Being a responsible parent 2: Hawk the Slayer

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Seeing as I’m taking the high road and setting out to make sure that Finn can safely watch any manner of movies without untold trauma, nightmares and growing up into a serial killer, I’m taking it on myself to watch as many of the films I saw as a kid to see how “Family friendly” they are. Last time I provided sage and sound advice when confronted with Childhood classic and young mind destroyer Watership Down (Suitable for all, my arse). This time around it’s another one from my childhood: Hawk the Slayer 

Hawk the Slayer poster

Ah, the 1980’s. A time of rabid capitalism red in tooth and claw, when man forsook such dirty left wing virtues as kindness and embraced competition to settle out the winners from the losers. Of course, there were some downsides to the decade, what with music that defies taste and fashion that can only be described as inexplicable. Nevertheless, the big upside of the 1980’s was that the cinema available to developing and inquisitive minds such as mine was simply miles better than the 21st Century equivalent. I feel sorry for my son that he will never know the joys of seeing naked boob in a PG film, and that random acts of stabbery are now deemed verboten to his fragile little eyes. Luckily for him, I have no truck with any of that nonsense, so provided I’ve seen the film and deem it acceptable, he has access to a whole plethora of awesomeness and will never have whatever drivel passes as Family Cinema inflicted on him.

"And then they put the kettle on" I do like a film that comes with helpful instructions.

“And then they put the kettle on”
I do like a film that comes with helpful instructions.

The Film:

Set in some knock off Hyrule type fantasy world, Hawk the Slayer follows the quest of the eponymous Hawk (John Terry), who I’d guess slays things (unless it’s a clever title) as he treks around the suspiciously mundane countryside fighting his big brother Voltan “The Dark One” (a hilariously overacting Jack Palance). Accompanied by the world’s smallest giant (Bernard Bresslaw), and, conversely, the world’s tallest dwarf (Peter O’Farrell), not to mention a bizarrely robotic elf (Ray Charleson), the film builds up to an epic battle over an abbey or some such. Oh, and Hawk wields the epic Mindsword, a hilariously “magic” sword that floats around on barely visible wires with a jewel in the bum that makes noises like Ming the Merciless’ ring in Flash Gordon.

Jack took the news that he'd signed up for 3 Hawk the Slayer movies with admirable stoicism.

Jack took the news that he’d signed up for 3 Hawk the Slayer movies with admirable stoicism.

The Good:

Objectively? Nothing, and I say this out of dearest love for the film. It’s a masterpiece of so-bad-its-good cinema. Hawk the Slayer is, on any reasonably critical level, an astronomically awful movie. The aforementioned Giant and Dwarf are just slightly larger and slightly smaller than average men, the fight choreography is dire and the acting bordering on non-existent. Except for Palance, who seems to be in an entirely different film to everyone else. Nevertheless, by the same score this is an absolutely AWESOME movie. It’s fucking hilarious, and almost all of the laughs come from a bang-on script and a completely over the top synth heavy score. It’s impossible to hate a film that has the line “I am no messenger. But I will give you a message. The message of DEATH!” in it. So I refuse to. By the same score, yes, the fight scenes are ridiculous, and John Terry is smugger than something very smug indeed, but really, it’s simply hilarious. Hawk the Slayer is simply a hugely entertaining movie. And it’s got a machine driven crossbow in it. Which is awesome.

You Lookin' at me?

You Lookin’ at me?

The Bad:

Well, if I’m forced to nitpick, practically everything. The acting, bar palance, is dreadful, the plot simply makes no sense whatsoever, the synth score is ridiculous, the special effects are mundane (being kind), and the fighting is, er, somewhat gutless. Oh, and the direction is dire, with a number of really poor pieces of shot composition. And it finished wide open for a sequel that I don’t think ever happened.

But that’s just quibbling. This is a film you either love or you don’t get. Simples.

Sometimes words are not sufficient for a picture. This is one of those times

Sometimes words are not sufficient for a picture. This is one of those times

Advice from the Authorities:

So, what do those in power think. Well, in the UK, Hawk the Slayer is a PG:

PG stands for Parental Guidance. This means a film is suitable for general viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. A PG film should not unsettle a child aged around eight or older. Parents should consider whether the content may upset younger, or more sensitive, children.

Sounds alright, doesn’t it?

