Being a responsible parent 2: Hawk the Slayer
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,