Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Ark of the Sun God 1983

   Italian director Antonio Margheriti's wonderfully cheesy and very entertaining rip- off of Raiders of the Lost Ark (with some Roger Moore era James Bond thrown in) is actually the second in a (kinda loose) trilogy -Hey, I wonder where they got that idea ! The the first being Hunters of the Golden Cobra (1982) and Jungle Raiders (1984) as the third. Hunters starred the same principles , while Jungle Raiders substituted Lee Van Cleef in the lead role.

   David Warbeck stars as Rick Spear (love that name), a safe cracker/master thief who's sent to Turkey to steal a scepter that once belonged to a King Gilgamesh who's buried in the Temple of the Sun. I'm not really sure what an ark has to do with anything, other then a tie-in to the first Indiana Jones movie and there is an ark (which looks suspiciously like the Indy one) pictured on the poster. Although obviously working on a very limited budget Magheriti (working here under his Anthony Dawson pseudonym)  manages to pull out a heck of a movie that barely lets up at all during its 98 minute running time.  Also starring Luciano Pigozzi (who was in about every other Italian "B" movie of the time - including all three of this trilogy), Achille Brugnini in the John Rhys-Davies role  (loyal, somewhat rotund sidekick) and Susie Sudlow as the girlfriend.

    Warbeck who also appeared in Fulci's The Beyond (1980) and numerous other Italian productions,seems to be having a wonderful time here (he grins piratically the entire time). The beginning starts off with a James Bond thing going on, but the second half turns on the all Indy stuff (albeit on a smaller scale) - rats in a sewer, pit of snakes, huge rolling stone (actually a wheel here) and a booby trapped temple guarded by a band of Bedouin cult members. Also featuring a couple of car chases done with radio control cars , miniature work and even a scale train. Its not very convincing, but doesn't really seem out of place here - in a good way. Plus, where else are you going to see Trans Am's and Camaro's blasting around around the Turkish desert ?  As the girlfriend Sudlow doesn't get to do much except stand around and scream (pretty much like Kate Capshaw in Temple of Doom ). Aldo Tamborelli contributes a very John Williams like heroic score and the beginning and end credits feature a synth driven pop/disco song.

   The finale with a sword fighting Warbeck leaping around the collapsing temple while it crashes down around the cast is pretty spectacular, all things considering.  A fun way to spend some time. Only video release I can find is a U.S. release on an old Interglobal Home Video VHS and a dodgy DVD from Televista (that looks like it was sourced from a VHS).  Available on a decent looking anamorphic 1:85 Italian  DVD (with English audio option), that I think now is out of print.

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