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As Entertainment, Damn Near the "Perfect" Movie
cchase14 November 2000
As a former video store employee, I am proud to say of all the films I ever recommended, LADYHAWKE came back with all favorable reviews, and not once did anyone I rented it to take me up on my "money-back" guarantee.

No surprises there. Despite the production's troubled history between two studios (Fox and Warner's) and endless rewrites by an army of scribes, it still finds everyone involved at the top of their game, and early into most of their careers!

Rutger Hauer's bad guys were always more interesting and charismatic than his good ones, but his role as Captain Etienne Navarre was the noteable exception. In the best shape of his career both physically and artistically (with the exception of BLADE RUNNER'S Roy Batty), he painted the perfect portrait of noble hubris, tinged with the ache of unfulfilled love for his fair maiden, and the sorrow of an eternal curse that could never be lifted. Even Errol Flynn would've been envious.

Michelle Pfeiffer has been many things in her career: earthy, sensual, campy, courageous, but she would never achieve the combination of radiant strength and vulnerability that she did as Isabeau D'Anjou. There have been other actresses who have looked better and given deeper, more nuanced performances since hers...but it's a REAL short list.

When I saw the previews, I was pretty sure that the main thing I would like the least about this movie was Matthew Broderick, whose Philippe "The Mouse" Gaston was a character I was pretty sure would grate on my nerves. And for the first part of the film, he definitely does. Credit it to Matthew's likeability and talent that before the film's end, though, you're rooting for him as much as for the two leads.

And let's not forget an extremely impressive supporting cast: John Wood (WAR GAMES and JUMPING JACK FLASH), Leo McKern (the OMEN films and PBS' "Rumpole of the Bailey"), Alfred Molina (PRICK UP YOUR EARS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and the TV series THE LADIES' MAN) and a wicked turn by Ken Hutchison as Navarre's nemesis.

For the couple, the friends or the family who want action AND romance, too, you can't do better, (and can always do worse.) And as far as the "music" controversy is concerned, I am a longtime fan of Andrew Powell's work back from his early days with Alan Parsons, and later with The Project, and I thought that the juxtaposition of the contemporary music with the medieval setting worked perfectly. This is, after all, a fantasy, not a historical record of true events! Enjoy it for what it is!
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Different, Appealing Fantasy-Romance
ccthemovieman-124 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I found this to be one of more likable medieval (13th century) fantasy movies I've ever seen. It works because of the great mixture of action, beautiful photography, likable lead characters, humor, touching romance, suspense and no offensive language. Yes, here is an adult film that everyone can watch, and that' no cliché.

Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer are handsome leads but Matthew Broderick, as "Phillipe Gaston," is the star of the show. He provides the humor and is involved in almost every scene.

There is a lot of "religion" in here, both shown positively and negatively. Broderick's character acknowledges God and constantly talks to Him. Hauer refers to Him, too, but Broderick is the talker. However, here is yet another case of a French Catholic clergyman being the evil "bad guy." (Is one ever shown in a positive light?) John Wood effectively plays the nasty " Bishop of Aqulia."

This is a "curse" story about two humans who turn into hawk (Pfeiffer) and wolf (Hauer) by day/night never seeming to be human at the same time so they can be lovers and live happily ever after.

It's interesting all the way, with my only suggestion that it could have been a "10" had it been chopped about 15-20 minutes in length.

Overall, though, a solid film and one that has been enjoyed by everyone I know who has seen it.
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One of my all-time FAVORITE movies
Barb-2011 September 2005
What a great story. This has been one of my favorite movies since it first came out. (I saw it with my best friend, who had a crush on Matthew Broderick.) Anyway, it's a very stirring, timeless (except for the music) story of love, heartache, hope and redemption. Wonderful.

Rutger Hauer is amazing. Strong, even frightening at times, but still tender and vulnerable. Of course Michelle Pfeiffer is at her absolute most beautiful. She really does seem to possess "the face of love" as Phillipe says. But Matthew Broderick really makes the movie. He's more than just comic relief (although he is hilarious); he keeps the story grounded. Without the character of Philippe the movie would be too ethereal, untethered. Philippe is the everyman--our connection to the magical beauty of Navarre and Isabeau.

