeah, it might seem a bit unrealistic, but at least he didn’t pick up Old Norse by eating an enchanted pølse or something like that.

  16. I remember seeing the trailer for Eaters of the Dead a while ago in theatre and it looked gritty and awesome. But then I went and see The 13th Warrior maybe 15-16 months later when it came out and it felt like a different movie. Not a disaster, just…different, tame and generic.

  17. grimgrinningchris

    August 26th, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I think George Of The Jungle and Dudley Do Right are both fine for what they are and pretty much perfect adaptations (definitely much more successful as such than the Rocky & Bullwinkle movie and far far better than shit like The Smurfs and Garfield movies).

  18. George Of The Jungle has one of my favourite stunt! (When he swings down the Golden Gate bridge. They really had a stuntman swinging down that bridge on a rope!) Also say what you want about the movie, but Brendan Fraser totally nails his performance in it!

  19. People say that about Brendan Fraser all the time. “Say what you will about how he’s in terrible movies where he plays annoying idiots who mug constantly and unfunnily, but he really commits to it! He gives these shitty movies the embarrassing performances they deserve! That’s a good thing for some reason!”

    I get where you;re coming from, I guess, but I’d rather not see a movie where giving that kind of performance is considered “nailing it.”

  20. I would never be that hard on Fraser. He has his own style, and it works in a lot of very different movies. There really aren’t that many actors we can say that about. And he’s in one of the great comedies of the 90’s; BLAST FROM THE PAST!

  21. It’s hard to hate the guy, but every time I hear he’s in a movie I might otherwise have seen, my first thought is “Oh, that’s too bad. That might have been good if it was a real movie.”

  22. I wouldn’t say Fraser is great or anything, but I’ve enjoyed a lot of his movies. I think I can’t hate him because I really liked (I can’t believe I’m admitting this and please don’t judge me too harshly) ENCINO MAN. It’s one of those great memories of being a teenager and going to the dollar movie with my friends. I had absolutely no interest in seeing the movie, or maybe it was that I didn’t know anything about it to say one way or the other, but it turned out to be one of those awesome movie experiences where you are completely surprised by the movie and end up thoroughly enjoying it. God, sometimes I really miss being a teenager and dollar movies.

  23. I dunno, Fraser has a certain charm, its just not a charm which is valuable to most movies. I think he brings exactly the right doofy, lighthearted earnestness to THE MUMMY, for example, and goes a long way towards helping that movie cultivate a tone which makes it to date the only Stephen Sommers movie suitable for human eyeballs.

    His best role, IMHO, is in Philip Noyce’s 2002 THE QUIET AMERICAN. It’s good because usually he seems too clueless and earnest for most dramatic hero roles, but in this movie those traits are exactly right for the character (in fact, the character itself is sort of a commentary on the effectiveness of the kind of hero Americans imagine themselves to be). He comes across as genuinely well-intentioned, capable, maybe even a little smarter than he initially seems. But perhaps not quite smart enough to quite understand what’s going on. A very good use of his particular set of talents.

    Man, how did the 13th WARRIOR comment section end up a discussion of Brendan Fraser’s career? Was he originally gonna be the 14th warrior but they cut him out in editing?

  24. Vern, if you don’t write VIKINGS IN PARADISE, then I will.

  25. Republican Cloth Coat

    August 27th, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Just wanting to point out that the account of an Arabs travels among the Norsemen is based upon that of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who witnessed the depicted funeral rituals. I have’nt seen the 13th Warrior, but the record probably exceeds the film in nastiness.


  26. Stupid question – what’s a dollar movie? Did you US of A guys and gals get cinema tickets for $1?

  27. This movie is always a strange experience for me. I like things about it, but so much of it trips my stupid Historical Arms Pedant trigger that I’m taken out of the movie and into my own lame critical headspace at least a couple times.

    I mean I really like the “I cannot lift this”/”Grow stronger” exchange but the back of my brain is going IT WOULDN’T BE THAT HEAVY YOU FFFF–

    I guess it’s not the filmmakers’ fault I’m insane.

