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13th Warrior, the

Antonio Banderas , Diane Venora , John McTiernan , Michael Crichton    R (Restricted)   VHS Tape
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)

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What happened to The 13th Warrior? Directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard), it's the tale of young Arab ambassador Ahmahd ibn Fahdalan (Antonio Banderas), who's vanquished from his homeland for loving the wrong woman. On his journeys he associates with a ragtag group of Vikings who are traveling back to their homeland to confront a nefarious threat that's cloaked in such superstition they're forbidden to speak its name. It is prophesied by a witch doctor that 13 warriors must confront the evil; however, the 13th chosen man must not come from the north. Suddenly Banderas is forced into the breach, somewhat against his will. More poet than battle-worn warrior, he must not only fight the aggressors but come to terms with the unfamiliar Norse culture. What follows is a vigorous and brutal adventure reminiscent of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. Sumptuous and invigorating battle sequences fill the screen from beginning to end as the brave Norsemen battle insurmountable odds.

Sounds good. So why did this film, once known as the Eaters of the Dead, sit on studio shelves for two years? Presumably because of the thoughtless editing that trimmed down the film to its bare bones, crafting an actionfest out of an epic. It's not often that you crave for a movie to be longer, but The 13th Warrior could've benefited from fleshing out of its subplots and characters. On the surface it's good eye candy with some fine pulse-quickening moments, and Banderas and the accompanying cast turn in sympathetic performances, epitomizing camaraderie in the face of impending doom. However, if you're looking for a good thematic tale from the Dark Ages (akin to Braveheart), you may be disappointed. --Jeremy Storey

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The idea of a culture clash between Moslem and Scandinavian civilizations is nothing new. "The Longships" with Sidney Poitier and Richard Widmark covered a lot of the same ground, even though it was campy and ridiculous. However, as laughable as The Longships was, it was actually a better movie and (believe it or not) more historically accurate! That's pretty sad.
Back in the 10th century, Ibn Fadlan (a real person) wrote an account of a Viking funeral he witnessed. In the 6th century, there was a Geatish hero named Beowulf (who was probably a real person: his uncle Hygelac was definitely real) who slew two ogres (Grendel and his mother) who stormed a king's hall and ate the inhabitants. Beowulf later became a king in his own right, but was killed by a dragon, but not before he slew the beast. Michael Crichton melded the two stories (in spite of the 400-year time span -no big deal) and in order to make it more plausible, changed Grendel and his mother into the "Vendol", a group of late-surviving Neanderthals who had had superhuman strength (Neanderthals were MUCH stronger than homo sapiens) and domesticated ponies. Crichton also changed the fire-breathing dragon into a column of torch-wielding horsemen. These ideas are so original and intriguing that I for one thought it would be nearly impossible to screw up even if the book was rather lame. It's a truism that bad books make better movies than good ones. Crichton and John McTiernan proved that a bad book can make a bad movie, too.
Unlike some people, I don't get all caught up in languages and accents when it comes to movies as long as there is some sort of consistency. I don't fault movies made in the English-speaking world for using English as the common tongue.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie! Aug. 2 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I've watched this move at least a half dozen times and each time it's as good as it was the first time. Antonio Bandaras and the other main characters played their parts very well. Some minor characters were a bit of a stretch but didn't affect the overall movie. Great action, great costumes, realistic settings and storyline.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Movie March 17 2012
It is a terrfic movie. The product was in great shape and there were no scratches on the disc at all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic movie that could have been even better June 17 2004
By Lodge2
This movie had the makings of an epic film that could have given competition to Lord of the Rings. It was a classic tale, with good casting and great costumes. The Viking band was reminiscient of the Seven Samurai or the Magnificent Seven. It was a little bit of a letdown when you realized the evil monsters were really just a bunch of cannibals, but they still turned out to be quite a challenge for the group of heroes. Had they not cut out so much of this movie, it would have been great, instead of just really good.
A definite buy. You will enjoy watching this one over and over again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reinterpretation of Beowulf Aug. 16 2005
I found The 13th Warrior to be a highly satisfying experience in retelling the story of "Beowulf."
I have always been fascinated by the fact that Vikings had travelled all the way to Constantinople/Istanbul well before 800 A.D. That the Byzantine Emperor's Varangian guard was composed entirely of Norsemen. That great cultures --- such as the Middle Eastern Muslims and European Christians --- managed to rub elbows and coexist (more or less) harmoniously for centuries. (This is something that Islamists want us to forget.)
In "The 13th Warrior," an Islamic Arabian diplomat joins a band of Viking warriors as they travel to northern Europe to aid a king. The king is plagued by flesh-eaters, and thus the story of the Anglo-Saxon epic, "Beowulf," is retold through the sensibility of the Arab narrator.
Is the armour utterly authentic to this period? Nope! Fifteenth-century plate armour sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. *But*... does this film capture the character of Norse and Anglo-Saxon warriors? Yes, plus it captures the feral qualities of some of the tribes who fought with the Norsemen. (I kept thinking of ancient Celts, who collected severed heads, as I saw the flesh-eaters of this film.)
"The 13th Warrior" is an unusual, thinking-person's epic with more to offer than the typical blood-and-guts sword-fight film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great service! Jan. 7 2012
I ordered this item at the beginning of December, and it came within 2 weeks for Christmas, which I really appreciated since I left ordering it until late! I couldn't find this particular DVD in any of the stores (rare?) and my husband really wanted it - I was happy to see I could order it on Amazon, and immediately did so. Great, quick service!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Enterntaining Nov. 1 2011
This movie is enterntaining. Banderas does a good job at humour although the movie does not require much acting. Overall a fun movie to watch.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Movie May 29 2011
Another of Michael Crichton's books made into a movie. This one followed the book fairly well and the pace developed well so that the movie itself made sense. This has good acting and fast paced enough that one can't get bored. I suggest reading the book as well. It's called Eaters of the Dead.
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