I've heard that the story is based on a medieval legend, but I haven't been able to find it. If anyone has a link, please post it as a review on this site; I'd love to read more about it. Thanks!!
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The Hawk, The Wolf and The Thief
Chrysanthepop28 October 2008
Richard Donner's 'Ladyhawke' tells a fascinating tale of cursed love that separates two lovers like day and night (quite literally). What I loved about this film is that even though it's a wonderful mixture of action, adventure, romance and comedy, it is a simple film. The execution is solid and it shows that Donner and his cast and crew have put a lot of heart in the making of the film.

The score is kind of funny. At times there's a beautiful symphony that expresses the beauty of the settings and then, during the action scenes, there's the typical 80's hip track which brings a smile as it nostalgically reminds me of that wild decade. 'Ladyhawke' is indeed very beautiful to look at. The cinematography is superb as it gives a very spacious view and the composition of the shots are very well arranged.

No CGI has been used and that marvelously stands out as it gives the film a purer look and only reminds one of the days before CGI was overused, when cinema looked pure and authentic. 'Ladyhawke' is a fine example of movies that can look great and sometimes even better and more effective without CGI (other examples being the Star Wars trilogy (80's version), Indiana Jones etc).

The performances are topnotch. A radiant Michelle Pfeiffer completely owns the title role. Her understated performance and quiet yet strong presence (like a hawk) brilliantly contrasts Rutger Hauer's wolfish character. Hauer too does a fine job. An evil Alfred Molino is barely recognizable and Leo McKern wears the menacing look very well. John Wood provides some great comic relief. However, it is Matthew Broderick who stands out. He performs naturally as the vivacious, energetic, deceitful thief who loses his heart to Ladyhawke and at the same time he is determined to reunite the lovers and rescue them from the wrath of the curse.

Overall, 'Ladyhawke' is a beautiful movie that satisfied my filmviewing experience. It gives that nostalgic feel, it amuses, it fascinates and it feels enchanting. No wonder it still feels fresh after more than two decades.
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Very good fantasy movie
Teknofobe706 April 2005
Ever since I was a kid, I loved fantasy movies. As a matter of fact, anything with sword fights was great in my book. And since I grew up in the days before Lord of the Rings came along, my favourites were always mid-to-late-eighties fantasy epics like The Princess Bride, Willow, and Ladyhawke.

It's all about an outcast knight and his lover, who have been cursed by an evil bishop to become animals during night and day, so they're never together in human form. He becomes a wolf and she becomes a hawk (hence the title). The knight enlists the help of a young thief to break into the cathedral and take his revenge on the bishop. Aside from the basic premise, it's more of a historical movie than a fantasy movie. There's no magic other than the curse, and no trolls or giants or anything, which was partly the reason I enjoyed it so much.

I've also always loved this movie for it's great storyline and interesting characters. Philipe's conversations with God still amuse me, as does the drunken monk played by Leo McKern ... It comes from director Richard Donner, who of course brought us Superman I & II, the Lethal Weapon movies and so on. This is essentially a well-directed movie, although a lot of people have issues with the choice of soundtrack. It's kind of a techno-poppy thing, which I blame NeverEnding Story for. A lot of eighties fantasy movies went with the same idea, but it works with Ladyhawke better than it works with most others, although I would of course prefer a more conventional and less intrusive score. On the whole, the sets and the props are pretty convincing, although some of the fight sequences aren't particularly great.

Here we have an early Matthew Broderick performance which shows how little his acting skills have developed since. Not that he's a bad actor, just an early bloomer I guess. Cult icon Rutger Hauer, of whom I have always been a huge fan (Blade Runner, The Hitcher, The 10th Kingdom) gives a fantastic performance as the outcast knight, and as we all know it's never a bad idea to have Michelle Pfeiffer in a movie.