But what about violence. Well, the censor has this to say:

Violence will usually be mild. There should be no detail of violence in a PG work, so while there might be some blood, we would not see how the injury was inflicted in strong detail. Violence is generally more acceptable in a historical, comedic or fantasy setting, because of the distancing that this provides. It isn’t uncommon for PG films to feature ‘roller-coaster’ action or set pieces, where the emphasis is clearly on the adventure or journey of the main characters rather than the detail of violence or fighting.

As far as threat and horror goes, we allow some ‘jump’ moments and frightening sequences as long as they are not prolonged or intense.. Fantasy settings may again be a factor in the treatment of such content.

Hmm, so it promises lots of violence then, does it? But that special type of non-traumatic violence.

I may talk like a sedated Dalek, but I'm an Elf, goddamnit. Look- Pointy fucking ears and everything. Elf. Not Dalek. Elf. Got that?

I may talk like a sedated Dalek, but I’m an Elf, goddamnit. Look- Pointy fucking ears and everything. Elf. Not Dalek. Elf. Got that?

Jarv’s opinion:

It’s fine. In fact, I think the guidance may be a bit harsh, to be honest. There’s fuck all in Hawk the Slayer that could upset even the most sensitive little snowflake of a child. I suppose the cobweb strewn corridor Hawk navigates down to see the witch while reciting dubious dialogue could be scary if you were kind of dim, but even when the ambush takes place, the score kicks back in again and they just ride off. So, no, not scary at all.

As to violence, well, there is a fair bit of it, but it’s almost cartoonish. So, yeah, let’s ignore that as well.

Pity there’s no boob, mind. That must be unique for an 80’s Sword and Sorcery effort.

Hawk penetrated that ring... Hehehe

Hawk penetrated that ring…
Hehehe

Finn Appropriate? 

Course it is. There’s nothing in here more frightening than the average Sunday morning cartoon. Even stuff that’s meant to be scary (the witch) is hamstrung by the piss poor budget and the inability of the director to stage a shot in anything other than close up, thereby revealing all the flaws in it.

All acts of stabbery are completely bloodless, and there’s not even a single, solitary, lone boob to be seen. A can’t think of a more kiddie friendly Fantasy film than this one. And it’s better than the Hobbit too.

Eh up, Hawk, Your bell end is glowing green. I'd see a doctor about that.

Eh up, Hawk, the tip of your sword is glowing green. I’d see a doctor about that.

Overall:

Top film this. May have been made at the fag end of the 1970’s on the absolute cheap, but it’s boundlessly entertaining and an absolute laugh riot. As an entirely child friendly stabbery movie, with a stupid flying sword to boot, it’s hard to top Hawk the Slayer. Obviously, it’s not a good film, but frankly I don’t care, and I’m looking forward to watching this with my boy in the future.

I wasn’t kidding, it’s easily better than The Hobbit. At least it’s not boring.

Until next time,

Jarv

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

31 responses to “Being a responsible parent 2: Hawk the Slayer”

  1. Xiphos0311 says :

    Ah, the 1980′s. A time of rabid capitalism red in tooth and claw, when man forsook such dirty left wing virtues as kindness and embraced competition to settle out the winners from the losers

    Ah the good old days and the last time men were made and pussiness wasn’t celebrated as a virtue.

    Automatic crossbows FTW.

    • Continentalop says :

      I think you remember the 80s wrong. For me it was a decade where men pretended they were men but were instead either roided up freaks who couldn’t fight or do anything real useful if their life depended on it (Sly, Ahnold, Hulk Hogan), or were rich pricks who somehow though cheating and lying and manipulating Wall Street made them some kind of ubermen (Gordon Gecko types).

      70s, with its bikers, truck drivers, hardhats, outlaw country and smooth black dudes in leather coats, was the last era of cool manliness iMHO.

      • Jarv says :

        Surprised that that throwaway remark prompted debate.

        The thing about the 80’s was that it was arguably the last time that films were made without thinking “this is a sausagefest, we need a woman otherwise women won’t see it”. If you think about it. And the ‘splosions were better too,

      • Continentalop says :

        Oh, I wasn’t talking about the movies per se. I was talking about the mentality and national mood and what not.

        But I agree about the movies.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        bikers are fucking cunts. roided up freaks? have you seen college campuses lately? Wolf of wall street, seen it? 97 percent of people under 35 are self involved pussies that play soccer or wear tap out gear which is the same as playing soccer. In short the 80’s was the last time that produced anything resembling a man. Mellinnials except for a lot kids in harness are useless fucking morons that think they are too fucking smart to be fucking morons.

