1. A guy clearly wearing a fake bald-cap
2. Tora complete with giant mustache, winged hat and mittens
3. Lotus, a treacherous Chinese woman
4. The obligatory eye-patch-wearing right-hand man]
The plot is packed with memorable scenes and really quite well structured, but it’s too complicated to really discuss in detail here. I can guarantee rollicking battles, not-too-shocking betrayals and the indispensable histrionics where everyone looks about ready to fire lightning out of their faces. Everything is deliciously overwrought and a bit arbitrary in a way that is at once incompetent and daring compared to today’s comic book adaptations. I mean, why is that Viking chopping a little girl in half during the battle. Was the child participating in the fight? Was there no one else more strategically of value? Did he bring the child himself to kill in a demonstration of his intimidating blood-lust?
The action and adventure (not to mention the violence) has a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and vigor. Even pacifists will doubtlessly find themselves caught up in the low-budget mayhem of “one-shot, one-stunt” filmmaking that features more gratuitous brawling, clashing and chopping than you can throw a tomahawk at. Though there are plenty of deaths involving pathetic minor henchmen getting shot by silent blow-darts and weakly falling to the floor (BORING!), director Mehmet Aslan adds thrills to his kills whenever possible. Hanging over a snakepit by your hair not frightening enough? How about getting menaced by a giant octopus!
The violence is mostly all in good fun, more like an old “Sinbad” movie than today’s uncomfortably visceral gore and savored cruelty. Aslan likes his black and white unmarred by grey; the villains tend to be so deliciously evil as to be downright lovable. Who doesn’t love it when someone lets fly their hawk to gouge out they eye of a failed henchman? In most of the swordplay it is laughably obvious that the only body part in any danger of being skewered is the armpit and although you might find more women, children and elderly at the end of the blades (which are likely to be conspicuously more bloody as well) than in your average American PG film, no harm is meant.
However, your typical Bible belter would probably not be pleased by the number of breasts on display and it should be noted that the film is not aimed at children despite the silliness. Aslan doesn’t shy away from the more lascivious half of the Viking’s “rape and pillage” campaign nor does he shy away from the obvious box-office potential of stocking the cast with Amazonian-like warriors and belly-dancing seductresses. Progressive this movie is not, but at least equality can be given lip-service when it comes to storming the ramparts with bravery and gusto.
For the men, every strapping young lad gets to vicariously experience their ultimate dream: wearing a cape, eye-patch and winged helm in an awe-inspiring display of masculine glory. Ultimately, the belle of the ball is neither man nor woman, for no costume could possibly rival the enormous octopus outfit. Though under-inflated and over-used (the effects team was zealously proud), he dominates every scene with tentacle thrashing might.
The music consists almost exclusively of three tracks. Two of them are stolen from other movies (the third one might be as well) and all of them surge with grandiosity, ensuring that every battle gets boss battle treatment.
Propelled by enthusiasm, indulgence and ingenuity (one of the “special effects” involves turning the camera sideways to show Kurt climbing out of a deep pit) “Tartan Versus the Vikings” makes for an excellent roll in the Elysian fields of adolescent male fantasy and Euro-trash kitsch. Mondo Macabre, a dedicated distributor that is one of my fast-rising favorites, has released the film as a double-feature (with the far inferior “The Deathless Devil”) so there is no reason to miss out!