I Pirati della Malesia
Sandokan: Pirate of Malaysia
Los Piratas de Malasia / Les Pirates de la Malaisie / Die schwarzen Piraten von Malaysia / The Pirates of Malaysia / The Pirates of the Seven Seas / Meute der Verdammten
Italy/Spain/West Germany/France 1964
Solly V. Bianco for Euro International Film, La Société des Films Sirius, Lacy Internacional Films
directed by Umberto Lenzi
starring Steve Reeves, Jacqueline Sassard, Mimmo Palmara, Andrea Bosic, Nando Gazzolo, Leo Anchóriz, Franco Balducci, Pierre Cressoy, Giuseppe Addobbati, Nando Angelini, Dakar, George Wang, Sujata Rubener, Asoka Rubenert, Fortunato Arena, Domenico Cianfriglia, José Torres, Nazzareno Zamperla (= Nick Anderson)
screenplay by Ugo Liberatore, based on the novel by Emilio Salgari, adaptation by Ugo Liberatore, Nino Stresa, Gérard Cohen, music by Giovanni Fusco
Sandokan, Sandokan (Steve Reeves)
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The 19th century, the South China Seas: The British under Lord Brook
(Leo Anchóriz) have just brutally taken Sarawak and dragged the benign
Raja (Giuseppe Addobbati) off to a secret location, and now they want to
heavily arm themselves to take out the rebels, led by Sandokan (Steve
Reeves) - but Sandokan learns of their plan, infiltrates the ship that
delivers the gold to Bombay to buy the weapons, lures it into an ambush,
and ultimately can not only thwart the British plans but also free
Princess Hada (Jacqueline Sassard), his love interest and the daughter of
However, the only one of Sandokan's friends who knows where
the Raja's held, Tremal-Naik (Mimmo Palmara) is held at a high security
prison camp ... which Sandokan enters as a Malaysian dignitary siding with
the British, and Lord Brook is quick to make him his guest of honour while
Sandokan manages to get Tremal-Naik to fake his own death ... and somehow
they get away with it, but are recaptured the same day with all of
Sandokan's men, plus Princess Hada. And while Princess Hada becomes Lord
Brook's hostage to put pressure on her father to resign, Sandokan and pals
are sent off to the most brutal prison camp imaginable where nobody has
survived for more than a month - but Sandokan manages to unite all
prisoners, revolt against the guards and escape. Then it's off to Lord
Brook's inconquerable fortress - and of course, Sandokan manages to enter
it and cause enough turmoil that the British are distracted from guarding
the fortress agains intruders, which makes it easy for Sandokan's man to,
well, intrude. And of course, in the finale Lord Brook gets his
comeuppance by the hands of Sandokan, which results him falling off a
cliff to his death.
Now all through his career, Umberto Lenzi
was a terribly uneven director, and Italian pirate movies from the 1960s
do not have the reputation of being incredibly well-made - but this one is
actually a an extremely well-conceived movie ... well, sure the story is
simplistic, the characters are flat, and some of the acting is wooden -
but it makes perfect use of its exotic locations (Singapore), does very
well in the props department, the action is well-timed and staged, and the
whole thing is paced a lot better than most comparable Italian movies from
its era. Now don't get me wrong, this doesn't make it a masterpiece - but
good escapist entertainment nevertheless.
review © by Mike Haberfelner
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