Friday, May 31, 2019

Rare Flix: Ator 3- The Iron Warrior (1987)

Not so much the black sheep of the family as it is the arty sheep.  This is Ator 3- The Iron Warrior, a 1987 Action Film from Alfonso Brescia.  Oh right- U.S. Release, so...Al Bradley.  This Film goes by a few variations of the Title.  It can be The Iron Warrior or just Iron Warrior as well, depending on the region.  Some leaned into this being an Ator Film, although I take a bit of an issue with that.  They have Miles O'Keeffe as a Barbarian of sorts and some Magic- that's it.  There's no story connection, his 'Ator' seems very different and it is completely-standalone.  It would be like calling Red Sonja by a new Title- Conan the Barbarian- The Red Warrior.  Arnold is in that playing a Barbarian, but that's the only connection whatsoever.  So now that we've made it clear that this Film is not what it is often billed as, let's discuss why it is not it seems either.  To invite the simplest comparison, calling this a 'Sword and Sorcery Film' would be like just calling El Topo a Western.  I'm going to lean in hard on the Jodorowsky comparisons here too, as Brescia gets really whimsical when it comes to slow-motion, dense subtext and bizarre visuals.  Like his iconic Film, the Movie puts weird places and things in an ostensibly-familiar setting.  This one has a King on his throne, for instance, but said Castle is actually just a stone room filled with people in crazy outfits holding anachronistic dogs on leashes (and there's only like 6 of them).  It's weird and wonky.  Is it good?  To find out if the original Director was right to disown this entry, read on...
We get craziness right off the bat as we meet a bunch of Witches that apparently control everything.  One of them is locked away by the others for exactly 18 years.

Yes, they did steal this from Superman, including the phantom-like faces of the Council and the silly hoop thing as a prison.
She comes back to target the Princess a la Maleficent.  Their Castle- as noted earlier- is less interesting, big and grand.
She sends the titular Iron Warrior in to kill all 5 Guards and apparently the entire defense.

Seriously, Lichtenstein looks at you guys and laughs!
Ator is here to...practice in front of a mirror until the Plot pulls him in.  He saves the Princess and manages not to do something silly like make grenades.
The biggest selling point of the Film is the visual style, made up from the wondrous sights of a real Island they filmed on.
The flipside: the Plot is a slow, jumbled mess of 'go here and find something.'  In between that, weird slow-mo fights and magic shenanigans.
Ator eventually bests the Warrior after learning its secret- it is his Brother!  He was taken by the Witch and apparently NOT freed by the other Witches, since they are, well, a word that rhymes with witches.
The Witch tries to trick them right up the end and nearly kills the Princess.

Looking back at it, her plan to drag her around for an hour before riding her into a prone spear wasn't a good call!
She gets burned to death and everyone lives happily ever after...maybe.  This Film is vague about it, so I will be too.
A weird, weird experience.  I should call it a Film.  Is it though?  It's definitely more of an experience.  It's so random, trippy and eclectic that I can't be sure what actually happened.  I'd be curious to see this with someone involved actually trying to explain it.  Did Alfonso Brescia do Commentary before his 2001 death?  I hope so!  This one is definitely the oddest Ator in many ways.  They all have either silly magic, silly science or silly monsters.  In this case, it tops them all by being dream-like, self-serious and having the sort of wandering spirit that you normally see in French Films.  Brescia made a unique Film.  I don't know if it is good or not.  I feel like I have to watch it again and pay more attention to see if there's enough 'to get.'  It's visuals are stunning.  They used two Islands- Malta and Gozo- to great effect.  They don't need great Sets if they have the real thing!  If I could actually follow the Plot, this would be a definite recommendation.  As it is, the Film is beautiful, weird, eclectic and weird.  Yes, I said weird twice- it earned it.  Speaking of weird, how often do Fantasy Films feature Power Lines?
Next time, I dig into my 'mystery bag' of Films and get something random.  I don't know, so you can't either.  Stay tuned...

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