Quest For The Mighty Sword (1990)

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Re: that hookline, no it doesn’t, and no it doesn’t

You can’t beat a good misleading title, and this one’s a doozy. Our hero doesn’t so much quest for the mighty sword as he does find it under a rock in the home he’s been living in for 15 years or so; and this particular quest is more like the movie’s prologue than anything else, happening in the first 20 minutes. Fans of trash cinema may find those troll outfits familiar, and that’s because they were re-used outfits from “Troll 2” – not the only thing the two movies share (they also both suck).

It’s not just got one misleading title, though, being known as “Troll 3” in some markets, despite director Joe D’Amato releasing another – also entirely unrelated – movie which was billed as “Troll 3” (better known to us as “Creepers”, “The Crawlers” or “Contamination .7”). It’s also occasionally listed as either the third or fourth “Ator” movie, the cheap Conan knock-off series previously starring Miles O’Keefe, despite having nothing to do with any of the previous movies, sharing no cast or plot elements and making the lead character completely different. Oh, plus it’s listed on IMDB as “The Hobgoblin”, which is different to 1988’s (also terrible) “Hobgoblins”.

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Are you confused yet? Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to ponder such questions as the movie rumbles on, because it’s not exactly packed with conflict. The best way I can think of to describe it is as a computer game with the cheat codes turned on, because while hidden stuff still causes a slight problem, monsters fall immediately and everyone thinks the main character is the best thing ever. I’m going to have a go at recapping this one, because the plot is a delightful, meandering, odd thing and I hope you enjoy reading about it.

 

Ator is a Prince, and we see him dishing out justice to a couple of criminals, who apparently have a win your freedom or die thing going on (spoiler: they don’t go free). Then, a large monster-looking chap, who is apparently a demon, or a minor god, or something, decides that Ator is showing him up by being fair and decent to his subjects, and kills him. Where will it go from here, I wonder? Well, Ator’s wife escapes with her baby and Ator’s broken super-sword and goes along to some hobgoblin she knows who runs a forge. She asks the hobgoblin to raise her son and reforge the sword to give him when he turns 18…oh, and also that she wants to commit suicide due to her husband being dead. You know, like normal. Anyway, the hobgoblin gives her a love potion rather than poison and has his wicked way with her…and then she’s cursed to wander the earth as a prostitute, being beaten and abused by her clients (although we don’t find this out til later).

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The hobgoblin then raises the kid even though he had absolutely no reason to, a kid who grows up to look identical to his own father and is also named Ator. Why not? Ator finds out that this chap betrayed his mother, so after being tricked with a few fake swords and generally having the hobgoblin be a dick towards him, while he’s one his own one day, Ator finds the broken sword, reforges it and splits his former mentor in half. Ator’s helpful old woman turns up and tells him his destiny, which is to rescue the beautiful Dejanira and marry her. She was a goddess who spoke up on behalf of Ator and was sentenced to mortality as a result, although the movie isn’t too good at supplying these details to us.  Someone else wants Dejanira though, the evil Prince Gunther; plus, his sister Grimilde wants Ator for her very own. Gunther is played by the old white guy Donald O’Brien, while Grimilde is the significantly younger Indonesian-born Laura Gemser; it’s a bold move to make them brother and sister, but this movie does it!

 

Anyway, back to the action. Ator beats a couple of baddies up without really trying (including one robot, D’Amato did love his pointless anachronisms), and rescues Dejanira almost embarrassingly easily. He also frees his mother from her curse with no problem at all (in fact, he’s barely aware he’s doing it)…but then the cheat codes don’t work for a minute and they all get captured by Gunther. Before escaping with Ator, Grimilde shapeshifts into Dejanira, but Ator notices pretty quickly, and after confronting her, they nip back to Gunther’s castle, with a predictably quick and easy battle to finish everything off. Oh, there’s a fight against some frog-people in there somewhere, presumably because one of the producers had a warehouse full of the outfits and wanted rid of them; and a friendly guy with a boomerang who pops up to help out.

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We all know the hero is going to survive the movie. That’s a given. But the tension of the powerful villain, or the morally justified one, is what makes these sorts of movies interesting, and when the hero achieves everything he set out to without encountering any resistance, it falls flat. Well, flatter, because nothing about “Quest For The Mighty Sword” is interesting at all. Star Eric Allen Kramer (Robin Hood: Men In Tights, “The Hughleys”) is a solid dependable actor, but here he’s barely trying, and rather than looking like the lean, ripped Miles O’Keefe, looks like a large former high school American football player gone to seed. All the other actors, even those not under troll masks, are terrible too, like they realised that they were in a Joe D’Amato movie and didn’t need to try.

 

Joe D’Amato was, by all accounts, a warm and generous guy to work for, but his filmed output was largely rubbish, being cheap rip-offs of Hollywood genre movies, gory horror, and (almost exclusively towards the end of his career) pornography, of the soft and hard-core varieties. The first two “Ator” movies, one of which was covered by “Mystery Science Theater 3000”, are fun affairs, but by this point everyone had stopped caring. Not so much bad as utterly pointless. Sword-and-sorcery movies should at least be a bit exciting.

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Rating: thumbs down

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