a pure horror movie per se, but it has some horror elements to
it that make the story a bit creepy, add some great battles with
plenty of carnage, and some of the baddest Vikings this side of
Valhalla, and you've got the formula for one of my all time favorite
movies. So, if I had to classify this one, it would be a full
on Viking testosterone fest with some cannibal beasties and plenty
of gore thrown in. How's that for a sub-genre?
Antonio Banderas (who I usually don't care much for) plays Ahmed
Ibn Fahdlan Ibn Al Abbas Ibn Rashid Ibn Hamad (whew!) an Arabian
poet who was banished from his homeland and assigned the duties
of ambassador to the Northlands, solely because he had eyes for
the beautiful wife of a Sultan type.
Not long after he is cast out of his homeland, he comes across
a band of Vikings in the middle of a funeral for their king (looks
more like a party), soon a young boy appears and tells of an ancient
evil a "terror that has no name - that must not be named." Soon
an old oracle shows up and calls for 13 men to battle this evil,
12 of the Vikings step up to the task, and the 13th man must not
be a man of the "North" therefore Ahmed (Banderas) is reluctantly
recruited to be the "13th Warrior." At the beginning of the quest,
many of the warriors are skeptical about the truth behind any
ancient stories of this untold evil. But soon, they realize what
they are really up against when they make a grisly discovery at
a nearby farming camp, where they find what’s left of the victims
that appear to have been “gnawed upon.”
I don't want to go into too much detail, as this is a movie that
must be watched, so me hashing out the story here would be blasphemous
(and would probably tick Paynecraft off as well!)
What I will say though is that to me, this is so much more than
a movie about a band of Vikings setting out to battle a bunch
of cannibalistic creatures. This is a movie about the Viking spirit,
and how they were a great race with a tremendous outlook on life.
The Vikings believed that their fate was “fixed” and that the
only thing they could do was at least be brave in battle so that
when they die, they go to Valhalla to live for eternity.
So much of what makes this movie great is the dialog between Ahmed
and Herger. You see, Herger always seems to put a positive spin
on just about everything, for example, at the beginning of a battle,
it starts to rain, and Herger simply mutters “Well, we don’t have
to worry about fire now..” So matter-of-fact as well. Beyond Herger’s
quotes is a “poem” of sorts that the Vikings say at the beginning
and end of the movie, and it gives me goose bumps every time I
hear it, I just think it’s so cool.
'Lo, there do I see my father 'lo, there do I see my mother, and
my sisters, and my brothers. 'Lo, there do I see the line of my
people back to the beginning 'lo, they do call to me, they bid
me to take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla where
the brave may live forever.
Some of the story points are left hanging, I couldn’t help but
think that there was a good amount of story that got left on the
cutting room floor, in particular is a sub-plot involving a king’s
son, it felt like I was missing something, or maybe it was just
an underdeveloped part of the story that was never meant to go
anywhere. Add to this a lack of character development (they’re
Vikings, that’s all the development I need) but some people need
to know EVERY little nuance about every character to be satisfied.
These shortcomings however had little to no effect on the overall
movie experience for me.
Great story, outstanding acting, epic battles (and plenty of them),
and a good amount of gore. Highly recommended!
9.5 out of 10 Wendol