Saturday, February 27, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)

The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)
Working on something here that might become a regular feature.  I love movies. One of my first semi-professional gigs was writing movie reviews.  So really this is just me getting back to my roots.  My reviews, such as they are, will be like my October Horror Movie reviews, though I am likely to provide a little more detail since I doubt that any of these movies need to be protected by spoilers.  Also, I want to talk about any potential game material from the movies.

So let's start this with a movie from deep in the recesses of my mind and see if it lives up.  A special nod to Tim Knight over at Hero Press for reminding me of this cinematic gem. 

The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)

I remember this one from first aired on TV back in 1981.  I remember the next day at school all the D&D guys (we had multiple groups going on back then) were talking about a "heartbow" for their characters. 

The movie starts with a long voice-over about the 12 warring clans and a world "that was or will be."  Anyway our story focuses on Toran of Malveel (Lane Caudell) the son of King Brakus (George Kennedy) is out hunting with his archery master Mak (George Innes) who wields "Elbe" the Heartbow, when he encounters Estra (Belinda Bauer) a sorceress (or seer, or witch) who is promised to kill Toran for what his grandfather did.

This one features Star Trek DS9's Marc Alaimo (Sandros), who, along with Victor Campos (Slant) might be the only decent actors in the bunch. Not only that but the script is fairly non-sensical. Game of Thrones it is not.

Anyway, Toran manages to get himself exiled. This turns out to be a good thing since Sandros betrays the king to Gar, the Draikian (Kabir Bedi), the leader of the Snake-men. But not before Toran can be blamed for his father's death.  Toran leaves his father to find the wizard Lazar-Sa, the only one that can help him become king.

Toran and Mak head out to find the wizard.  Of course, Mak isn't going to make it so the Heartbow is given to Toran.  The scene is different than I remember it, but not too different. 

Toran eventually encounters Slant (Victor Campos), a thief and opportunist.  Anyway, we hear from Lazar-Sa and he directs them to the first of three tests.   

The movie never really picks up at any point and ends with Gar getting a glove that is the evil equal of the Heartbow.  None of that I recalled. 

The ending isn't really an ending and sets up a series.  Lazar-Sa isn't found (there were three tests right?) and...well that is it really. 

Gaming Content

Well. The obvious is the Heartbow, but I'll get to that soon.  It is nice to see snakemen here, orcs are so over used.  Snakemen are fun and are always good for bad guys.  Plenty of  stats for them but I think that Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea does the best with them.  The snakepeople remind me a bit of the Duran Duran video Union of the Snake

Elbe The Heartbow - In D&D 4 or 5 this would be a masterwork bow that you would need to "Attune" too in order to use.  In other D&D it just means you have a limited number of such powerful items you can use (the limit is three in D&D 5).  Elbe can convert any arrow to a magical bolt of energy. 

In truth, go see Tim Knight's post, he details all the magic items in this failed TV pilotmovie better than I am here. 

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters that is if I can get my co-admins to agree this is the best hashtag for this!

3 comments:

Justin Ryan Isaac said...

I think the hashtag is perfect.

Tim Knight said...

Thank you for the very kind words about my own review. I'm looking forward to reading more of your reviews/game-inspiration pieces about sword-and-sorcery flicks in the future.

Dick McGee said...

Good to have this reminder. I vividly remember the heartbow ownership-transference scene and absolutely nothing else about this film. If pressed, I would have guessed it was a short-lived TV series from my childhood - certainly didn't see it in a theater.