A dive into the ultimate fantasy action genre of “Sword and Sorcery”
There was something like a dozen sword and sorcery movies made in the 1980s. These films were of varying qualities with the best being Conan the Barbarian and most of the rest being less than great. Those that were great though, were unforgettable. Modern fantasy movies just don’t have as much power. The good news is that sword and sorcery movies are due for a resurgence. Here’s what would make it ultimate.
Sword Fighting Choreography
If there is one weakness action movies had in the 1980s it’s weapons fighting choreography. One of the worst sword fighting scenes you’ll ever see is in the opening of Highlander. Another bad one is in the opening of Conan the Destroyer. The list goes on. We love sword and sorcery films despite this flaw.
The great news is that this flaw can be easily corrected today. There are plenty of great movies with awesome weapons fighting scenes being made today: The Matrix: Reloaded, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Gladiator, 300, etc.
Even otherwise horrible movies have great weapons fighting scenes. The Wall starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack (why is he in an action movie?) and Matt Damon has an awesome fighting sequence. Hell, a TV show like Game of Thrones has great sword fights. A Sword and Sorcery movie made today could finally get the action choreography it deserves.
Sword and Sorcery Women
Fire and Ice is an underrated masterpiece. If you’ve never seen a Frank Frazetta painting prepare to have your mind blown. His book covers for the reprints of Conan the Cimmerian stories, coupled with Robert E. Howard’s unrivaled prose, created sword and sorcery as we know it.
One of Frazetta’s most iconic themes was the women of his paintings. They were damsels in distress, scantily clad. Unlike the princesses of common fantasy movies, these women had some muscle on their bodies. What does that have to do with today?
Check out Instagram fitness models (I know most of you guys probably do already). They look exactly like the damsels in distress Frazetta painted. They look just like Teegra from Fire and Ice, and they’re wildly popular. A Sword and Sorcery movie with a damsel that looked like an Instagram fitness model would do very well in the box office (and some gratuitous nudity never hurt).
The Last Resurgence was Half-Assed
2011 was the closest thing we’ve had to a sword and sorcery resurgence. Sure, there was 1995s Kull, but that didn’t spark a trend. Too bad. Tia Carrera had the exotic, voluptuous look S&S fans love and Kevin Sorbo could handle a sword.
2011 saw another Conan the Barbarian movie, this time starring Jason Mamoa. Robert E. Howard purists like Mamoa’s Conan because he fits Conan’s description as told by Howard better than Arnold. Unfortunately, the film was horrible in most other ways. I remember watching the movie in theaters. A child Conan picks up a sword and kills half a dozen fierce warriors. It lost me right there. Pre-pubescent males (a.k.a. children) don’t beat grown men in combat. Also, the villains were all wrong, Rose McGowen looked hot, but she didn’t have the S&S look. The action scenes were lacking (where was the great choreography when the film needed it?). It just didn’t work.
The other S&S film to come in 2011 was Ronal the Barbarian. That’s the type of resurgence we got in 2011.
The Market is Ready
A grown man who appreciates action films with a fantasy twist pines for a great S&S movie. The fantasy films that come out today are coming of age stories like Percy Jackson or Harry Potter. I’m tired of seeing teenagers get nervous around girls before they say the magic words and kill the evilest thing in the universe. I’m tired of seeing PG violence and heart-warming reunions.
We want sword fights that result in lost limbs and blood baths. We want to see grown men test their wills against supernatural evils. In other words, we want an ultimate Sword and Sorcery resurgence.
To read more from Jared Trueheart about the art of masculine story-telling check out legendsofmen.com. Let us know your thoughts on this article and the legacy of Sword and Sorcery movies on the UAMC Facebook page!