Wandering through a high fantasy world, David Carradine finds himself caught between a ganglord, a warlord, and a lot of naked women in 1984's The Warrior and the Sorceress. In fact a remake of Yojimbo, it compares unfavourably to the original in just about every way.
Unlike Sanjuro in the original Kurosawa film, who’s a world weary samurai but still shocked to see a dog wandering around carrying a human hand, Carradine’s “Dark One” laughs when he sees a woman and child being killed at the beginning of the movie. Instead of Kurosawa’s vision of the one man who could stand in the middle of turmoil and mitigate or stop the trouble we have a much more cynical, vaguely defined character. His motives are entirely mercenary as he pits one side against another until he realises one side’s favourite slave is the sorceress Naja, played by Maria Socas.
It was brave of Socas to appear topless throughout the entire film (apparently Naja’s choice) though, as a surrogate for the sake brewer’s captive in Yojimbo, a tiny part, her character is still less developed. Her vague motives having to do with a hazily defined lost order where she was at a high place in the hierarchy also gives the Dark One his vague motive for helping her—he used to be a knight or samurai in that same order and so naturally her subordinate. So instead of the world Kurosawa created where a rough around the edged ronin decides to help people on his own impulses, we have a surly swordsman who reluctantly manifests his loyalty to an old party.
Carradine appropriately plays the role with less warmth than Toshiro Mifune played his counterpart in Yojimbo, which also has the effect of making him a lot less interesting to watch.
Produced by an uncredited Roger Corman, The Warrior and the Princess has big goofy 80s fantasy sets to put Masters of the Universe to shame and the ganglord is a low budget Jabba the Hutt knock-off who’s best friends with a cheap lizard hand-puppet. The film’s kind of satisfying on a cheap, greasy schlock level and it’s available on Amazon Prime. Though you’re a lot better off watching Yojimbo on The Criterion Channel.
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