November 30, 2012

Hearts and Armour (1983)

"Bradamante, a woman wearing an invincible suit of armour, is travelling the countryside at the time of the Crusades. After ending up in the middle of a web of romantic and cultural tangles, she finds herself in love with a Moor prince, while one of the Christian knights has fallen in love with a Moor princess. Others, however, are against the cross-cultural romance, and Bradamante's love is soon forced into a duel to the death. Will she ever be with her true love?"

Do you remember "Hearts and Armour" from the '80s? No? Nor do I much except that it was the second VHS tape that I ever bought after "Flesh + Blood" (1985). I'd never heard of it before, but the original VHS artwork looked similar so that was enough for me. I practically threw my pocket money at the guy in Blockbuster and ran home thinking that I'd found treasure.

Of course, once I put in in my VCR, I was very disappointed. Although "Hearts and Armour" promised lots of former "Charlie's Angels" star Tanya Roberts (who shows more than she ought to if you watch carefully), I wasn't so keen on Barbara De Rossi, the terrible dubbing, or the really jarring editing. Allegedly, "Hearts and Armour" was cut down from an Italian miniseries, but I've found no real evidence of that. Basically, it was a cheap piece of trash designed to cash in on "Excalibur" (1981).

Nearly thirty years on, I can't say that I've grown to love "Hearts and Armour". It's still horrible, Bradamante (Barbara De Rossi) looks very uncomfortable in her suit of armour, and the fight scenes are ridiculous. There are some nice gory bits with dismembered limbs flying about in the battles, but this isn't really my kind of thing at all. As much as I can appreciate the work that went into making the costumes as historically (in)accurate as possible, I couldn't care less about the Crusades.

Barbara De Rossi also played Helietta Canins in "Vampire in Venice" (1988) which is the sequel to the terrible remake of "Nosferatu" starring Klaus Kinski. That's much more my cup of tea although I can't honestly say that she's any better in it than in this. Let's face it, she was cast in these movies because of how she looks rather than for any other reason. Strangely, I don't have any problem with that at all. Barbara De Rossi was quite the hottie back in the day.

Because I don't pay attention to crap, I can't tell you who played any of the knights in "Hearts and Armour" except by grabbing their names from the IMDb. Ronn Moss plays Ruggero (the pony-tailed object of Bradamante's affections), Rick Edwards is Orlando, and Maurizio Nichetti is the scruffy, little magician called Atalante. As for the others, who cares? It's not like they've ever been in anything else anyway.

The cinematography isn't bad despite attempts to ruin it with the panned-and-scanned VHS transfer (as yet there is no DVD available), but the acting is so dreadful and the pacing so slow that the overall atmosphere is one of boredom rather than excitement. I nodded off several times during the epic ordeal of trying to rewatch "Hearts and Armour" and even had to have a proper sleep before my numbed brain would allow me to complete it.

Unintentional laughs are created by the pompousness of the dialogue and the inclusion of a Samurai warrior for no good reason at all other than he's another kind of sword-fighter. Some of the action scenes do indeed liven things up for a few seconds, but "Hearts and Armour" even makes the "Deathstalker" sequels look good in comparison.

If you've never seen "Hearts and Armour", I'm not going to recommend it to you. Just knowing that something this awful exists should be enough to satisfy your curiosity.

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