Hawk the Slayer (1980)

Directed by Terry Marcel
Starring Jack Palance, John Terry and Bernard Bresslaw

OK. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one, but as I recall there’s a nunnery under attack by an evil warlord (Palance), and the nuns hire a band of protectors  including a dude with a rapid-fire crossbow, an elf, a dwarf, and a giant (Bresslaw), led by the heroic Hawk (Terry), and guided by an enigmatic witch. It just happens that the evil warlord is also Hawk’s brother, and once offed Hawk’s fiancée for refusing to sleep with him. Oh, and Hawk has a magic sword that he can control with his mind.

There’s a showdown, and everyone but Hawk and the giant – oh, and the nuns – are killed, after which the witch encourages them to go and make a sequel. They set out, but mercifully never fulfill that quest.

What’s wrong with it?

Mostly its just tacky, but the acting is also poor. The special effects aren’t very special, and the whole thing is just a cheap, fantasy knock-off of Seven Samurai, right down to the elf and his quick-draw scene.

What’s right with it?

If you’re sufficiently tired not to care, it’s decently diverting I guess, and the rapid-fire crossbow was kind of cool, even if it was plainly just done by looping the film.

How bad is it really?

Pretty much of a stinker, but mostly through apathy. It’s not actively appalling in the way that Conan the Destroyer or Sanctuary are; it’s just dull.

Best bit


What’s up with…?

  • The film? Seriously, it’s a while since I saw it, so anything that doesn’t make sense could just be my memory playing tricks.


Production Values – Cheap and…well, not even cheerful really. The whole thing was a little drab. 15

Dialogue and Performances – A group of actors whose ability ranged from the camp to the plain horrible truly received a script worth of their talents. 16

Plot and Execution – The plot – such as it was – was basically ripped off from Seven Samurai et al, and then mangled by poor direction and camera work. Very little effort seems to have gone into the making of this dross. 12

Randomness – Frankly, every time Hawk’s in trouble, the witch springs him, to the point I ended up more interested in her than any of the other characters. Magic is used as the plot device to end all plot devices, and thus all attempts at decent continuity are abandoned. 17

Waste of Potential – Once more, this is not a film that was ever going to be a classic, but a few good ideas are maimed along the way. 10

Overall 70%


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