  28. Darren, yes. A prototypical movie theater is a “first run” movie theater. The movie comes out, you pay your 10 bucks, and see the movie. But before home video blew up there were other movie theaters that were not first run; they were dollar shows. A film would play in a first run theater first and if you missed it, it would then go to a dollar theater somewhere else in the town. They are less modern and more run down. They attracted people who were unable to attend the movies when they were in the fancier theaters.

  29. The $1 theaters are still around in big cities. We have one here in Austin. (It’s actually $1.75, I think, but the principle is the same.)

  30. My town had a dollar theater attached to the mall. It wasn’t the fanciest, but it wasn’t so run down as to be scary or anything. Most of the time. Once, the guy sitting next to me showed me his vampire teeth, like in his mouth, teeth, and they weren’t those cheap plastic ones. They must have been attached to a retainer or something. This was before goth was a thing, so it’s not like those were easily accessible. He must’ve really had to do some work to get those. He told me not to worry, that he didn’t bite unless invited. I told him he wasn’t invited and then flagged down some friends from school and asked him to move down to make room for my friends. Not my proudest moment, but there was no way I was sitting next to him when the lights went out. He showed my friend his teeth as well. She put up with less bullshit than me and made threats to his manhood if he tried biting her.

  31. 13th Warrior is always a must watch anytime I see it on. I really like the pan out opening scene with the ever-laughing Vikings.

    I, too, wish a McT version existed, but I doubt there ever will.

  32. Wow, that’s unheard of here. The best deals we ever get are on Tight-Arse Tuesdays when tickets are (roughly)half price. Full price tickets are a fistful of dollars(about $20), a few dollars more for 3D, but on TAT we pay between $10-$13. Back in the day there were more independent cinemas who kept their prices down, but they wouldn’t screen new movies until a few weeks after the majors. I guess they would be the equivalent of your second run, or dollar theaters. Still, you can’t beat $1 for a movie ticket.

    Big city film culture has become a bit snobbish these days. A lot of high end cinemas want to sell us a cinema going experience – gold-class seating with wine and poncy finger food, 3D, other bullshit. Never mind that you’re paying $100 for a night at the movies to watch the latest Katherine Heigl rom-com with your date. Never mind that the movie dissolves from memory quicker than the half-eaten ice cream some arsehole left in the back row. I saw ROAD WARRIOR and CONAN THE BARBARIAN on a double bill in a tiny independent with wooden floors and thin vinyl seats and the experience has never left me. I never met any vampires though, so you got one up on me Maggie.

  33. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 29th, 2014 at 12:43 am

    “…which makes it to date the only Stephen Sommers movie suitable for human eyeballs.”

    As always, gotta bring up DEEP RISING. DEEP RISING! Anyone remember DEEP RISING?

  34. I remember DEEP RISING. Fuck THE MUMMY! DEEP RISING is where it’s at, when it comes to Stephen Sommers!

  35. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 29th, 2014 at 2:49 am

    My thoughts exactly! It’s a shame Sommers never rose to that level again, but at least he can die knowing he delivered at least one objectively cool pulpy action/monster movie hybrid thing. I guess that could describe THE MUMMY as well, but I’m talking about DEEP RISING. DEEP RISING!

  36. Yes, I love DEEP RISING, one of the best monster movies of the 90’s. Glad to see I’m not alone.

    I once heard that for THE 13TH WARRIOR McTiernan had plan to direct the picture after RED OCTOBER with Sean Connery and Rutger Hauer. I never did care too much for the actual finish film, most people didn’t, at least the handful that did see it.

  37. Yeah I enjoyed DR. It has Sommers trademark crappy CGI, yet it really suits this story. A giant sea monster terror-rising a luxury cruise liner. A great team of mercenaries consisting of Wes Studi and Djimon Honsou. And Treat Williams always adds a ton of value to any film he’s in. Also I remember liking Kevin J O’Connor and his nervous disposition, which played well off Williams.

