As director of this clanging historical spectacle, Michael Chapman--cinematographer of RAGING BULL (1980)--ineptly stages action scenes and incompetently handles actors, thus demonstrating the wisdom of sticking to what one does best.
Due to the sagacity of dying Icelandic ruler Valgaurd (Raimund Harmstorf), his heir apparent Kjartan (Ralf Moeller) eludes slaughter at the hands of the throne-usurper Ketil (Hinrik Olafson). Escaping with the Ghost Sword that Ketil covets (and will later recapture), Kjartan wanders into the land
of Lawgiver Magnus (Rurik Haraldson), just in time to prevent physically the marriage of Magnus's daughter Gudrun (Ingibjorg Stefansdottir) to Ketil's brutal ally, Mord (Hans-Martin Stier). Afterward, in the icy wasteland, Kjartan trains in warriordom with disgraced clansman, Gunnar (Sven-Ole
Thorsen), who prepares Kjartan for his destiny, although he lusts after Kjartan's new love, Gudrun. In a loyalty conundrum, unhinged Gunnar breaks tribal law by slaying two of Ketil's scouts from the same family. Meanwhile, ever conscious of fulfilling a prophecy regarding Kjartan and Gudrun's
reign over Iceland, Magnus and his family sacrifice their lives so Kjartan and Gudrun can ride further out of Ketil's clutches.
Although Gunnar cracks under pressure and begins killing innocent Vikings, Kjartan and Gudrun are able to extend their life spans due to the interference of a benevolent ghost who wipes out an entire Ketil contingent. Intent on wedding Gudrun to consolidate his power, Ketil agrees to a tribal
powwow, but Gudrun tricks him; instead of conceding to a betrothal, she declares herself the new Lawgiver. When Kjartan arrives, he beats Ketil fairly in combat and reclaims his family's Ghost Sword; Gudrun and Kjartan establish a new era of Viking peace and prosperity.
Primitive rather than primal, this celluloid comic strip isn't nearly as much fun as Richard Fleischer's THE VIKINGS (1958). Despite gorgeous on-location shooting, THE VIKING SAGAS is an ancient superhero dud that confuses spilled gore with invigorating action. Bogged down by pompous narration,
this flick is essential viewing only for the non-discriminating who prefer their violence fantasies cloaked in legendary dress-up. The most perplexing question revolves around director Chapman's technique: why does he continually cut away to close-ups of lopped-off limbs during battle scenes?
Blood-drenched nonsense, the film fails on a visceral level and doesn't come close to engaging the audience emotionally with its clumsy approach to myth-making. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, adult situations, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: As director of this clanging historical spectacle, Michael Chapman--cinematographer of RAGING BULL (1980)--ineptly stages action scenes and incompetently handles actors, thus demonstrating the wisdom of sticking to what one does best. Due to the sagacity… (more)