Mondo Macabro // 1983 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 13th, 2006
Sex, savagery and mystical martial arts.
Thank you Mondo Macabro. Thank you.
Unearthed from the forgotten treasure trove that is '80s Indonesian action fantasy cinema comes The Devil's Sword, a tale of crocodile sex and mass decapitations. Indonesian action sensation Barry Prima plays Mandala, a renowned warrior and noble swordsman. He and his arch-nemesis Banu Jaga (sp?) both trained under a formidable fighting master, but opted to pursue different destinies: Mandala rides around on his horse defending the innocent and Jaga rides a flying rock and obeys the evil whims of the Crocodile Queen.
And who is the Crocodile Queen? A lady you would be wise to avoid. Overseeing nightly orgies and crocodile feedings, the Queen makes her home in a palatial underwater suite, populated by scantily-clad, slightly overweight hand-maidens and guarded by a fire-breathing croc statue. The Crocodile Queen has an insatiable libido and frequently sends her henchmen to the surface to retrieve new fellas.
Jaga is summoned to snatch a village prince, the latest stud, and proceeds to slaughter the village warriors who attempt to thwart his kidnapping attempt. Luckily, Mandala shows up in time, and he and Jaga go at it. Repelled, Jaga retreats. Unfortunately, the crocodile thugs manage to bring back the prince anyway, leaving Mandala to team up with the prince's despondent fiancée to rescue him.
So begins a grand and incoherent adventure, where Mandala seeks to fulfill his destiny and capture the fabled Devil's Sword, amputate his master's gangrenous left leg, and smite the many enemies that challenge him, including a witch that can't be killed, loads of dudes in rubber suits and, ultimately, Jaga and the Crocodile Queen.
What a fantastic movie. Fantastic in the "Holy-crap-this-insane" sense, sure, but fantastic nonetheless. Mondo Macabro is a studio I can count on for delivering a) weird @#$% I've never heard of but upon viewing found my life vastly improved and b) top-notch DVD presentations. The Devil's Sword fulfills both of those obligations.
This film is gory, hairy lunacy, crammed sideways with prolonged martial arts sequences and make-out sessions. I knew I was onto something special when Jaga emerged from an exploded pile of boulders, kicked a rock into the air, jumped on it, and sailed through the air, cheesy music blaring in the background, wires clearly visible supporting the prop. The fact that this dramatic entrance leads to the lengthy village smackdown and copious bloodletting just increased my verve. Jaga takes a running dismount and the flying rock crushes some poor sap into a tree. He then unsheathes his dual (plastic?) swords and proceeds to slice and dice. Heads fly off, chests are lacerated, bodies impaled on trees, hands amputated, all in wondrous Campbell's chunky tomato bisque glory. Admittedly, the fight choreography leaves much to be desired; the moves are stiff and often it's brutally obvious that none of the attacks are coming within a yard of their targets.
The good news? These entanglements usually end in someone having a part of his body forcibly detached, followed by a Monty Python-like geyser of fake blood. Witness the thrilling battle on the river, where Mandala and his female counterpart square off against marauding croc-men (jumping out of the water using "clever" reverse photography) and lop off heads and run them through with spears. Most excellent.
These violent encounters are frequent, and represent the sole propulsion for the film's story. My favorite battle of the film is a three-way brouhaha between Jaga, that crazy witch and another dude for rights to the Devil's Sword -- it's a crazy, over-the-top bloodfest, culminating in one of the combatants cut in two, beheaded and exploded. The mayhem reaches its zenith in the final fight with the Crocodile Queen. Chaos erupts as men are thrown into a moat where they are devoured by prosthetic crocodiles and Mandala opens up five kegs of whoop-ass. It's like a James Bond climactic set-piece, just with a lot more female underarm hair.
The DVD itself is typical of Mondo Macabro's excellence: the 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is way better than you'd expect it to be and the stereo sound is loud enough to transmit the wackiness. Besides few text-based nuggets, the sole extra of note is a 30-minute impromptu interview with Barry Prima.
If this type of flick is your bag -- overblown action, copious gore, nonsense plot, goofy dubbed dialogue and exploding witch heads -- I give The Devil's Sword a full-on recommendation. Enjoy.
Not guilty. Ride your floating air boulder to victory!
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Mondo Macabro
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "An Encounter with Barry Prima"
* Heavenly Sword: A History of the Sword