You should definitely see this movie if you're a fan of the genre, or of any of the actors involved. It's a wonderful fantasy adventure for all ages.
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An all-time favorite
michellemurmurs624411 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I never pass up a chance to sit through this 80's adventure fantasy. This was made back in the days before Matthew Broderick became famous as Ferris Bueller and before Michelle Pfeiffer was a well-known and respected actress. I believe this was her third or fourth film role in the early days of her career. She is simply stunning as Isabeau, the title character. Rutger Hauer was at the top of his career and was perfectly cast as Navarre the cursed knight/wolf to Pfeiffer's ladyhawke. Matthew Broderick plays Phillip Gaston a pickpocket who becomes first an unwilling accomplice then a loyal ally to the lovers. Others in the cast include the late Leo Mckern as Father Imperius and John Wood as the Bishop of Aquila. It's a beautifully told story about love triumphing over evil. Highly recommended.
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Rutger Hauer .... If only their was a movie of this caliber today.
Hunter-2727 March 2001
Rutegar Hauer shines as Captain Etienne Navarre, a medieval knight and his petite l'amour Michelle Pfeiffer as Isabeau his wonderful Lady Hawk. John Wood plays an utterly nasty Bishop of Aquila. With Mathew Broderick as the little thief and Leo McKern the priest who betrays the two lovers.

This movie stands out for music score, knights and fair ladies in distress, and characters that you can fall in love with. It will have you rooting for the good guys and yelling at the screen for them to vanquish their enemies.

This romantic fantasy is an escape for the real world to a place where love, honor, and courage are rewarded. Where true love is possible, and two people love each other more than life itself. A love like this is almost impossible today.

I adored this film so much that I have three copies of the movie and two of the soundtrack by Alan Parsons Project. I think the background music goes so well with what is happening on the screen. Each of the main characters has their own musical composition, and will make you cheer or cry.
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Beautiful, preposterous, haunting
jminer4 October 2000
The leads are physically beautiful almost beyond film comparison. Their moral-spiritual characters match, which should make the film corny. The plot is preposterous, but the main characters, Isabeau and Gaston, prosecute their roles with such unfailing intensity you can't help but accept the nonsense. What is Ferris Bueller doing in medieval France, though? Perhaps the film needs some salty leavening, and at least he makes the plot work a little more efficiently. Overall, I don't have a rational judgement to make but a purely emotional one: I can never forget this film. It has haunted me since the first time I saw it. And that is all down to the pure intensity of Hauer and Pfeiffer.
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A Great Flick for Guys and Gals!
skyblueangel-11 July 2005
I think this film is a classic. Based on an old, European legend, this movie is one of the best films ever made. The music was a bit distracting and annoying, but the actors were superb. John Wood once again delivers another wonderful villainous performance, while Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeifer play the 'seperated lovers'. Matthew Broderick gives a convincing performance as the Mouse.

It's a great flick that has both romance and action. It's a wonderful movie that both men and women will enjoy. Easy to follow and good special effects (for the '80's).

This movie is one to own!

Bishop: "I believe in miracles, Marquet. It's part of my job."
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Goliath is the star!
closey-115 January 2005
Ladyhawke is one of my favorite movies. I watch it on DVD a couple of times each year and thoroughly enjoy the story every time. The scenery is stunning and I can live with the music even if it is rather overpowering at times. Rutger Hauer is great, Michele Pfeiffer is gorgeous, John Wood is truly evil, Leo McKern, Matthew Broderick and all the villains are good. The grey horse in the cathedral scene is also magnificent - BUT - I just love that wonderful black Fresian horse. All that presence, power, dignity, grace -and the strength, training and courage to carry a fully armored knight into battle. Just what Richard the Lionheart needed when he said 'my kingdom for a horse' ...
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~ A Love Story To Last The Ages ~
Aysen086 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favorites since childhood. Definitely a unique type of love story.

We begin with Phillipe Gaston played by Matthew Broderick, I think one of his better acting jobs, an escapee from the Prison of Aquila, something that has never happened before. However, in his zealous celebration, Phillipe finds himself facing Aquilan guards in the name of the Bishop. He is saved by Captain Etienne Navarre, a former Capt. of the guard for Aquila.

