Theatrical Release: June 28, 1958
Blu Ray Release: March 8, 2016
Director: Richard Fleischer
Review by James Klein
I am unsure how I let this little gem slip by after all my years of movie watching. ow is it that I never saw The Vikings? Thank God for Kino as this robust, fun, non-stop action film is now available on blu ray and is a must for any fan of the genre. Simply put; if you don’t like The Vikings, you don’t like action films.
The Vikings revolves around a small Viking village run by Ragnar (played by Ernest Borgnine who if you are unfamiliar with his work, you are a fucking asshole) who has just come back from plundering English villages that reside by the coast with his gang of Viking warriors. While the film follows the lives of the villagers that Ragnar lives at, they are never portrayed as either good nor bad. What they do is essentially destroy villages and take what they want for themselves and their own families. It is a way of life and they do it for their loved ones, despite what they do to others.
In the small village resides Ragnor’s wild, adopted son Einar (the great Kirk Douglas) who has a disagreement with slave Eric (Tony Curtis, another legendary actor and best known for Some Like It Hot and Bad News Bears Go to Japan) who may or may not be the heir to the King of England who was betrayed and murdered by his brother Aella (Frank Thring from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). Eric is the cause of Einar’s loss of his eyeball in a bloody moment that was pretty nasty for a film made in 1958. Instead of killing him, Einar makes Eric his personal slave until Eric joins forces with the kidnapped Queen Morgana (Janet Leigh from Psycho and also Tony Curtis’s then-wife) who work together to not only free themselves from the Vikings but also from the King’s reign.
The Vikings is pretty much an all out war film between the noblemen and the brutish Vikings. There are plenty of battle scenes to make action fans drool. Even moments with the Vikings playing games with axes or running across their ship’s ores is entertaining and fun. And under the direction of Fleischer who is no stranger to action as he is the man who gave audiences 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Mr. Majestyk, the scenes are shot beautifully and done in plenty of long shots, allowing the viewers to actually see the action unfold. No quick editing and silly close ups here kiddies! This is old school film making at its finest which unfortunately is now dead in our modern era of superhero dreck and Fast and the Furious sequels.
It looks to me that the actors were having a lot of fun playing dress-up and fighting one another with swords; Douglas is especially gleeful as the crazed Einar who reluctantly must work with his nemesis Eric to conquer a greater evil until the final conflict between the two men. If I have to complain about anything, I would say the prologue takes a bit too long in setting up the story and the cheap, silly looking credits seem out of place. But these are very minor complaints as I loved this film and was really entertained by the entire movie.
Gorgeously shot in 2;35:1, this HD presentation looks wonderful with film grain remaining intact but with a gloriously bright and crystal clear presentation. Colors are bright (look at the red blood in the eyeball sequence as it drips through Douglas’s fingers) and vibrant – no complaints here. This is a hell of a good looking disc. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix works just fine and dialog can be heard without any issues. For a big action film, an option of a 5.1 surround presentation is always welcomed but I guess that’s not necessary given the film was never presented that way.
The only special feature here aside from the theatrical trailer is a 30 minute interview with a very old Fleischer from 2002 discussing the making of the film as still photographs of the production is shown. This is neat to see and I couldn’t help but think if Jamie Lee Curtis was conceived during the making of The Vikings.
The Vikings is not for women. It’s not for pussies. This movie has brass balls and should be in every man’s blu ray collection.
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