It was with misgivings that we chose "Iron Warrior" to review. We had a vague feeling that we'd seen it before. But the box had lots of people with metal exoskeletons and stuff, so we decided to take the plunge and rent it anyway. It delivered what it promised... there were guys in metal exoskeletons. It hadn't promised anything about pacing, plot, or acting quality, which was lucky. But no one had prepared us for the SUPER SECRET SURPRISE ENDING!!! (Don't worry, we won't ruin it for you.)
An evil witch, Phaedra, is held captive by her sisters in some sort of magical orbiting hula hoop thing. The good sisters hold a sort of a parole hearing for Phaedra, in which she spits such lines as "The king is old. I will overwhelm him. He cannot stand in my way. I will sqaush him like a bug." and, more incoherently, "Ha! I spit upon the beginning." Won over, the sisters release her, granting her all her former powers.
After Phaedra returns to her normal life, a voice over, apparently by John Wayne, drawls some exposition about how she returns to her old habits: summoning the dark arts, crushing the world under her jackboot, etc. Her chief weapon, The Duke informs us, is "Trogar, the Iron Warrior, the leader of the hordes of hell." We notice that Trogar the Iron Warrior looks a lot like Destro.
"All these villains," we whine. "Where is the hero?" Never fear; he's just one bewildering exposition away. In the grand tradition of sword and sorcery movies, he is first shown as a kid (laughing nervously as his brother is kidnapped) and then shown on the top of a cliff, glistening with oil and practicing tai chi in front of a mirror. After a suitably long period of watching him gyrate, we feel like we're sufficiently familiar with his character (He's oily. He's a good guy.)
No sooner are we familiar with him than we are bustled away by the whirlwind Iron Warrior editing to meet the heroine. She is lying on a divan on top of a cliff looking at herself in a mirror. "De ja vu?" we wonder to ourselves, but this thought is quickly dispelled when she gets up and begins to perform, not tai chi, but ballet.
Now that we've grown resigned to this band of freaks, the plot starts. Phaedra comes to visit the heroine, Princess Janna, on her birthday, and, like that wicked witch in Sleeping Beauty, gives her an evil gift. Instead of a curse, however, Phaedra gives her something much stranger. Her curse appears to be that Janna has to watch some incredibly poor special effects as the witch transports this cauldron around the room, using the old teleportation trick we all used when we first played with someone's camcorder. You know, you hold up a soda can... an accomplice turns off the camera... when it is turned back on, you are in something approximating the same pose, but the soda can is ... gone! and the lighting on the room is different and somebody's foot is in a different place and your face is somehow smeared with chocolate. After a series of these embarassing special effects, the cauldron appears in the king's lap. He opens it, and the witch crows, "Do you like that? The cauldron is filled with worms! They will eat you!" Then she disappears. (Neither cauldron nor worms ever appear in this movie again. Apparently the worms walked after filming this scene... artistic difficulties with the director... and the script was hastily rewritten to exclude them.) Next, the Iron Warrior comes in, murders some guys, and leaves... which is actually a much more effective way to ruin a birthday party than by teleporting worms around.
So now the king needs to send someone to save his kingdom. Naturally, he chooses his daughter. "Janna, light of my life," he says, "why don't you wander around alone in a kingdom filled with hell spawn hordes, wearing that gauzy red dress which absolutely does not hide your breasts, looking for God know what until you are kidnapped and killed by some villains, or you happen to bump into an oily barbarian who will save the day." Janna agrees and runs outside the palace, where she is instantly captured by hell spawn hordes.
So now Janna is tied to a sacrificial altar. And only twenty minutes into the movie! A sword is suspended magically above her and some Jawa-esque creatures are trying to set her on fire with flint and steel. Luckily the hero, Ator, runs to her rescue (in one of the longer running sequences in a movie without the word "running", "Prefontaine," "chariots", or "fire" in the title). Then when he arrives, he has to fight the Iron Warrior, who has some great moves. For instance, Ator and the Iron Warrior lock swords. Then the Iron Warrior punches him! or another one: Ator and the the Iron Warrior lock swords. Then the Iron Warrior kicks him! Finally, however, the hero prevails... for now.
In a few stentorian words the princess explains her problem--the kingdom is beset by evil--and Ator, eyeing her cleavage, agrees to help.
20 minutes of walking, 11 adobe huts, 2 dips in a lagoon, 1 rope bridge and 1 line of dialogue later the princess takes Oily to meet her father. but... uh oh... the palace has been taken over by bad guys! Ator is forced to fight the Iron Warrior again! Instead of sword fighting, Mr. Warrior grabs some spears off the wall and throws them at Ator. Ator catches them and throws them back. The Iron Warrior catches them and throws them back. This goes on. It's reminiscent of the famous battle scene at the end of Field of Dreams where the father and son hurl baseballs at each other, and is similarly inconclusive, for the princess, saying, "I think it's time we go," leads Ator from the room and to safety. "Thanks, you saved my life!" he tells her, but we think he really means "Thanks, you saved me from a bad case of tennis elbow!"
By now the heroes are really despondent. Vents Janna, "These dark powers are taking over my kingdom!" "So I noticed," smiles Ator coyly. (Really. He smiles. Why?)
Enter the Good Witch Deeva who reveals that the Iron Warrior is Ator's brother! Gasp! Nothing could have prepared us for this, not the brother's disappearance at the beginning of the movie nor the Warrior's suspiciously Darth Vader-like breathing.
