Blade Master (Ator l'invincibile 2) (1984)
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In the second instalment of the Italian sword and sorcery series, Ato now must save the world from a doomsday device being activated with the help of his useless sidekicks. It was incredibly cringe worthy and cheap.
Blade Master is cheaply made, poorly acted, absurdly written, and lousily directed. Trying to make a quick buck from the Conan hype brought about by Arnold Shwarzaneger, Blade Masters only redeeming quality is the decent use of costumes (though make-up went ahead and ruined the visual aspect of the film).
The Blade Master, alternatively titled Cave Dwellers, is a pathetic Conan the Barbarian rip-off that was made in Italy and dubbed into English. It was made on a very low budget by people who knew virtually nothing about acting or directing, but that still doesn't explain how things went so horribly wrong. I suspect the writer(s) may have been smoking something.
The titular hero is the beefy, Ator, who we first see in the opening credits, sneaking through some caves alongside a black man who is never seen in the actual movie. It's hard to tell what is actually going on because there's no sound, the footage is extremely choppy, and the lower half of the screen is blacked out so we can read the credits. Our first proper introduction comes in an extended flashback in which some philosopher/monk/king tells his daughter Leila Ator's life story so far, which I suspect occupied an entire previous film. No sooner is this father/daughter story time finished then the castle is attacked by a horde of barbarian horsemen, and Leila flees to call Ator for help. She finds him of course, along with his sidekick, the unfortunately named Thong. Then it's up to the three of them to save Leila's father, and the kingdom, from the bad guy.
This movie's biggest problem, aside from the lack of any money or talent, is that it never quite gets its act together. It never establishes the time and place. I can't tell whether all this is happening in prehistory or in the middle ages. I'm also not sure if this is supposed to be Earth or if it's some mythical realm. I don't think they ever refer to the kingdom by name.
Nor is it very clear on distances or time elapsed. For instance, Leila's father tells her that Ator's home is 'at the ends of the Earth.' Yet after escaping the castle, she arrives at Ator's cave in the very next scene- with the arrow she was shot with during her escape still embedded in her chest! This would lead one to believe that the ends of the Earth weren't so far after all. But then they spend the rest of the movie returning to the castle. I don't know how that works, and I suspect that neither do the writers.
Anyway, while the heroes are having their adventures, the bad guy is holding Leila's father prisoner. He doesn't kill the old man because he wants to discover the secrets of a powerful weapon known as - I'm not making this up- the geometric nucleus. But his method of interrogating the old man is rather strange. Rather than torturing the knowledge out of him, the evil warlord engages him in long, boring conversations. I very much doubt that any real people have ever spoken the way these two do. The bad guy sounds like a Republic serial villain, and Leila's father sounds at various times like a fortune cookie, a teenage socialist, and an educational video on the importance of the modern justice system.
Not that the other characters have dialogue that's much better. Ator is established early on as having been the old guy's most brilliant student, a master of magic, science, and natural philosophy. Yet when he opens his mouth he talks like a first year English-as-a-second-language student, which he may actually be. At one point he gives a less than rousing speech laying out the blindingly obvious strategy for an upcoming battle, and then the battle never takes place! Did they mean to film the battle and then run out of money, or was the speech intended as a red herring? I don't know, and I'm not sure it really matters.
Now I've put this off as long as I can, but there are two scenes in this movie that leave me asking "What the hell were they thinking?" The first comes when the heroes storm the castle. Ator tells Leila and Thong to take a secret passage into the fortress while he prepares a distraction. "He's up to something" remarks Leila. Boy is he ever. Cut to Ator jumping from a cliff- aboard a hang glider made from ropes and skins. WTF!?! He actually flies- and drops bombs! - from a hang glider. At this point they might as well bring in the Great Gazoo atop his flying saucer.
But as unbelievable as the hang-gliding scene is, this next one takes the cake. At the end, as Ator rides off into the sunset, the movie cuts to footage of an atomic bomb test, while a voice over guy intones that modern man would do well not to unleash world destroying powers, etc. Once again, WTF!?! They actually put a clear anti-nuclear warning into a sword-and-sandal B-movie! One might as reasonably slip a message about overpopulation or credit card debt into a pirate movie. I don't know what they were on when they decided to make The Blade Master an issue movie, but I'm guessing it was something pretty strong.
Now let me think, is there anything else I should mention before wrapping up this review? Oh yeah, there's a scene where the good guys nearly get sacrificed to a giant snake. It's a bit hard to tell because it was so dark, but I think the snake-god was a massive plush toy. And I'm fairly sure that the princess's chest plate was a hubcap. When the leading lady is given a hubcap to wear, it's safe to say you're watching a true no-expense-taken enterprise.
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