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Movie Reviews

Thirteenth Warrior  


Ahmed Ibn Fahdian                            (Antonio Banderas)
Herger                                                 (Dennis Storhoi)
Buliwhf                                                (Vladimir Kulich)
Olga                                                    (Maria Bonnevie) 

Directed by John McTiernan 

Written by William Wisher and Warren Lewis 

Rated R for graphic violence, bloody battle scenes, and carnage 

Running Time: 107 minutes            Distributed by Touchstone 


            The 13th Warrior is a graphic Viking epic that ends being a little farfetched but enjoyable.  Ahmed Ibn Fahdien (Banderas) is an emissary in Baghdad during the 10th century.  After being banished from the kingdom after lusting after a nobleman's wife, Ahmed encounters a group of Norsemen or Vikings.  The Vikings, who are led by Buliwhf (Kulich), select Ahmed to join 12 other warriors to travel north to defeat an evil enemy.  The enemy or "the eaters of the dead" are revealed shortly after the warriors arrive to their destination.  "The eaters of the dead" are ferocious cannibals that devour and kill anything in their path and travel through the fog.  Ahmed learns to overcome his fears and gain confidence in the other warriors.  Ahmed and the Vikings eventually bond together to try and explain and defeat "the eaters of the dead". 

            The 13th Warrior is an entertaining film, but minor problems and a weak ending hurt the film.  The ending tries to be very dramatic like other medieval films such as Rob Roy and Braveheart, but it doesn't work.  The climax is just there and it let's you down after all the nice buildup throughout the movie. 

            The next problem to be addressed is the romantic scenes between Ahmed and Olga (Bonnevie), who is a local woman of the village that "the eaters of the dead" destroy.  These scenes were brought into the film to tone down the testastorone level, but this doesn't work either.  The 13th Warrior is truly a film that is made for adult male audiences. 

            The script is pretty well adapted from Michael Crichton's 1976 novel, "Eaters of the Dead."  Crichton did not write the screenplay, but he did have authority over the film as its producer.  The script moves swiftly from beginning to end.  There are good characters in The 13th Warrior, mostly because of the performances by the actors, not the writing.  However, the character development is very soft. 

            The acting in The 13th Warrior is strong and focused.  Antonio Banderas does an excellent job as an ordinary man that changes because of the experiences of blood, fear, and battle.  All the other actors in the film are mostly French.  I have never seen or heard of any of the actors that play the fearless tough group of Vikings.  The cast does trigger a nice ensemble and really saves the script from the weak character development.  In addition, I really like the performance by Dennis Storhoi, who plays the cocky and noble Viking Herger.  Storhoi brought nice comedic relief and terrific tone to the film. 

            The 13th Warrior is a very bloody and violent film.  There are probably more than a dozen beheadings in the film.  I believe that director John McTiernan was aiming at showing how violent it was in the 10th century.  McTiernan does a truly effective and visionary job of direction.  His battle scenes are filmed so chaotically that the audience doesn't know who is fighting whom.  In relation, the scenes resemble what battles and war were like.  Some sequences and aspects in the film seemed duplicated from the outstanding direction created by Mel Gibson in Braveheart.  I don't think a veteran director like McTiernan, whose credits include Die Hard, Predator, and The Hunt for Red October, would copy someone's work.  However, some shots in The 13th Warrior did look very similar to Gibson's creative direction. 

            Overall, The 13th Warrior is a pretty good medieval film, which is a category of films that hardly exists anymore.  The film does get a little lost and has a few mistakes, but it is not that bad of a movie.

Report Card Grade: C+

 Beastman's Movie Reviews

Copyright, 1999 Joseph C.Tucker

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