Runtime: 101 minutes
Director: Giacomo Battiato
Starring: Rick Edwards, Ronn Moss, Barbara De Rossi
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Final Score: 6/10
The Mongol. The Human Weapon. The Black Warrior. All are part of an era when codes of honor became codes of conflict. All are ready to fight to the death in a time of Hearts and Armour.
Tanya Roberts heads a talented international cast in this sword-clanging adventure. She plays a Moorish princess desired by a Christian warrior and swept up in a turbulent showdown of magic, armour and valiant knights.
In the spellbinding tradition of Excalibur which centered on Arthurian legends of the north, Hearts and Armour brings to the screen the medieval myths of sun-drenched southern Europe. In a titanic clash of cultures, Christians and Moors cross swords in brutal combat, playing out entangled destinies – and creating legends that would endure through the ages.
There is very little exposition in the movie, which, depending on your view of it, can be good or bad. The biggest problem with having no exposition is following the story. Unless you’re familiar with the time of the crusades, you’re going to be lost. Some basic plot points are easy to see, but there is no backstory to help with what’s going on in the background. The story that the movie follows is simple but has some odd and confusing side stories. Some of the more interesting parts of the story are completely ignored. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is just inane and only helps to move the plot along. The movie toes the line between very dramatic and ridiculous.
The romance in the movie is an indication of how bad the characters were done. Both “relationships” begin without either person speaking to the other. It feels like there are scenes that happen off screen. There is so much history between characters that is implied in this movie, but we don’t get to learn any of it. We must take the characters’ actions as their only development, with no hints as to their motivations. The two warriors that the movie follows are the only characters who have any kind of development. The few characters who would have been interesting are not given much screen time.
The action in Hearts and Armour is simple compared to most fantasy movies but is better because of it. There’s no jumping around or using the environment, it’s just the fighters and their weapons. Most of the fights are with swords, but there are a few interesting weapons near the end. The fighting is great and never becomes over the top except for the fight at the beginning. A few close ups and slow-motion sequences are used and are more noticeable because the fighting doesn’t need it. There is some mounted combat, but it is a very small part of the action.
This movie is mostly historical adventure, but it has some magical elements that places it into the historical fantasy genre. The first thing that comes up is the magic suit of armor that can fight by itself and makes the wearer into a formidable warrior. Then there is the stone that turns someone invisible when it is placed in their mouth. And lastly, the old druid/wizard who runs around trying to force people away from destiny. This is all very subtle magic and the effects are not showy. The effects don’t have to be good, but they are anyways, especially the fire effects.
The designs are very historical and there are not many fantastical aspects to them. The costumes are all great. Most of the armor is basic plate armor, but there are people who have some interesting designs later in the movie. The landscapes are mostly barren and rocky, even the forests. There is a scene in a cave that has a fairy tale feel to it though. There are not many buildings in the movie and most of them are just tents. There are a couple real structures and they both look good.