THE ARCHER: FUGITIVE FROM THE EMPIRE (1981)
Directed by Nicholas Corea
Featuring Lane Caudell, Belinda Bauer, Victor Campos
What it is: Epic fantasy, TV-Movie style
Several tribes band together to do battle with an empire run by a magician with a band of snake men. When the tribes are betrayed, the leader's son becomes a fugitive, inherits a powerful bow, and sets out on a quest to seek a magician who can help him.
This is an unsold TV pilot, and knowing this about any movie potentially gives you a warning, to wit - there's a strong possibility that some major plot element will remain unresolved so that the series it would have spawned would have somewhere to go. Unfortunately, that usually means that the movie by itself will inevitably be a little disappointing because it will feel incomplete. Given this, there are parts of this one I quite like; TV rarely tried for epic fantasy in those days, and this one has some nice flavor, a sense of humor, and the requisite sense of wonder, even if it is sometimes cheaply done. On the down side, there's a certain problem inherent to the whole genre of epic fantasy; it's so full of standard plots and cliched situations that if you don't have some specific element that sets it apart from the many examples out there, you run the risk of doing little more than walking through overly familiar territory. And, sadly, that's the problem here; there's nothing to really set this one apart or make it special. Other than that, its main problem might be that there's some truly monumentally bad over-acting from time to time; the movie is strewed with chewed scenery. In short, it has its joys, but it's nothing special.