13th Warrior, The
This film was slammed by the critics for being a silly effort - but it is entertaining action-adventure.
Antonio Banderas plays an Arab poet, exiled from Bagdad and sent as Ambassador to the distant lands far to the North. Omar Sharif has a cameo as Banderas' guide and translator. On their travels they encounter a band of Vikings, who are celebrating the death of their old King and the inheritance of the new one. Sharif communicates with one of the Vikings by using Greek as a common language, and then translating to Arabic for the benefit of Banderas.
A messenger arrives and tells the new King that another Viking Kingdom needs his help. The Viking witch-woman says that 13 warriors should go, and the 13th should not be a Norseman. Of course, Banderas gets the job. The 12 Viking warriors include a couple of familiar faces - Scottish actors who have played many roles on British television.
The messenger arrives by ship, but for some strange reason the 13 warriors travel by horse. Banderas sits around the fireplace with the 12 Vikings and somehow learns their language.
The Viking lands are being preyed upon by a tribe of stone-age cannibals who dress as bears and worship statues of a fat mother-goddess. They attack only when there is fog, and overwhelm their victims with surprise and vast numbers.
This is obviously an influence behind The Horde in the Xena: Warrior Princess TV show. Unfortunately the writers of Xena dumbed it down, and in the episode Daughter of Pomira destroyed it totally.
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