Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LadyHawke (1985)

I've been meaning to do this review for quite some time now. I was inspired to revisit this movie after I heard an interview with Rutger Hauer on Movie Geeks United about his new autobiography, All those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Bladerunners (review to come). I'm a huge Hauer fan, originally for his performance in Blind Fury and then later for his pure badassery in Bladerunner. He's amazing, and I love him...

In any case, this review is about the classic fantasy-action film Ladyhawke, starring Rutger Hauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Matthew Broderick. It's a pretty epic tale. The story goes like this:

Captain Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer) was once the captain of the guard at Aquila. But when the powerful Bishop of Aquila finds that Navarra and Lady Isabeau d'Anjou (Michelle Pfeiffer) are in love, he curses them in a jealous rage. Navarre and Isabeau escape from Aquila, but not from the Bishop's curse, which changes Navarre into a wolf by night and Isabeau into a hawk by day. The two wonder the country as forsaken lovers until they happen upon Phillipe Gaston (Matthew Broderick), the Mouse who is himself on the run after escaping from the dungeons of Alquila. Navarre forces Phillipe to lead them into Alquila so that he might exact his revenge upon the Bishop. Along the way, Phillipe and the cursed duo become friends. In the end, with the help of the monk who betrayed Navarre and Isabeau to the Bishop, the Bishop's curse is broken and the Bishop gets his just deserves. Fin.

Classic, right? I love it. The metaphors are unmistakable: Navarre who is human by day wears only black. Isabeau, woman by night, wears only white. It's a clear-cut story of good and evil. Simple, but effective. I particularly like the role that Broderick plays in this movie. At first, he is depcited as a crafty thief with little to no courage, and even less loyalty. But by the end, the Mouse takes on the role of a kind of relationship broker for Navarre and Isabeau, whose relationship is suffering under the burden of the curse. He uses his wit and talent as a liar to convince Navarre that their love is worth saving, as opposed to killing the Bishop and in essence, giving up hope.

There are also some pretty good fight scenes here. The first time we meet Navarre, he takes down about 50 (or maybe five) of the guards from Alquila, including the new captain. But before he fights them, one of the guards recognizes Navarre, and is still loyal to his old captain. Before he has a chance to greet Navarre, however, the new captain of the guard pushes him onto Navarre's gigantic sword. Ouch. But nice move.

Also, the Bishop goes down really hard, which I like. Imagine William Wallace's sword, and then imagine it being thrown like a spear and pinning a frailed old clergyman against the wall. That's basically what happens. Kind of like when Azim kills the witch in Robin Hood (By the by, I'm pretty sure that Kevin Reynolds watched this movie on repeat for about a month before he made Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, because the influence is unmistakable. The only thing he didn't steal was the awesome soundtrack, opting for a steaming pile of dog poo instead). 

Speaking of the soundtrack, get this, Ladyhawke actually was nominated for two (count 'em) Oscars! Both were sound related, which is hilarious given the intensely 80's techno soundtrack. No joke, it sounds like the theme music to Cutman's level in Megaman. Seriously, awesome.

As an added bonus, you get to see Alfred Molina (i.e. Doctor Octopus) get his head stuck in a wolf trap, literally.

Overall, I would say it's a must see. Especially if you are a Rutger Hauer fan.

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