Year of Release: 1963
Genre: Action / Adventure
Rating: PG for violence and adult themes.
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Starring: Yul Brynner, George Chakiris, Shirley Anne Field, Richard Basehart, Brad Dexter, Barry Morse, Armando Silvestre
Date Of Review: April 2008
Two Academy Award winning actors go head to head in this gripping action adventure about ancient civilizations and clashing cultures. Hot off the success of “West Side Story”, George Chakiris finds himself donning a Myan toga to play a naïve young King, while Yul Brynner, still riding a wave after his success with “The King And I”, strips down to nothing more than a loin-cloth to play a Native American chief. In this revealing role as a noble Indian, Brynner proves he is in top physical shape and exudes confidence in every scene. Brynner certainly has panache for picking his roles and his strong screen presence shines, particularly in larger than life roles such as this. One thing that “Kings Of The Sun” has going for it is its cast. Chakiris and Brynner are great in the leads, while there is certainly no shortage of talented actors in support with Richard Basehart (TV’s “Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea”), Brad Dexter (“The Magnificent Seven”) and Shirley Anne Field (“The War Lover”) rounding out the stellar supporting cast.
This breathtaking film about Myan civilizations and Indians in Central America will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the very end. After being attacked by an enemy army, King Balam (George Chakiris) flees Mexico and leads his people across the ocean to a new land only to discover that he is now confronted by a new enemy in the form of Black Eagle (Yul Brynner) and his tribesman. According to Black Eagle, the Myan’s are “Strange people with strange boats”. When Black Eagle sets out to capture King Balam his attempt backfires and he becomes captured instead. During his capture, Black Eagle and King Balam develop a mutual respect for each other and to complicate matters a love triangle emerges when Balam’s woman (Shirley Anne Field) is asked to tend to Black Eagle’s wounds. Tensions mount further when King Balam is advised to use Black Eagle as the next human sacrifice. Will King Balam defy tradition and allow Black Eagle to live? Can Black Eagle convince his tribe to curb their instincts for war? Will the two civilizations band together to fight a common enemy? Who will survive in the climactic confrontations? Let’s just say the finale is action-packed and hits an emotional chord that lifts the film above mediocrity.
“Kings Of The Sun” is a unique motion picture experience, it may not be the most well-known film of its type but it is nevertheless something of a minor epic. With its exceptional cinematography, fine performances, great costumes and terrific use of real locations in Mexico, the film proves to be a visual feast. The powerful Elmer Bernstein score also helps move things along, heightening the tension when required and elevating the film during its dramatic moments. The film’s human drama builds up to a worthy climax that includes an elaborate battle sequence and a powerful epilogue. There are not many film’s one can think of that are like “Kings Of The Sun”, but in an uncanny way the film may remind you of films such as “Rapa Nui” (1994), “Apocalypto” (2006) or even “10,000 BC” (2008). In its own way, “Kings Of The Sun” is a real oddity for a Hollywood production, this multi-faceted spectacle succeeds in taking you to another time and place while making you believe that the strong human drama is unfolding before you.
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If you like "Kings Of The Sun" you should also enjoy "Apocalypto" - Now Available on DVD:
Apocalypto (2006) [DVD]
Director/co-writer Mel Gibson's epic, set in pre-Columbian Central America, depicts the collapse of the Mayan civilization through the eyes of a young warrior (Rudy Youngblood), who escapes capture after an invading tribe decimates his village. Attempting to return to his family during a treacherous journey, he passes through a crucible of brutal violence while surrounding events portend his people's ultimate doom. Dalia Hernandez, Jonathan Brewer also star. 138 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: Mayan DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; audio commentary by Gibson; deleted scene; "making of" documentary. In Mayan with English subtitles.
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