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The famous Swedish Karoliner army has suffered its biggest defeat ever at Poltava in 1709. The Swedish king Karl XII is waiting in the small village of Bender for the Turkish sulton to help him defeat his arch enemy, the czar of Russia, Peter the Great. But the Turks think he's an expensive guest and want him out of Turkey. However, he refuses. The sultan then decides to send Karl XII a princess to marry him, to get him out of the country (a bride for a bribe). The two Swedish soldiers Lagercrona and Kruus are to escort the princess. They experience many different adventures on their way to Bender, namely because other Swedish soldiers and agents try to stop them from ever reaching the village, because they don't want Karl XII to leave Turkey. After their long adventure to get there and a few misunderstandings, the famous "kalabalik" of Bender, where the Turks decide to drive Karl XII out of Turkey by force, begins. Written by
Anders E Lundin
Swedish adventure-comedy that's neither funny nor exciting - a sad shipwreck of grand proportions!
This Swedish adventure-comedy had nasty long-time rumors of being a turkey that even the audience shunned at the box office. As it finally came my way on TV the other week, I found out the hard way that those rumors unfortunately were true. When I rate movies, I genuinely try to pass rather than fail them. *Sigh*... this time it was impossible, since what can you say about an adventure-comedy that's neither exciting nor funny? Wait - add sub-par technical qualities, abysmal storytelling and editing plus miscasting! Then you have a shipwreck of pretty grand proportions in Swedish cinema history.
The story: In the year 1713, Swedish king Karl XII is hiding in Turkey (how's that for a coincidence on its quality!?) after a disastrous defeat against the Russian army. Having worn out his welcome, the Turkish ruler hatches a plan to throw him out: send a young princess to marry him! However, to thwart the plan and stop the caravan, a handful of Swedish royal schemers appoint the two most unfit, bumbling army buffoons they can find, to escort the princess...
That set-up isn't bad at all. There's a big-name cast. A renowned director. It's just that... the result is one big incompetent mess! The tone is weirdly off from the start as we're not sure whether it's a plain spoof or an action-adventure á la Indiana Jones with comical touches. Apart from the above mentioned technical inadequacy (the lighting and framing is sometimes terrible!) it's clumsy, clunky and so embarrassingly amateurish and unfunny that it had me feeling sorry for it in the same way you feel sorry for kids who cannot act in an elementary-grade school play. Characters pop in and out, scenes just pile up and have awful, jumpy transitions, while others feel like outright failed takes... but were included anyway!
Lasse Åberg in the sort-of lead is a beloved comedian/actor/filmmaker in his own right. But here he is HORRIBLY miscast/misdirected - acting stiffer than a flagpole, he reads his lines as if they were cake recipes. Gösta Ekman as Karl XII stumbles, farts and has a VERY strange monologue in bed where it's unclear if he's supposed to be drunk or just going insane. The princess bursts into oriental song by the campfire in one of the most uncalled-for musical moments I can recall. And HOW on earth did Genghis Khan end up here - six CENTURIES off the mark?! For Swedes to smirk at momentarily, there are a few in-jokes on crayfish-eating vs. the origin of the "kåldolme" and a scene where Sven Melander translates a foul attempt at selling off the famous, sunken royal Vasa ship, into German.
But at that point, it's too late - like the Vasa, this truly sad ship is already a sunken wreck with broken cargo and a keelhauled crew. A painful, excruciating watch that nobody involved escapes from unscathed. It also manages to shove a final insult in my face: The end credits, which tell us that what we just sat through was the BUILD-UP to the famous turmoil in Bender - not the title event in itself, which occurs afterward! Say whaaat?
2/10 from Ozjeppe.
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