Malaysia, the second half of 1800. The English Queen Victoria owns the domain of the eastern lands of Borneo, commanded by Lord James Guillonk, fierce and ruthless conqueror, father of the ...
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Malaysia, the second half of 1800. The English Queen Victoria owns the domain of the eastern lands of Borneo, commanded by Lord James Guillonk, fierce and ruthless conqueror, father of the beautiful Marianna Guillon, nicknamed "the Pearl of Labuan". The brave Sandokan a young Indian prince, who as a child lost his kingdom because of the English Invasion. He is now the captain of a den of pirates who make constantly attacks against the British army.
The series Sandokan, which fictionally took place in the jungles of Sabah, Borneo, was filmed in the Malaysian Province of Terengannu, including Kapas Island, a small tropical island with palm fringed white sand beaches and dense jungles across the town of Marang. See more »
To begin with, I recall catching a re-run of this on Italian TV as a kid (apart from an earlier cinematic adventure featuring the titular character as incarnated by popular muscle-man Steve Reeves). Incidentally, I had recently rewatched the big-screen follow-up to the serial under review called THE BLACK PIRATE (1976) which I enjoyed quite a bit, and was actually reminded of this one even back then. Besides, a reduction of SANDOKAN which was released to theaters under the lengthy title LA TIGRE E' ANCORA VIVA: SANDOKAN ALLA RISCOSSA! has just been shown on Italian TV: I taped it but, knowing the serial was readily available for rental on DVD, I opted to watch the entire thing (I had intended to check out the film as a companion piece but, being currently swarmed by titles on various formats, I thought better of leaving this for another day!).
While somewhat leisurely-paced, SANDOKAN is never boring; its classical serial structure makes for sheer old-fashioned fun, with good action sequences (director Sollima had cut his teeth on Spaghetti Westerns and Gangster flicks) and a rousing score by the De Angelis brothers (several variations on the main theme are heard throughout). It also maintains a nice balance between literariness, local color, and the thrilling/romantic requirements of the genre and is very well cast besides: Kabir Bedi (at once dashing and commanding in his signature role), Carol Andre' (one of Euro-Cult's loveliest starlets), Adolfo Celi (making for a formidable villain) and, especially, Philippe Leroy (as Sandokan's witty but resourceful sidekick).
With respect to the quality of the Yamato DVD edition I watched, it's not as bad as comments by disgruntled fans on the 'Net had led me to believe (for the record, the serial is also available as a 3-Disc Set from a different label); I do have one qualm, though, about the decision to use the reduced English credits (but, then, the originals are available as part of the bonus features). The latter includes a biography of the character's creator, Emilio Salgari: I was surprised to learn that he led a short and tragic life, but also that a later exotic serial I had watched and in which Bedi was featured called THE MYSTERIES OF THE DARK JUNGLE (1991) was based on his work.
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