IRON WARRIOR (1987): A Slice of Italian Sword & Sorcery Trash Hits Blu-ray

It may be trash, but it’s my kind of trash

Two young brothers are separated when the wicked witch Phoedra (Elisabeth Kaza) steals one away. Decades later, the heroic Ator (Miles O’Keefe) leads the beautiful Princess Jana (Savina Gersak) on a quest to defeat the witch. Phoedra’s masked enforcer is a mystical swordsman who conquers all in his path. Who could this masked character POSSIBLY be?!?!

Largely devoid of thrills, mystery, effectively shot action, or compelling performances, Iron Warrior, apparently the third film in the Ator series (though I would never have known without looking it up), Iron Warrior is deserving of the trash label. But dammit, it is my kind of trash. This isn’t to say I particularly liked the film. I found myself frequently hoping it’d pick up steam or quicken my pulse at least once, and it never quite rose to that level. And yet, Iron Warrior falls so squarely in my wheelhouse, I couldn’t help being happy that the fine folks at Scorpion Releasing gave this Conan cash-in a shot at finding a new audience in glorious HD. Looking more fantastic than it probably ever did in 1987, this is a bare bones Blu-ray but the image is incredible. Actually, this is one of those situations where the image is so clear in this transfer that the cheap details of the film are probably over accentuated. There’s a climactic sequence involving a rounded boulder à la Raiders of the Lost Ark (not to mention some model work supposedly visualizing that the island we’re on is sinking) that absolutely never looks like anything more than a giant rolling paper mache piñata. And the sinking island? Half a step above a model in a bathtub.

It’s just that I find a certain amount of charm in Italian trash of this era. Filmed entirely on the Mediterranean island of Malta, one gets the sense that the crew got a few permits to shoot in some eerie looking ruins and that coupled with the success of Conan The Barbarian was all that was needed to justify an entire feature film. With no sense of a need to build to a climax or stage any action sequences that might land with any weight or ferocity, we simply play a little dress up and crawl around a bunch of ancient ruins and caverns and dangle off of glorious cliff sides for a cool 90 minutes.

I’m also endlessly charmed by Italian productions aimed at Western audiences which use aliases. Here Director Alfonso Brescia is credited as Al Bradley. It appears this wasn’t any kind of fluke as this film came quite late in his career, having directed over 50 feature films before his death, many of them under that same alias. When I look up a film on IMDb and I see an Italian name listed where “Al Bradley” was once proclaimed, I just perk up and buckle in for the ride.

Iron Warrior is for sword and sorcery completionists only. None of the magic, adventure, character work, or performances ever even really approach compelling. But those who love the era and the genre will probably find themselves at least somewhat charmed by the attempt. Scorpion Releasing has cranked out a gorgeous-looking bare bones Blu-ray that never lives up to the glory of its cover art, but will nonetheless appeal to a very small and loyal subset of Italian sword & sorcery aficionados.

And I’m Out.

Iron Warrior hits US Blu-ray 12/14/21 from Scorpion Releasing

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