So your brother kills your wife, kills your father and kidnaps a nun. What do you do? If your answer is ‘grab a fist sword and a can of silly string’ then you might appreciate Hawk the Slayer. This 1980 fantasy plays like your basic D&D campaign. Eventual Academy Award winner Jack Palance chomps the scenery as the villain. His shenanigans make up for the fact that John Terry’s hero has no personality, whatsoever.
Want to learn more? Then grab your fist sword and read my spoiler filled recap.
Act One: A Fellowship
Scene One: A Temple
VOLTAN (Bad Son): I HATE YOU DAD! (Stabs his dad.)
HAWK (Good Son): Father!
DAD: Hawk, before I complete my slow and bloodless death, I must give you the magic fist sword.
HAWK: Is this a sex toy?
DAD: It’s… more than that.
Scene Two: Abbey
ABBESS: What do you want?
VOLTAN: I’M TAKING YOU HOSTAGE. NUNS, BRING ME GOLD OR THE ABBESS DIES!
NUNS: How do you solve a problem like that Voltan? How do we raise the gold when we’re all poor?
Scene Three: Gathering Allies
HAWK: You sound familiar.
WHISPERING SORCERESS: I was in Rocky Horror. I’ll cast a spell to find you allies.
HAWK: Now we get four scenes in a row that go like this:
BANDITS: Let’s rob those strangers with the conspicuous weapons.
HAWK & STRANGER: Nope. (They kill the bandits and team up.)
HAWK: It’s ridiculous how similar these scenes are. But now I’ve assembled a party.
ONE-HANDED WARRIOR: I’m the least interesting team-mate.
SILENT ELF WITH A BOW: …
GIANT WITH A HAMMER: Giant smash!
COMIC RELIEF DWARF: Smash you? I hardly know you! We’re 45 minutes in. Can we get with the plot?
HAWK: Let’s ride our horses for a little longer. (They do.)
Act Two: Leveling Up
Scene Four: Slaver Caravan
SLAVERS: Come buy some sexy slave twinks.
SLAVE TWINKS: We’re wearing loin cloths. You’re welcome.
GIANT: Slavers bad! Giant smash! (Kills the slavers. Frees the slaves.)
HAWK: Just a minute. Let’s put the head slaver in a gruesome death trap. That way the audience will know we’re morally ambiguous. (They do.)
Scene Five: Voltan’s Camp
(He certainly is.)
VOLTAN: MY BROTHER’s WIFE BURNED MY FACE BEFORE I KILLED HER!
DEMON: A fridging? Fabulous, darling. Give me some nun gold and I’ll see if I can fix that burn.
PRINCE JOFFREY MALFOY STARSCREAM: I should be in charge father! (Draws a knife.)
VOLTAN: SHUT UP SON. (Beats his son up.)
Scene Six: The Abbey
HAWK: We’ve brought slaver gold to save the Abbess.
PRINCE JOFFREY MALFOY STARSCREAM: I’ll take that gold! I’ll prove to my father I’m not worthless by…
(Heroes kill the Prince and chase the soldiers to Voltan’s camp for a big battle scene.)
WHISPERING SORCERESS: I’ll fill the place with fog so you can’t see the poor fight choreography.
VOLTAN: YOU KILLED MY SON! RETREAT, OR I’LL KILL THE ABBESS.
HAWK: Why did we even come here? Retreat!
SHADY NUN: You should have just given them the gold! Idiots! You’re useless!
Act Three: Final Boss
Scene Seven: The Abbey
GIANT: Weren’t you supposed to be comic relief?
DWARF: I ate all your food. That was pretty funny.
SHADY NUN: Have some wine.
(Heroes drink and pass out.)
SHADY NUN: Come in Voltan. You can have the heroes if you return the Abbess.
VOLTAN: NO. (Kills the Shady Nun and the Dwarf. Ties up the remaining Heroes.)
VOLTAN: NOW BROTHER, I SHALL MONOLOGUE AT YOU LIKE A BATMAN VILLAIN, UNTIL SOMEONE ARRIVES TO RESCUE YOU.
WHISPERING SORCERESS: It’s just a jump to the left.
(She throws super balls, silly string and confetti at the villains. The heroes break free for a big battle that you can barely see under the “magic” confetti.)
Scene Eight: Back Room
VOLTAN: DROP YOUR SWORD OR I’LL KILL THE NUNS!
(Hawk drops his fist sword.)
VOLTAN: HAVE YOU ANYTHING TO SAY BROTHER?
HAWK: Not really. I’m pretty quiet. There’s not much to my character.
(Hawk calls the fist sword back with his mind and attacks Voltan.)
VOLTAN: SLOW MOTION SWORD FIGHT! SLOW MOTION SWORD FIGHT! AACK! I AM DEAD!
ABBESS and NUNS: We’re saved!
Scene Nine: Tomb
DEMON: Voltan, darling, you were terrific. I knew I could count on you. I’ll revive you for the sequel. Maybe a trilogy? Then a TV series. You’re gonna love it!
Climb Every Mountain
“Listen, you guys made me into a cult. You bowl along for 35 years, do other things, and Hawk goes along, sometimes it gets a 2-star rating, sometimes it gets a 1, and suddenly, it says ‘cult classic’.” ~ Director/ Co-Writer Terry Marcel
Reviews were poor and a sequel was never made. Director and co-writer Terry Marcel remains passionate and has tried crowdfunding his ideas. It’s not a bad film, per se. Just a dull one. Jack Palance tries to save it but Voltan’s nun-ransoming scheme is silly and his dialogue lacks bite. Everyone else lacks personality. The reliance on haze effects can’t make the lousy fight scenes look convincing.
It’s a simpler film than last week’s Krull though it follows similar tropes. Hawk’s rag-tag team of heroes can be traced through fantasy, sci-fi, Western and samurai stories. They seem to already know Hawk but I missed the explanation of where from. I’m not even sure who Hawk is after a first watch. Is Hawk a prince? A nobleman? A farm boy? If you know, tell me in the comments. What are your favorite Sword & Sorcery films?