Having returned from the crusades, Ivanhoe (Anthony Andrews) makes an impact when he arrives as a mystery knight at a tournament, bringing him face to face with his sweetheart Lady Rowena (Lysette Anthony) as well as the beautiful Rebecca (Olivia Hussey) the daughter of Isaac of York (James Mason). But Ivanhoe is on a new crusade to prevent the evil Prince John (Ronald Pickup) from stealing the throne whilst King Richard (Julian Glover) is still battling in Jerusalem.
I mentioned in my review of the 1952 version of "Ivanhoe" that growing up I favoured Robin Hood having come across both characters and stories roughly at the same time. It wasn't this TV movie version of "Ivanhoe" which introduced me to the story but in truth I don't think it would have made much of a difference as sadly it doesn't impress me much. Now that goes against what seems to be general opinion as there are many who deem this the best version of the "Ivanhoe" story but I find it drawn out and lacking atmosphere.
Now I can some up my issue with this version of "Ivanhoe" by saying "extremes" because it is a movie which sways back and forth between extremes. When it focuses on telling the general story it feels drawn out and dull but then smacks you with a big production action scene. It sadly makes the action scenes seem over the top which is a shame as if the story telling parts had aimed for the same impact with atmosphere and tension as well as a real sense of story telling then it would have drawn the audience in rather than caused them to drop off.
It is the same with the acting because on one hand you have enjoyable performances from James Mason, Sam Neill as well as an enjoyable but overly zealous performance from John Rhys-Davies. But at the other end of the spectrum you have dull performances from Lysette Anthony and in truth Anthony Andrews which contrast too much with the good ones, making this version of "Ivanhoe" incredibly uneven.
What this all boils down to is that 1982 version of "Ivanhoe" didn't do it for me and it was down to it being so uneven with as much which is bad about it as there is good. The most interesting thing I can tell you about this 1982 version of "Ivanhoe" is there is a tradition in Sweden for this movie to be broadcast every New Years day.