Rewind...
Rewind...

Ladyhawke

AKA:
 
 
I first saw this on video around '88/'89 when my mom brought home a video she'd hired. Now to the average 13 year old guy, 'Ladyhawke' didn't exactly inspire me as a title - I was going to sulk through this one... or was I?

At the start of the film, petty thief Phillipe Gaston, "The Mouse" (Broderick) is on the run, having sprung himself from the allegedly inescapable "Dungeons of Aquila." An attempt to recapture him on the orders of the Bishop (John Wood) is halted by the entrance of a black knight bearing a hawk, Etien Nevarre.

Navarre (Hauer) is the ex-captain of the Aquilan guards, has been a fugitive for two years and is the general thorn in the Bishop's side. He needs to find a way back into Aquila and has chosen escapee Gaston to lead him there. Needless to say, "Mouse" is a tad reluctant.

Having both escaped the guards the unlikely pair flee into the forests. While gathering wood for a fire, Gaston suddenly hears the cracking of twigs as a wolf slowly stalks him. He takes to his heels, running back to the camp, only to find Navarre gone.

In his panic, Gaston takes Nevarre's crossbow and prepares to fire, but he's suddenly stopped by a beautiful woman. She tells him he's dreaming then walks away with the wolf. Now poor Mouse is spooked as well as reluctant.

The following day sees another run in with their pursuers, resulting in the hawk being wounded by a crossbow. Gaston is forced to take the bird to an old priest named Imperius (McKern), who consequently tries to lock him out of the hawk's infirmary. Gaston sneaks in nevertheless and instead finds the woman he saw before, but with the same wound in her shoulder.

Imperius decides to tell Mouse the sorry tale of the damned couple, of how the Bishop's obsession with Isabeau grew into madness and how she rejected his advances due to her secret betrothal to Navarre. When the Bishop learnt of their eloping, he made a pact with hell, which imbued a terrible curse on the lovers. By day Isabeau is the hawk and by night Nevarre is the wolf.

Imperius has also learnt of a way to beat the curse, by way of a forthcoming eclipse. The curse will be broken as soon as the Bishop sees Navarre and Isabeau standing together, assuming they can get there in time.

As the story unfolds, the three have to contend with the ever pursuing Aquilan guards led by Marquet (Hutchinson) and a fur trapper named Cezar (Melina) who is hired by the Bishop to kill Nevarre in his animal form.

Verdict?

There's no doubt, it's a good yarn and I still watch it at least once or twice a year.

It's balance of fantasy and adventure, with romance and light humour following close behind. Broderick isn't up to the par he is in "Wargames" or "Ferris Bueller"... but he does have some funny lines, as does McKern. Hauer is a good lead as the downbeat fugitive and Pfeiffer is in her Hawk form more than she is human, so she doesn't have that many scenes.

The story wanes a little in the middle when Cezar is hunting the wolf, but that's really only a minor point. On the plus side there is a great scene where Pfeiffer and Hauer end up facing one another as the sun comes up. For just a second they are given a glimpse of each other in their human form.

The fight scenes are done well, particularly when Navarre's battling his way towards the Bishop within the cathedral (he and Marquet are definitely wielding heavy broadswords).

Another thing that's worth mentioning are the sunsets and sunrises which are arguably some of the most beautiful on celluloid.

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Good story without a ton of special effects; a bit of something for everyone.

Weaknesses? Bit slow in the middle and the soundtrack is a bit out of place.

Our rating: 8.5 out of 10


Review Written by Tim Seelig:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Tim Seelig
Ladyhawke