His rescue doesn't come without a price though, Phillipe is told that he will get Navarre back into Aquila in order to kill the Bishop in revenge. Phillipe has little choice but to agree to the task. In his traveling with Navarre, Phillipe discovers an entrancing young woman who always shows up after the sun sets and Navarre disappears.

Phillipe eventually discovers that her name is Isabeau d'Anjou, Navarre's love, and that because of the curse she is Navarre's hawk companion by day and that Navarre turns into a black wolf by night, a punishment put upon them by the Bishop of Aquila because Isabeau did not return his affections.

With the help of Imperius, the monk who betrayed the lovers secret to the Bishop in a fit of drunkenness, Phillipe discovers that a solar eclipse will allow the lovers to confront the Bishop together as man and woman and break the spell forever. They encounter Navarre's stubbornness to the plan and must think of a clever way to help the two lovers.

The story is beautiful, Rutger Hauer & Michelle Pfeiffer put in terrific acting jobs. A terrific story of love conquers all with a twist. The bits of humor thrown in make the characters endearing. Would recommend it any day, but perhaps I'm bias by now. 10/10.
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Great Movie, Lousy Music, Equestrianship Unexcelled
drdos4315 March 2000
This movie, except for the "over-orchestration," deserves critical acclaim, as most of the comments have illustrated. However, no one seems to have addressed another element par excellence....the horses and equestrianship. Only one commentator made a cursory observation that Navarre's mount was a "farm horse." ... not so! That was a Fresian, one of the oldest breed of horse known and the one which the knights of old used for battle....try to train a "farm horse" to prance! Other breeds included the Lipizans, and it was the antagonists who rode them.

If one were to overlook the fine acting, the excellent storyline, the Romance (literary sense), and the romantic which tugs our heart strings in understatement, the appropriate comedy, the breath-taking camera work utilizing almost no special effects (but surpassing just about everything thrust upon us today), a horse-lover would revel in the production.

However, whoever (not the composers) was in charge of allowing the musical score, should have been barbecued at the stake for ruining an almost flawless classic. Never the less, this movie should not be missed...It will leave you in awe and wonder.

Marvin Cohn
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Stunning beauty - Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfieffer,
cjgillis23 March 2001
Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfieffer stunned me with their beauty when I first saw "Ladyhawke", a poignant vision of medieval love and longing. This visually-beautiful tale's cinematographers had filmed their hands, hair, and skin through dappled sunlight and shadows to emphasize their unearthly beauty. Matthew Broderick and Leo MacKern gave this magical story its humanity. Some reviewers have disparaged its musical score by Vangelis. I've always felt that it fit the mood and setting of the film. Rousing sword fights. One of my favorite movies of all time.
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Lavish and glamorous medieval fantasy in which Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer are cursed for eternity
ma-cortes13 January 2014
This wonderful flick deals with marvelous adventures about star-crossed lovers caught in an nasty spell . The movie is set in the south of France and, based on certain astronomical events that occur, can be dated to 1239 . Philipe Gastone (Matthew Broderick , though he seem better suited to a teen film) , a wisecracking thief , nicknamed the ¨Mouse¨ escapes from the dungeon at Aquila, sparking a manhunt led by officer Marquet (Ken Hutchison) . As a crafty young pickpocket stole his way out of a tyrant's dungeon and plunged into an adventure beyond even his own wildest imaginings . He is nearly captured when Captain Navarre (Rutger Hauer , though Richard Donner originally wanted to cast Kurt Russell , when Russell dropped out a few days before began, the part was handed to Hauer) riding his horse named Goliath saves him . Stalwart Navarre is condemned by an evil curse in which he and a gorgeous maid (Michelle Pfeiffer is perfectly cast as a pretty heroine) are lovers but separated by night and day . No power on Earth can save them , no force in Heaven will release them . The young along with a priest (Leo McKern) help the protagonists in their quest to break the spell by destroying its creator , a villain bishop (John Wood) . As both of whom become their unlike allied .

