Monday, August 10, 2009

Kings of the Sun (1963)

Wow. Finally an epic without romans, greeks or egyptians! No peplas nowhere to be seen and thank god, no belly dancing either! I'm talking about Kings of the Sun, a mostly forgotten epic now released on dvd by Njuta Films. This one is set in South American and we follow the young, sexy sad king Balam (George Chakiris), who also sports a classic 1963 haircut! He escapes with his people over the sea and tries to start a new life. But there he meets Chief Black Eagle (Yul Brynner) and first they are enemies... then friends... then enemies... and then finally Hunac Ceel (Leo Gordon) hunts Balam and there's a big final battle! Just the way we like it!

Directed by J. Lee Thompson, this is one massive movie. Thompson could both handle the human drama and the action (just like another master, Anthony Mann), and there's enough of both to keep the interest up. I'm not that familiar with the Mayan culture, but most of the times (except the hair cuts) it has a genuine feeling, and comparing to some documentarys on the subject I've seen, it's kinda close to a realistic approach. At least they tried. Visual it's not really that big. There's a fantastic temple in the beginning, probably a real one, and then there's a smaller at the second half of the movie. But there's no enormous cities... but the scale is fine anyway and if you want to see thousands of extras running around, this is the movie for you.

At the end we have a battle, as usual in these movies, and it's filled with cool stunts and wild fights. I wished Black Eagle had more to do, but that's life. It reminded me of the the flashback in Alien vs Predator where the whole temple is filled crawling with aliens... and it's the same here, but with enemy soldiers. The actors are very fine to and George Chakiris (when is he gonna come out of the closet?) is much better than I expected. As with the always powerful Yul Brynner, he seems to be there to show his hairless skin for the ladies. Nothing wrong with that, but it's good that there's good characters behind the fasade. Talking about You, this russian-born actor is simple THE man. Together with Kirk Douglas he was the biggest, coolest and toughest. He makes Charlton Heston seem like a sissy-boy! ;) If you want to see Yul and Kirk fighting each other, check out The Light at the Edge of the World as soon as possible. You won't regret it!

I'm a big fan of old style adventure movies and epics, and this is one of the finest from the sixties. It's big, bold, beautiful and simply the best!

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