• Sword And The Claw, The

    Released by: AGFA
    Released on: January 23rd, 2018.
    Director: Natuk Baytan
    Cast: Cüneyt Arkin, Bahar Erdeniz, Barbara Lake
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    The Sword And The Claw, known as Kiliç Aslan and released on video years ago as Lion Man, was directed by Natuk Baytan in 1975. When the film begins, a bad guy named Anton kills a king named Solomon (Cüneyt Arkin) by cutting his arms off and sends his wife, Princess Almunia, into hiding where she delivers a baby boy and then promptly drops dead, much to the dismay of Rostin, one of Solomon’s assistants who was kind enough to help her escape.

    This boy is raised by a pride of lions and grows up to be quite a ferocious warrior. Rostin is waiting patiently for a savior to arrive, a man with a birthmark on his shoulder that matches the one that Solomon had. The man knows that this will indicate that the bearer of the tattoo is Solomon’s descendent and the right man to take Anton out of the picture. Obviously the boy, now a rugged, handsome man (Cüneyt Arkin again) -a Lion Man, if you will - is that descendent. As his fighting skills become deadlier, he gets into a relationship with a hot chick who has a delightful aversion to bras, but of course, when Anton and his crew learn about his existence, it’s all out war. When our hero has his hands burnt to a crisp, he coerces an ally into building him claws of iron, which he then uses to kill a bunch of bad guys, climb walls and basically just save the day.

    “Blood and Guts Action From Start to Finish!”

    Quickly paced and chock full of rampant jumping (so much jumping!) and highlighted by some delightfully absurd English dubbing and a completely out of place classical music score, The Sword And The Claw is pretty zany stuff. At times it feels like a Monty Python movie, what with the over the top shenanigans and quirky, medieval setting, but it’s all played completely straight. The movie doesn’t appear to have a sense of humor, even when we’re watching Arkin make the same jump three times in a row or even when he’s raking his metal claws down various bad guys’ faces and grimacing straight into the camera. Irony, it would appear, is not a strong point in Turkish cinema of the era.

    But you know what? The whole thing is a blast. Yeah sure, the dialogue is absurd, the fight scenes ridiculous and the costumes about as goofy as they come but the movie has heart and that counts for a lot. Even if Lion Man doesn’t get his claws until the last fifteen minutes of the film, it doesn’t matter because there’s so much ‘other stuff’ going on here – palace intrigue, kidnappings, people running around in a swamp, random tree attacks – that you won’t be bored. You’ve got to admire Natuk Baytan’s tenacity. It’s clear that a modest budget wasn’t going to keep him down, he was going to entertain and damn it, he succeeded. The fact that Cüneyt Arkin, a familiar face to anyone even remotely familiar with Turkish genre films of the seventies (he was the male lead in Turkish Star Wars, to name only one of his many credits!), plays the lead doesn’t hurt things either. He scowls and slashes his way through the bad guys dressed kind of like a pirate – he has no need for buttons on his shirt! – and he’s an absolute blast to watch. Worth seeing for the sheer number of rampant face slashings!

    The film spawned a sequel in 1979 entitled Lion Man II: The Witchqueen, but neither Baytan nor Arkin were involved with it.


    The Sword And The Claw arrives on Blu-ray from AGFA framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a new 4k scan of the only know surviving 35mm elements. Print damage is constant throughout but the disc is well authored and shows pretty nice colors for the most part. There are no obvious compression artifacts nor are there any issues with edge enhancement or noise reduction. As such, this is a filmic presentation, the image looks like the tattered and worn print that it was mastered from. Videophiles might be irked about this, but those with an interest in cinematic oddities and Turkish cult films should certainly appreciate what AGFA has been able to accomplish here. Compared to the lousy VHS rips that have made the rounds over the years, this is a pretty massive improvement (thought it does look like the title card used in the opening of the film has been recreated).

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is about on par with the video, in that it’s imperfect but the best we’re likely to get unless better elements materialize. As such, you can expect some hiss here and there, the occasional pop as well. The levels are well balanced, however, and the dialogue is easy enough to follow. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    The biggest extra on the disc is the inclusion of a second feature film in the form of Brawl Busters (also known as Dragon From Shaolin) presented in 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition in a transfer taken from a 2k scan of a 35mm print and again presented in English language DTS-HD Mono. It’s in similar shape to the feature attraction – print damage is constant, but it’s watchable enough. Optional English subtitles are included, though there are some wonky typos here that are a little confusing.

    As to the movie itself, it follows Kow Ling Yen as she hunts down the four members of the Tung-Cheng Clan. Why? Because when she was much younger they murdered her parents and how that she’s a formidable martial artist, she’s decided to get her revenge. When she takes out She-Ya and his son She- Hao first, Gen-Who gets nervous and hires ‘Robin Hood Woman’ to protect him, unaware that his new bodyguard is none other than Kow herself! When her cover is blown, things get tricky and soon enough, a mysterious warrior shows up, just in time to settle his own score with Gen-Who!

    Promotional materials for this tout the presence one Black Jack Chan as the star of this one, but just who exactly Black Jack Chan is would seem to remain a mystery. The plot here is all over the place, characters pop in and out without proper introductions, plot threads remain unresolved… the whole thing feels like a bunch of fight scenes just sort of tacked together, but it’s entertaining enough in its own kooky way. Clearly made fast and cheap, the props, weapons and outfits fail to convince but the screwy English dubbing adds plenty of unintentional humor to the proceedings. The fight scenes are plentiful, if not exactly good or even close to believable, but

    Aside from that, we get a fight film trailer reel that includes spots for the Super Argo movies and some other assorted cinematic oddities from the AGFA vaults, menus and chapter selection. It’s also worth noting that the reversible cover art features a pretty cool double feature poster promoting the shared theatrical run of the two films included on this release.

    The Final Word:

    The Sword And The Claw is an absolute blast and the very fact that it exists on Blu-ray at all is reason enough to celebrate, never mind the fact that it’s presented in more than watchable shape and with a genuinely entertaining second feature. See it for all the face ripping and jumping! So much jumping!!!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Mark C.'s Avatar
      Mark C. -
      Nice review Ian, looking forward to this one.
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      AGFA takes it all in 2017!