Imaginative as well as lush fantasy about a weird curse in which our heroes take on several adventures and dangers . This is an imaginative , glamorous , strange fantasy based on the wonderful adventures by a group of heroes against an evil bishop . Fantastic film contains sense of adventure , thrills , and lots of imagination . From start to finish fantasy , action , duels and delightful adventures are interminable . Exciting and interesting screenplay by Michael Thomas , Tom Mankiewicz and David Webb based on a story by Edward Khmara . Edward Khmara took the issue to the Writers Guild Association and was awarded a cash settlement from Warners, but the medieval legend claim wasn't dropped ; and Warner Brothers falsely marketed the movie as being based on a true medieval legend . As this is a mysterious as well as intriguing seven-hundred-year-old legend of horror and love . Starring a considerable cast of top-names performers such as Rutger Hauer , Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick . Support cast is frankly enjoyable such as Leo McKern as Father Imperius the Monk , John Wood as Bishop of Aquila , Ken Hutchison as Marquet , and Alfred Molina as Cezar . Marvelous special effects are visually stunning , though a little dated , and magnificently realized with no computer generator . Several different hawks were used , one to sit on Rutger Hauer's arm and another for the flying scenes.

Impressive production design by Wolf Kroeger , including luxurious scenarios , filmed on location in Italy , such as Campo Imperatore, L'Aquila, Abruzzo, Castell'Arquato, Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna, Rocca di Calascio, Calascio, L'Aquila , Soncino, Cremona, Lombardia,Torrechiara, Langhirano, Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Catatombe , Rome and three of the castles used for the film were owned by Italian film director Luchino Visconti . Colorful and glimmer cinematography shot in Technovision by Vittorio Storaro , Bernardo Bertolucci's usual cameraman . Anti-climatic though generally entertaining musical score composed by Andrew Powell by means of modern synthesizer ; however sometimes resulting to be effective and agreeable . This big-budgeted , overlong , appreciated film achieved hit at box office and today is very well considered and it will please the young and the young at heart . The movie was compelling and imaginatively directed by Richard Donner . The picture was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, but failed to win either Oscar . ¨Ladyhawke¨ might be described as an extraordinary fantasy full of imagination and color . It's a tale for teens and adults in which entertainment and amusement are guaranteed . Rating : Good , better than average . Worthwhile watching .
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Extremely Agreeable Romantic Actioner With Strong Cast And Intriguing Premise
ShootingShark12 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Navarre and Isabeau are star-crossed lovers who have been cursed by the evil Bishop of Aquila. At dawn, she transforms into a hawk, and at dusk he transforms into a wolf; they can never meet. But when Navarre meets Phillipe Gaston, the only man to ever escape the dungeons of Aquila, perhaps there is a chance to lift this terrible curse …

