The 13th Warrior
review by David G.
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Starring Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Omar Sharif,
Screenplay by William Wisher & Warren Lewis from
the book "Eaters of the Dead" by Michael Crichton
Directed by John McTiernan
Retail Price: $29.99
Features: Theatrical Trailer
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby
Digital English, 5.1 Dolby Digital French, English Captions,
In the 10th century, in old Baghdad, Ibn Fahdlan (Antonio
Banderas) is sent as an ambassador in the north territories
because he had a relationship with the wrong woman. His
journey brings him to meet a Viking tribe lead by Bulliwyf
(Vladimir Kulich). As he attempts to study these
"barbarians", an emissary arrives in the village to claim
help. The Rothgar's kingdom is threatened by some mysterious
devils called Wendols which kill people by taking their head
away. According to the prediction, only a group of 13
warriors including one stranger is able to defeat them.
Fahdlan is forced to go with them and thus to be the witness
of horror he couldn't imagine.
The 13th warrior is a movie that has been unfairly
criticized by the public and by critics in part because of
its chaotic production. In effect, the movie directed by
McTiernan (Die Hard, Predator) is about two hours and thirty
minutes long and takes time to tell the story of Fahdlan's
banishment, his travel to the north lands and also a love
story between him and a young north woman.
But Michael Crichton (the writer of the book and
producer) didn't like McTiernan's cut and decided to re-edit
it in his own way. The result is a hybrid work overall. In
the first part of the movie we can see the eagerness to
introduce the fight between the Vikings and the Wendols.
But, McTiernan, maybe the best action director, is brilliant
enough to offer us a real epic movie with wonderful
characters and beautiful landscapes.
McTiernan is also known to be a real filmmaker and all
his movies present strong directing. The 13th Warrior is one
of the best examples (with Die Hard) of his talent,
particularly in the amazing learning language sequence in
which McTiernan employs the intelligence of the audience
with appropriate camera movements and calibrated editing. It
is with no doubt one of the major sequences in the career of
McTiernan. Of course, the whole movie is as well directed
and edited as this sequence (!).
The originality of this movie is that, Ibn Fahdlan is not
the hero in a Hollywood typical way, he's just the narrator,
the real hero being Bulliwyf. During the whole film, Fahdlan
even tries to integrate the warriors tribe and go understand
them but he's able to just at the very end. This might be a
concern in regard of others "real American hero" stories in
which the stranger usually arrives in a foreign place and
resolve the troubles the inhabitants couldn't.
The movie is presented in a perfect widescreen anamorphic
2:35:1 format with a clear picture. Artifacts and noises are
rare. The transfer is correct: nothing more or nothing less.
That is a little disappointing for such an ambitious movie.
Two soundtracks are included: English Dolby Digital 5.1
and French Dolby Digital 5.1. They are about the same, the
surround speakers and the sub are efficient and clear, yet
not so powerful. Maybe McTiernan wanted it that way but
personally, I would prefer to be trapped in the battles with
the swords hitting flesh all around.
Nothing but the theatrical trailer and some
This a DVD that every McTiernan fan must purchase.
Despite the poor editing of the first part, the movie brings
us in a real epic adventure that is wonderfully filmed.
Maybe one day there will be a special edition with the
original cut and a commentary.
(4/5, NOT included in
NOT an average)