  38. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 29th, 2014 at 4:36 am

    Yeah and there’s lots of these nice fucked up little moments, like the half-digested guy still being alive and Wes Studi’s final moments. All in all it’s a minor classic that proves Sommers had some quality in him at some point, he’s more like Shyamalan in that way than true hack directors like Ratner, Nispel, Liebesman or Leterrier.

  39. I would even have to say that DEEP RISING has the best effect work of every Sommers movie. Also you have to give him credit for somehow making the most watchable life action GI JOE movie so far. (Backhanded compliment, I know.)

  40. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 29th, 2014 at 5:41 am

    I’ve got a soft spot for the first GI Joe. Obviously it’s not a good film, but it has a sense of fun about it, it’s enjoyable even though it contains excessive amounts of CGI and Marlon Wayans. Compared to the dull, soulless piece of crap that was the second one it’s practically a masterpiece.

    I’m a little scared that this confession will devaluate my opinion on DEEP RISING. Probably should delete it

  41. Man, this review kinda bummed me out too. I fucking love this movie and watch it twice a year or so since it come out. The speaking scene was a real standout but they made it pretty clear its happening over the course of many weeks. Remember these guys are travelling from the fucking north east of the African continent, all the way back to the mediterranean and along to coast back to scandinavia. It could feasibly represent months if not weeks. They illustrate this pretty well with the numerous background changes.

    It wasn’t a perfect viking movie but it did a better job of defining characters so you knew more than say expendables 3. Not as good as predator, but perhaps on par with the also excellent King Arthur (with Owen). Also on par with the excellent Outlander. Not enough of these awesome movies out there to be too nitpicky.

  42. Like several others here, I’ve always liked this movie from first viewing on first run onwards, despite the signs of interference and the sense that a McT cut might well have been even better. We’ll never know, but for fans it’s worth importing (if you have the right kit) the French Blu-ray. It’s Region B but mostly English-friendly, came in a slipcase with a 40-page booklet & 8 collectible postcards (might just be the disc now), but most interesting of all are the extras on the disc:

    – an hour-long doc on the making of the film, interviewing McT, Banderas, Kulich, co-writer Warren Lewis, DoP Peter Menzies Jr. & art director Wolf Kroeger. The title of it translates as “In Search of Eaters of the Dead”!
    – quarter-hour featurette with Menzies & Kroeger on the the sets and shooting on them
    – trailer
    – Trivia track (in French only)
    – Archive content from the old French DVD – half-hour making of, original pre-film announcement and 8mins on Ibn Fadhlan
    – 17 mins interview with McT on his favourite films.

    Basically a must-have for hardcore fans of the film. The doc goes from McTiernan’s original pitch to adapt the book to Disney, right throught the process. McT’s footage is from 2003, but co-writer Lewis and others are from 2011, so it’s pretty recent. Definitely worth seeing for those wanting to know more about mcT’s cut and the way the film turned out.

  43. Has Vern ever reviewed DEEP RISING?

  44. On the french/german special edition bluray of the film John Mctiernan talks about the different cut of the film, He mentions the studio wanted a PG-13 so when he shot the film he had to be creative and not show too much gore or blood so the tone of the film was not as ‘adult’ as an R rated flick.
    After the test screening many people were pissed off, the film was called “Eaters of the Dead” but there wasn’t that much of that going on so the studio asked McT to shoot a few extra gore scenes to bump it up to an R rating. Now McT says that if he was allowed to shoot the film from the beginning with an R rating it would have been vastly different, the tone would have been much darker and the violence ramped up but again this is another time the studio fucked up.

    He says his version is not vastly different to the released version apart from the killing of the witch (his witch was older, fatter and uglier) and a few scenes here and there, roughly around 10 mins or so. Hopefully Shout/Scream Factory or the Criterion Collection (Not Michael Criterion) will release that version.

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