There's nothing particularly outstanding about this movie, but it scores well because it's strong in every element - good story, first-rate production, great cast, fine score, excellent photography - it's just classy all round. It's also nicely old-fashioned, a bit like an Errol Flynn romantic swashbuckler from the thirties (Captain Blood, say) - the goodies are noble and heroic, and the baddies are evil through and through; there are thrills and spills aplenty, comic interludes, a touching love story, and they all live happily ever after. It may be an old formula but it works rather well, and Edward Khmara's intriguing story sweeps along energetically. There is one potential liability - Broderick - who looks like a Jewish kid from Manhattan transplanted into Europe in the twelfth century. He contrasts sharply with Hauer (who could have stepped right out of the pages of Ivanhoe) but he makes his character work by gaining our sympathy and via all his neat comic asides to his Maker. Hauer is outstanding, and McKern and Hutchison offer strong support, as do the many talented animal actors (there is a particularly tricky scene with a wolf on an ice floe). Equally authentic is the fantastic location photography by the great Vittorio Storaro and production design by Wolf Kroeger (First Blood, Enemy At The Gates). It was all filmed on location in northern Italy - notably at the preserved medieval town of Castell' Arquato in Piacenza province - and looks sensational, with fluid tracking shots of horses thundering across cobblestones and beautifully lit smoky stained-glass interiors. This is one of those enjoyable cosmopolitan movies (American-Italian-British) where the varied backgrounds of the filmmakers contribute to a highly original experience. Last, but not least, there's a pounding symphonic rock score by Andrew Powell which complements the action and sweetens the romance. All in all this a cracking flick, extremely well directed by the talented Donner, and well worth a matinée screening. Trivia - the director and acclaimed producer Lauren Shuler married after making this movie together.
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some films age beautifully
elliott782127 June 2016
Let me start with the bad, the score it doesn't fit the time but I'm sure some studio head thought we need this to appeal to younger audiences of the time. Vittorio Storraro Cinematography is stunning, lush colors, locations, no CGI here my friends. The castles and mountains to the costumes and villages just take you back in time adding to this fine, fun, fantasy. Michelle Pfeiffer youth and beauty, Matthew Brodericks awkwardness are all well played throughout,to be honest he's quite funny. Rutger Hauer has always had mixed success be here his presence is fitting, rent it online or watch it in rerun you won't be disappointed they don't make films like this anymore and when they try so filled with CGI they don't have the organic immersive feeling this Romantic Fantasy Adventure delivers.
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A Beautiful and Unique Movie
H_Spengler8 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Two lovers, betrayed and cursed by a sadistic Bishop travel together through the remote countryside of Europe. They're together, but always apart....she a lady by night and hawk by day, he man by day and wolf at night.

This is a beautiful film, wonderfully written, hauntingly filmed, and great performances all around by the cast. I know the score is a popular debate, you either love it or hate it. I loved it, it's a blend unlike any other i've ever heard and stands out rather than blend in like so many others.

Rutger Hauer gives a powerful and convincing performance as the handsome, brooding, captain of the guards who is cursed, outlawed and hunted, his only crime falling in love with a beautiful woman.

And she is beautiful too, the luminous Michelle Pfeiffer absolutely lights up the screen every scene she appears in. Not only is she beautiful, but also smart, kind and compassionate. Thankfully she's not the typical "damsel in distress" who stands by and does nothing. I was completely sold as to why Hauer would give his very life to protect her. This was the movie that made me a lifelong fan of Pfeiffer.

Matthew Broderick was perfect in the part of Phillipe, it was nice to be able to see him stretch himself in range and play a different kind of role than i'd become accustomed to watching him in. John Wood was excellent as the sadistic Bishop who cursed the couple in his desire for Pfeiffer. I was really convinced of his downright evilness. And last but not least, I really enjoyed Leo McKern, the drunken priest who betrayed the couple to the Bishop. He finds redemption in helping to break the curse and defeat the Bishop. For those who haven't seen it, I don't dare think of giving it away.

Also, an evil little cameo by Alfred Molina, years before most people knew who he was.

As mystical as this movie is it doesn't rely on a whole lot of special effects overwhelming it. (Of course this was before CGI was around.) But still it wisely decides to rely on the emotions and ability of the actors, director and scenery to convey the story.

A really beautiful, soulful, mystical film.
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Do a little dance, make a little love, become a wolf tonight
Leigh L.15 July 2004
It's funny - my two clearest memories of this film were off the mark in completely opposite ways. I remembered Matthew Broderick being deeply annoying; as it turns out he's just mildly irritating. And I remembered the soundtrack being bad; but good God, it's *appalling*. Whoever decided that a tragic, touching supernatural romance would be best accompanied by funky 70s synthesisers (I don't think they're fitting enough to even be classed as 80s) should be forced to eat their own afro. Yes, all of it. I can honestly say I have never heard a less appropriate musical score in my entire life. It's not that it's bad, exactly - it'd probably work pretty well if the lead character was, say, Shaft.

