Just the other day I was thinking "Boy, I'd sure like to see a movie about Vikings fighting monsters. And if it had an Arab in it, that would be great." Lucky me; the 13th Warrior was at the rental store.
Antonio Banderas is Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, a poet who is made an ambassador when his affections fall on the wrong woman. He meets up with a gang of Vikings, filthy, rowdy, hearty men who enjoy a good fight. A stranger visits their camp, pleading for help fighting off the monsters invading his village. The Vikings bring in an old sooth sayer, who tosses some bones, says some sooths, and declares that exactly thirteen men must go. For some reason that's never explained, one of them must not be a Norseman. Twelve Vikings step forward to volunteer, and Ahmed, the only non-Viking in the crowd, agrees to join them.
The dirty baker's dozen heads for the troubled village to rescue the hapless inhabitants. Ahmed is accepted by his new friends fairly quickly, but they do nothing to make things easier for him. When he complains to Herger that the sword he's been given is too heavy, Herger laughs and offers the helpful suggestion "Grow Stronger!"
This isn't a deep movie with six layers of meaning - it's a silly popcorn movie with lots of hacking and slashing and fighting in the days when a pointed stick was a pretty useful weapon. Although some of the scenes are more murky than necessary, and the subplots are thin and silly, it never insults your intelligence or pretends to be more than it is. If you're in the mood for some mindless, muddy warfare, you'll find this is a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half.
© 2000 Dave Hitt
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