The 13th Warrior (1999)
The Not So Maginficent 13
I am sorry to all those who think "The 13th Warrior" rocks because I have to disagree. The storyline is a mess, there are gaping holes which makes it laughable, the attempt to try and be historical makes it hard work and to be honest all it ends up is a series of action scenes. Now if all you want it a movie which has epic action then yes "The 13th Warrior" will entertain but man this movie could have been so much better than just lots of action.
Having been caught making eyes at the Kings wife, Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Antonio Banderas - The Mask Of Zorro) is exiled from his homeland and sent north as an ambassador for his country. It is on his travels that he links up with a group of Norsemen and finds himself joining a group of 13 who head by boat to answer the call for help by a village under attack from strange beasts. Totally unprepared for what is to greet him Ibn is forced to toughen up and learn to fight as Norse men in order to survive whilst using his wisdom to help them.
"The 13th Warrior" alienated me straight from the get go as it reached for authenticity as we have at least 20 minutes of listening to Norse or at least I presume it is Norse. It makes it hard to follow and hard to follow makes it hard to get into when you have no idea what is being said. But that is just the start of it as then in order for things to become English we have a hilarious scene of Ibn observing the other warriors and magically being able to understand them just by watching their lips. It is seriously laughable as is so much of the movie where things happen for no reason whilst filling in the time between the action.
Now if all you want is epic sword wielding action with some occasional humour then "The 13th Warrior" is going to be a crowd pleaser. In a way it evolves into a Viking version of the "Magnificent 7" but with 13 instead. But there are no real characters other than Ibn to really connect with and so it fails to create that same sense of connection as the "Magnificent Seven" achieved. It makes it little more than a movie with lots of big action, blood spurting sword fights and very little in-between,
What frustrates me is that "The 13th Warrior" had so much potential to be more than just action and actually deliver something with depth. With Ibn having come from the middle east it could have focussed on the way his culture differs and show him evolving and dealing with having to be a fighter but it never does.
What this all boils down to is that if you are easily pleased by epic action then "The 13th Warrior" is going to impress as there is no denying that visually it is impressive and often brutal. But for those wanting storyline, character development and more than just action are going to be seriously disappointed.
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