Still, when the crazy disco beats aren't violating the atmosphere, there's some good stuff going on. Richard Donner already had serious directing experience under his belt in 1985, and Ladyhawke is beautifully shot and paced with some gorgeous scenery to take in. There's just enough action (they give it some proper welly in those swordfights), John Wood provides a proper boo-hiss malicious villain, the dialogue never quite slips into melodrama despite teetering on the edge occasionally, and it's always a pleasure to watch Rutger Hauer in one of his few good roles before he degenerated into self-parody. (Well, if we're being honest it's a pleasure to watch him in his godawful recent stuff as well, but for different reasons.) Above all the film's got heart, which is more than you can say for 95% of the cack that Hollywood churns out, and it deserves some small credit for that at least.
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After a few decades, I finally got to watch Ladyhawke and I'm very glad I did!
tavm22 July 2018
After a little more than 30 years of only knowing of this movie, I finally watched this online just now. Matthew Broderick plays a petty thief who escapes the medieval prison-a place that no one had escaped before. The evil bishop isn't happy about that and has his men go after him. But a captain from previous battle manages to save the thief. I'll stop there and just say I very much enjoyed this movie, Broderick is both funny and touching when his character goes through some changes. Rutger Hauer is fine as the captain and Michelle Pfeiffer likewise as his true love. If you haven't seen this movie, I don't want to reveal their dilemma but I will say they deserve each other. Oh, and I also loved Leo McKern as someone who knows the history between Hauer and Pfeiffer and tells it to Broderick's character. Nothing more to say except I highly recommend Ladyhawke.
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fun high adventure
SnoopyStyle2 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Philipe 'The Mouse' Gastone (Matthew Broderick) is a thief. He escapes the dungeons of Aquila through the sewer. The Bishop (John Wood) refuses to accept any escape and sends out Captain Marquet with his guards. When Marquet catches up to Gastone, Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer) comes to the rescue with his hawk. Former captain Navarre and Isabeau d'Anjou (Michelle Pfeiffer) are lovers cursed by the jealous Bishop. He turns into a wolf during the night and she turns into a hawk during the daylight. Navarre plans to kill the Bishop with help from Gastone to sneak into the castle. Monk Imperius gives him a different plan to break the curse. Meanwhile, the Bishop sends Cezar (Alfred Molina) to hunt for the wolf.

Broderick is fun. Hauer is fearsome. Pfeiffer is loverly. I love their interactions. Broderick's time with each side is great. The story is compelling and solid fun high adventure. I saw it in the theater and had fun with the adventure movie. There seems to be some complaints about the synth score in more recent reviews. It does date the movie back to the 80s. Of course, it doesn't fit the medieval time period. It didn't throw me off the story back then. Rather, it amped up the intensity and the joy in the action. It's just fun.
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A Delicate Fairy Tale for Adults
evanston_dad25 December 2014
I wonder how many people sought out the film "Ladyhawke" after reading the sci-fi bestseller "Ready Player One."

In that book, two characters debate the merits of this largely forgotten 1985 fantasy film, one character claiming that it's terrible while the other defends it. I had heard of it but didn't know much about it other than that Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick were in it and that it was nominated for a couple of technical Oscars (Sound and Sound Effects Editing). I was extremely and pleasantly surprised with this movie. It's a beautiful fantasy with a lovely story and just the right amount of self-awareness to know not to take itself too seriously.

Pfeiffer plays one half of a cursed couple who are never allowed to interact with each other as humans; she turns into a hawk at daylight while her lover, played by Rutger Hauer, turns into a wolf during the night. In order to break the curse, they need the help of a hapless crook played by Broderick with a half-assed British accent. (Why the filmmakers decided Broderick needed an accent I don't know, since Hauer and Pfeiffer make no effort to sound anything other than American.) The story has the delicate grace of a fairy tale, and the movie is beautiful to look at, which is not surprising given that acclaimed cinematographer Vittorio Storaro is behind the camera.

My wife and I have been having fun with a little movie project lately, watching a bunch of 1980s films that one or the other (or many times both) of us missed originally. Some have been duds ("Labyrinth") but some have been surprisingly good, and "Ladyhawke" is among those.

