Quest For The Mighty Sword (1990)

Quest For The Mighty Sword (1990)‘In the hands of a hero, it has the power to save the world. In the hands of evil, it has the power to destroy it.’

Ator, son of Ator, goes looking for a mighty sword. He finds it in 20 minutes. Some other stuff happens afterwards.

Ator, the Fighting Eagle first appeared in a movie of that name in 1982 in the person of muscular Miles O’Keefe, who had first come to the public’s attention in the title role of Bo Derek’s less than stellar ‘Tarzan the Ape Man’ (1981). O’Keefe played the role 3 times; battling giant rubber spiders, ugly snake creatures and smarmy villains. All on a very tight budget. It’s fair to say these films were awful. But when original director David Hills (better known as Joe D’Amato, real name Aristide Massaccesi) went for a 4th film, he’d either lost O’Keefe’s phone number or he’d decided that a reboot was in order. And, in a remarkable feat of filmmaking prowess, he delivered the unthinkable: a film that was actually even worse than the 3 that had preceded it.

Part of the problem is Eric Allan Kramer in the title role. Now, he is undoubtedly a more expressive actor than O’Keefe and quite a large chap, but he simply doesn’t have the physical presence required. He’s also saddled with a silly blonde wig and far too much dialogue. It’s not that he delivers the dialogue badly; just that it’s inane at best and diminishes any remaining mystique that the character has. There’s barely any real story; some silliness about his mother being cursed to wander the kingdom forever in the guise of a good time girl whose only allowed to get it on with ugly blokes (really!), an evil king who wants to turn Ator’s girlfriend into a statue, an evil dwarf badly in need of a dental intervention and a barely glimpsed evil bloke who offed our hero’s father. There’s some silly mumbo-jumbo about the ‘gods’ and the heroine spends some of her time as a bird (I think).

Quest For The Mighty Sword (1990)

It’s not for us to judge.

Ok, so a lot of these ‘sword and sorcery’ epics don’t have much of a storyline, do they? They’re not about the acting, either. No, these ‘epics’ stand or fall on the combat and the action, the monsters and the SFX. So, how does all that stack up here? Well, to be blunt, it doesn’t. Kramer wields the ‘mighty sword’ like it’s a piece of plastic (maybe it is?!) and the monsters wouldn’t scare a toddler.

The tagline (given above) makes absolutely no sense at all, as the sword doesn’t seem to have any special powers and no one really seems bothered about it once Ator’s got his meaty paws on it. Or maybe I’d fallen asleep by that point. This is a tatty, slapdash production that looks like it was knocked off in a couple of days when everyone involved was thinking about something else. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could get an iota of enjoyment from such a creatively barren enterprise.

Ator did not return afterwards. He probably fell on his plastic sword.

Iron Warrior (1987)

Iron Warrior (1987)‘Life is an illusion. Death is real.’

Brothers Ator and Trogar are being raised as protectors for the kingdom’s future Princess when wicked witch Phaedra kidnaps Trogar and turns him into a soulless beast. Exiled for her crimes, the witch returns 20 years later to complete her plans, but she has reckoned without the posing prowess of Ator, the Fighting Eagle!

In the early part of the 1980s, the U.S. and U.K. thrilled to the exploits of Conan the Librarian in the shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger. But audiences in continental Europe had their own warrior hero: the mighty mulleted Ator, The Fighting Eagle (1981); slayer of giant rubber spiders. Ator was Miles O’Keefe, whose stateside film career had begun – and pretty much ended – in the title role of Bo Derek’s ‘Tarzan, the Ape Man’ (1981); a film mercilessly crucified by critics and public alike. ‘Ator’ on the other hand, shifted enough box office tickets to prompt an almost immediate sequel: ‘Ator, the Invincible’ (1982). It was utterly dreadful, but actually not as bad as the first one. Both these epics were brought to us by director ‘David Hills’ (actually better known as Joe D’Amato, although both names were 2 of the 68 professional pseudonyms used by Aristide Massaccesi).

Hills/D’Amato/Massaccesi jumped ship for Ator’s belated third adventure; replaced in the director’s chair by ‘Al Bradley’(actually Alfonso Brescia). He was known for a series of cheap, interchangeable ‘Star Wars’ knock-offs from the late 1970s. But something far more important had happened in the intervening 5 years than just a change of director! Something that was the biggest cultural change-up since the Renaissance. What was it? Why, MTV, of course!  As a result this film resembles nothing so much as the ‘vague story bits between the performance footage’ of a hair metal music video. We get soft focus! Blue tinting! Low angles! Coloured smoke! Wind machines! And lots and lots of slow motion!

The plot? Well, O’Keefe and heroine Savina Gersack wander about a bit looking for something or other. She has one red eyebrow and a dress that never tears. Every now and then Trogar turns up. He wears a shiny metal skull mask and wants to kill Ator. He and Ator fight. O’Keefe and Gersack wander about a bit more. Some horsemen turn up and attack them. Halfway through there’s a strange ‘vision’ bit and her dress changes colour. Trogar turns up again. Ator fights him. There’s a couple of lines of dialogue. The horsemen ride right under O’Keefe and Gersack when they are hiding in plain sight on a rope bridge. Trogar turns up again. In a ruined city, Ator lets her go first into a dungeon. What a gent! Only she gets trapped underground and chased by exploding bowling balls. Way to go, Ator! O’Keefe and Gersack find a golden chest. But it’s not the real one. And, hang on, here comes Trogar…!

Iron Warrior (1987)

The Princess had some strange hobbies.

The film is very different from the first two movies in the series, but there’s absolutely nothing else to recommend it. O’Keefe and Gersack are possibly the least engaging screen couple ever; struggling to muster even one significant facial expression between them. The brief dialogue is pretty appalling too: ‘But what if they kill you?’ ‘Then I’ll be dead. But they won’t.’

The action scenes can’t save it either; the big fights mostly play out in slow motion and aren’t even remotely convincing. Elisabeth Kaza hams it up unmercifully as the evil witch, providing what entertainment value there is, but it’s not all that much!

Ator returned for one last hurrah in ‘Quest for the Mighty Sword’ (1990) but O’Keefe didn’t! It was sacrilege – how could they make an Ator movie without Ator!? But not to worry – Hills/D’Amato/ Massaccesi returned to the director’s chair to ensure that the legend stayed in a pair of ‘safe’ hands…