        I’ll give you outlaw country and raise you alt country.

      • Continentalop says :

        I’m comparing the 70s with the 80s, not nowadays. Nowadays suck. I firmly hate the 21st century.

        WOWS starts out in the late 80s and goes into the early 90s. I would say assholes like Jordan Belort are creatures of the 80s and Gordon Gecko.

        Ok, bikers are POS, but biker movies rule.

        Also, I feel pity for Millennials. My generation and the one before it fucked everything up. If Millennials are pussies, it is because of their parents, so the blame falls on Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

      • Jarv says :

        Technically we’re gen-x. And I’m not taking the blame for this

      • Continentalop says :

        I am. Or at least I am blaming my lousy generations.

        We’re the lame-o’s that pushed Marvel comics and Star Wars nerd culture on these kids.

      • Continentalop says :

        I mean, Millennials weren’t really clamoring for a TRANSFORMERS, GI JOE or TMNT movies, Gen-Xers were. And I blame Gen-Xers for those horrible Platinum Dune remakes.

  2. tombando says :

    I have only caught some of this, but if Palance chews the backdrop as badly here as he did in Buck Rogers, you Know I’ll give it a watch should the opp arise….sounds like Krull/Yor/The Cave Dwellers fun. And all 3 of those are/were better than the Hobbit. Esp the Cave Dwellers. Bronze Age Hangliders are fun.

  3. Continentalop says :

    I know I have seen this but can’t remember one thing about it. I need to check it out.

    But you know what makes movies nowadays so bad? There horrible mediocrity. A bad movie is better than a mediocre movie, which is just boring.

    Also, everything about movies nowadays are better than they were in the 80s save for the movies, which are safe and sterile and damn fucking boring.

  4. Continentalop says :

    One final drunken note: have you seen ALONE IN THE DARK (1982) with Palance and Martin Landau and Donald Pleasance? If not, you should track it down Jarv. I remember it being fun.

  5. tombando says :

    Seventies had: Good Times, Sheriff Lobo, Kojak, Archie Bunker, da Fonz, Mork, the Sting, 10cc, Donna Summer and Star Wars.

    Eighties had: Cosby, Rambo, Simon and Simon, Mellencamp, Smurfs, Fright Night, Joan Jett, Back to the Future, Police Academy and My Tutor.

    Hmmmmm.

  6. Toadkillerdog says :

    Jarv, good review. I never saw this flick even though I recall seeing the vhs all over blockbuster back then.

    Question, when did Jack Palance not overact?

    Conti, we are remembering a different decade dude.

    Granted, I was give free room and board and snazzy outfits by God’ greatest creation: The USMC, so perhaps my I am biased, but I recall the real 80’s – not movie 80’s as being removed for the navel gazing late 60’s/70’s ‘sensitive’ guys and not being the current pussified PC aughts.

    Today some ‘bros’ will go to a gym and get his ‘swole’ on then think he can take on a bar full of men because he had a spinning/mma class. Or just get drunk at a football game and then get his ass kicked by another drunk bro.

    Yeah, I would take the 80’s over the 70’s and the now any time of the week.

    • Continentalop says :

      That “sensitive guy” thing to me is over exaggerated. Yes you had Alan Alda, but you also had Shaft, Popeye Doyle, Rockford, Kojak, the Corleones, the Warriors and Dirty Harry.

      But it really wasn’t the pop culture, it was society. The 80s to me was an era of incredible self-delusion and growing class distinction and the birth of soccer moms and helicopter parents. But I admit, it’s still better than nowadays (I just prefer the 70s over the 80s).

    • Continentalop says :

      Plus guys getting drunk and getting their asses kicked at a football game is an American tradition that I’m sure goes back to the 1910s.

      • Toadkillerdog says :

        Ha, Conti. You are right about getting drunk and ass-kicked being a long standing tradition!
        I think the frequency has increased in the aughts but no doubt it is longstanding.

      • Continentalop says :

        As a Vikqueens fan, I remember them a whiskey bottle was thrown at a ref. Proud moment for us Minnesota people (no really, that guy had good aim).

  7. tombando says :

    Hey don’t forget the late, lamented Barrel Man(TM) in Denver. Mile High’s not been the same w/out him.

  8. Just Pillow Talk says :

    This movie is priceless. Robotic elf kills me, I should watch this again.

  9. ThereWolf says :

    Palance is absolutely brilliant in this.

    I should give Hawky another watch – as I can’t remember much else about it…

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