Grade: A-
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Definitely a movie for horse lovers.
niotauhuru8 February 2006
I saw "LadyHawke" when I was much younger and fell in love with Friesian horses because of Goliath, Navarre's mount in the movie. I did not know at the time what breed of horse he was. But after seeing pictures of other horses of the same look I soon figured it out. I love the story and own a copy. The story has plenty of action and much pathos between Navarre and Isabeau when they are transforming and have that brief moment when they are both human. One can feel the wrenching of the heart as they again turn into human and animal. The Mouse provides comic relief with his escapades. The riding scenes are spectacular and I can only speculate what it felt like to ride that wonderful horse at a gallop. I would recommend this movie for all audiences.
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cruella_dellamorte11 November 2005
A medieval film with the absolutely extraordinary perfume of magic. Upon the departure, one to the lovers maudits and until the end the suspense sticks or not remains... Arriveront to break the curse which condemns them to be always together but eternally separate? A splendid history, michelle pfeiffer more beautiful than ever, perfect actors. The only "point" which can slightly aggravate they are certain musics (total anachronism... One likes or not) but fortunately, the principal topic is very pleasant that compensates for the few a little heavy musics. A really superb and magic film which will hold you in breath until the end. Film worship
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favorite fantasy movie
wherever12 September 2005
I saw this movie in the theater in 1985 when I was 13 and fell in love with it. I can't believe that was twenty years ago! I own the DVD now. It's not a perfect movie and I think the ending is a bit rough after all the magic that takes place before. But it's a beautiful story with stunning cinematography and good acting. I love Matthew Broderick's turn as Phillipe, he's cute and hilarious. Leo McKern breaks our heart when he tells us Navarre and Isabeau's story of doomed love, as does the pain etched into every line of Rutger Hauer's face. The thing I really like about this movie is despite Phillipe's conversations with God, it's really grounded; unlike other 80's fantasy movies there's an element of reality to it, it really feels like it's medieval setting, shot on location in Italy, with the dirty peasants and even the rich and corrupt Bishop's trappings of wealth are still medieval. The cathedral, the ruined abbey, the peasant's cottage, the dungeons, all feel real, not like movie sets. And the emotion between Isabeau and Navarre, and the sad old drunk, the desperate, lovesick young pickpocket make us feel, is human and real.

The funny thing about the music is that it never bothered me when I watched the movie when I was younger, now it's so cheesy it's almost unbearable. I guess that's the way fads are, they work at the time, but then later on you're like "What were we thinking?" It's very much music of the time which unfortunately dates this otherwise timeless period piece.
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suzy-6011 June 2007
This is a wonderful, wonderful movie.

Yes, there are bad things. The soundtrack I have never liked--the disco part, I mean; the more conventional part of it, with orchestra and authentic music, is truly beautiful. The villain is cheesy (and--surprise surprise--a Churchman). Mouse might have the potential to annoy other watchers--but not me.

As for the story, it's excellent and wholly satisfying. Rutger Hauer turns in a wonderfully nuanced performance as the knight: mysterious and menacing, or kind and noble--yet not quite sane: obsessing about his lost love, and becoming irrationally jealous of Mouse's friendship with her.

Michelle Pfeiffer is breathtakingly beautiful here as the "face of love", vivacious and merry and queenly, just as she should be--neither anachronistically feminist nor totally lacking in gumption, but a very authentic-feeling heroine in the vein of Galadriel or Luthien from Tolkien's tales.

Matthew Broderick is likewise excellent in his role as the story's grubby, cheerful protagonist--again, a very authentic-feeling character, the kind of guy you just know could be found scrounging his way through life in the Middle Ages somewhere. His incessant chatter weighs the other characters' taciturnity well, and he grounds the film in a way no other character could.

The special effects are perfect--a more recent film might try to show off what cool things it can do with pixels, but in this film they are glossed over, and used to great effect only when they are really needed. Action scenes are likewise shot with economy and and grace, and the whole production--dialogue, costumes, sets, fights, and effects--is very low-key, exposing a very simple, very effective, and very touching story.

It is, in fact, a pretty much perfect movie.
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