Further, Deeva reveals, the only thing that can defeat the witch is something called the "Golden Chest of the Ages". We halt in mid-booby joke to point out how suddenly the movie has moved from pilfering Star Wars' plot points to the equally obscure Indiana Jones.
The adventurers journey to find the Chest, which is on an island made of the director's daugher's "How do Volcanoes Work?" science project. The Chest of the Ages is hidden in a Temple of something (not Doom, that's for sure) which can only be reached through a mine shaft. On the way the heroes are pursued by not one but TWO giant rolling boulders! and when they crash into each other they explode! Sounds exciting, right? That just shows that you haven't seen Iron Warrior. It's amazing, but bad editing, excessive slow motion shots, and reused footage can ruin even such a dazzlingly promising premise as giant exploding papier-mache rocks.
So they find the Chest and escape right before the science project erupts and sinks into the sea from whence it came.
Now it's time for the big duel between Ator and the Warrior. It's not exactly the sword fight to end all sword fights, but there are some cool new moves. For instance, the Iron Warrior makes a figure 8 with his sword. Then Ator makes a figure 8 with his sword. Then it's back to the old locking-swords-and punching tricks.
After Ator defeats his nemesis, the mortally wounded Warrior reveals that he is Ator's brother. The revelation kinda loses some impact since the witch already told us that.
Now that the Warrior is out of the way, Ator has a big cliffside showdown with the witch. (So many of the scenes of this movie take place on a cliff.) She proves to be immortal and invulnerable to Ator's sword. But luckily there's a brazier of coals sitting around, outside, on the cliff, during the day, and Ator, taking as his mantra "Immortality, schmimmortality," shows Phaedra who the boss is by sticking a torch in her mouth.
Next Ator picks up a red strip of gauze, and we are reminded of the princess, whose absence we had not been aware of until now. Presumably she's dead.
It's all over, we think, and begin to look about the floor for our personal possessions and throw away our weepin' hankies. That's when they spring on us the amazing surprise ending! Well, we won't ruin it, just in case you're the one person in America who DOESN'T know the ending yet. No, we won't tell you, unless you really want to know. Let's just say that it's a "Sixth Sense" type surprise ending, a real shocker. You can download the video clip if you want to spoil it but we recommend that you rent it to find out. If you don't want to ruin it let's just let it suffice to say that it's pretty damn amazing. And surprising.
One truly unbelievable aspect of Iron Warrior is the accuracy of the cover depiction. All the characters on the cover are present in the movie and what's more is they all look the same as well.
Now we've seen a few movies in our day. Inevitably at the beginning of any rented movie, someone in the room generally feels the need to over exaggerate their fear when the FBI Warning is displayed. Comments like "Uh oh... I hope they don't find me out." usually follow. This isn't even done because people think it's funny, it's just a requirement of watching a video. It's much like when playing the game Taboo someone always has to grab the buzzer and pretend to shave their face. It's not that anyone ever believes that they'll get a laugh out of it, it more of a responsibility. "Now that that's over we can get on with the game!"
For reasons unknown, the movie Iron Warrior's protection goes above and beyond the responsibility of merely the FBI. For some reason the Interpol has to step in. The FBI Warning warrants no further ridicule, the Interpol Warning on the other hand needs to receive the standard collection of lame responses usually reserved for the FBI.
- "Uh oh, the Feds are on my doorstep!"
- "You guys won't turn me in will you?"
- "We're taking an awful risk here..."
- "I'm such a rebel."
- etc., etc., etc.
The best part of these remarks is that 90% of the time there is no actual violation of the law taking place and people's jokes are being used as if the act of watching a movie was against the law.
A Note on the Costumes:
As I have mentioned, the princess is wearing a sheer red dress which does not hide her breasts at all. It's kind of like looking at a naked girl through the red lens of a pair of 3D glasses. Furthermore, Ator's costume involves the usual cape and assorted pieces of armor, but nothing to hide his own rippling chest. So one can be guaranteed that at all times, someone's nipples are shown on screen. But now here's the weird thing: Jaana's and Ator's nipples are never shown in the same shot. Already unsettled by the mysterious disappearance of the worms, we begin to speculate wildly: are there actually only one set of nipples, which are passed from actor to actor between shots? We think we see both sets in one shot, but it's quick and we don't get a good look at them... it could be stunt nipples or one of those split-screens like in the Patty Duke Show.
The Iron Warrior bears more than a passing resemblance to Destro of G.I. Joe fame. Unfortunately he lacks the genius possessed by Destro. Destro was capable of making plans to eliminate his enemies that were actually quite good. The Iron Warrior is capable of only swinging his sword clumsily in the general direction of Ator. Destro was also capable of speech. This also seems to elude the Iron Warrior.
I guess they both suffer from having to be the second in command to a very poor leader. An analogy can be made:
Some of the scenes in Iron Warrior are simply beyond description. Here are some downloadable video clips for your viewing pleasure.
In this scene we learn of the explosive property of solid rock. The princess narrowly escapes being crushed by the two approaching boulders which explode on impact.
Format: .rm (real video format)
File Size: 389 KB (0.39 MB)
1... 2... 3...
This scene gives you a little taste of some of the fast paced action in Iron Warrior.
Format: .rm (real video format)
File Size: 1.4 MB
Don't download this scene unless you want to ruin the movie for yourself. Warning: this ending with both stun and shock you!
Format: .rm (real video format)
File Size: 750 KB (0.75 MB)
Download Real Player