Tales of an Anciet Empire

The 80s was a wonderful period for of those of you who grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons, as sword & sorcery fantasy films were frequently being made and released. Most have been, of course, relegated to "cult film" status these days, but it is truly a shame that the genre as a whole all but disappeared for the past 20 years. That is...until Peter Jackson proved that interest in fantasy films has lain dormant, ready to be awakened.

Now, "fantasy epics" are being greenlit by many studios. Among these, a small little film is being made in the spirit that existed back in fantasy films' heyday. The title, Tales of an Ancient Empire, should be familiar to any of you who know of one of the classic films of 80s fantasy, The Sword and the Sorcerer, a brisk, high adventure film that was unapologetic about its masculinity & chauvinism; the fantastic three-bladed sword wielded by the hero, Talon (played by Lee Horsley), featured in the title was an immediate allure for the genre's fans. The film ended promising further adventures of Talon in an upcoming film called Tales of an Ancient Empire. Then the fantasy bubble burst.

Flash forward to today as The Sword and the Sorcerer's original director, Albert Pyun, is busy in post-production on the long promised sequel. Naturally, the previous film's hero, Talon, is now too old to continue the adventures, so a new, young band of warriors lead by Kevin Sorbo of TVs "Hercules" series, will take the reigns as Talon's children. Albert Pyun has recently been releasing clips of the unfinished film on his Vimeo site, letting fans in to the process, revealing rough cuts of scenes. It is a brilliant bit of marketing, giving fans snippets to wet their appetites in addition to serving as a promotional tool to attract new fans unfamiliar with the original film. Beyond this, however, the clips reveal the important role editing plays in filmmaking. By viewing the scenes Pyun has made available, one can get a sense of how performances can be shaped, mood manipulated, and potential script inconsistencies or problems fixed or circumvented. They also reveal how music, sound, and other crafts related to the process complete the experience.

The first scene released is a simple conversation scene between the two leads, Sorbo, and Melissa Ordway. As the very first glimpse at footage from the film, the scene confidently quells personal worries that the film would lose something in the "mists of time" as sensibilities have certainly changed in the last 20 years. This feels like a sword and sorcery film and more importantly, it still feels like The Sword and the Sorcerer. I think it is safe to say that had Pyun not directed this sequel, I think the sensation would be quite different.

You can view 3 other clips (and I assume more are to follow) at Pyun's Vimeo site by clicking here. I look forward to seeing the difference between these rough cuts and their final iteration in the released film. With a rumored sequel to another 80s cult favorite, Hawk the Slayer, going in to production, fantasy adventures might just be making a comeback. Fingers crossed...

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