Directed By: Ratno Timoer
Starring: Barry Prima, Gudi Sintara, Advent Bangun
Tag line: "Sex, Savagery, and Mystical Martial Arts. An Astounding Voyage into the Unknown"
Trivia: In France this film was released as Queen of the Crocodiles
Moments after popping in the DVD for 1984’s The Devil’s Sword and hitting the ‘play’ button, I found myself mesmerized by the colorful, almost psychedelic logo of Rapi Films, the company behind this movie’s production. Struck with a sudden desire to know more about Rapi, I hit ‘pause’, sat down at my laptop, and did a quick Google search.
Founded in 1968, Rapi is an Indonesian production house that, over the years, has turned out a large number of exploitation and horror titles, a few of which achieved international success (primarily those released in the 1980s). Today, Rapi focuses more on television, but still make the odd feature film from time to time (their Wikipedia page, which may not have been updated in a while, lists 2011’s My Blackberry Girlfriend as their most recent movie).
I can’t remember the last time a company’s logo inspired such curiosity, and it had me chomping at the bit to see what other treasures were hidden inside The Devil’s Sword. As it turns out, there were too many to count!
The warrior hero Mandala (Barry Prima) is sent on a mission to find the fabled Devil’s Sword. He must hurry, though, because four arch-criminals are also looking for it, one of whom, Banyujaga (Advent Bangun), plans to turn the sword over to the insatiable Crocodile Queen (Gudhi Sintara), the ruler of an underground realm who collects husbands on the side (she has about 8 of them). Mandala realizes that if the sword falls into the wrong hands, it could mean the end of the world. But is he strong enough to defeat his enemies, or will Banyujaga and the Crocodile Queen win out in the end?
This is just scratching the surface of what happens over the course of The Devil’s Sword, a wild and raucous sword and sorcery / martial arts mash-up the likes of which I have never seen before. Even by ‘80s fantasy standards, this movie is batshit crazy (there are sequences so incredibly insane that, by comparison, they make 1982’s Conan the Barbarian look like Kramer vs. Kramer). Take, for instance, the film’s main subplot: the Crocodile Queen’s abduction of a groom on his wedding day. He was about to marry a local Princess (Enny Christina), but the Queen ordered Banyujaga to visit the village, stop the ceremony, and retrieve the groom by any means necessary.
Anxious to please his Queen, Banyujaga hops on the nearest rock and rides it across the sky (yes, the rock flies) until he reaches his destination. Naturally, the villagers try to stop him from completing his mission, leading to a major battle in which a good many people lose their heads (literally). Then, just when you think it can’t get any crazier, a half-dozen crocodile men, the Queen’s personal minions, leap out of the dust to help Banyujaga! Combining martial arts and magic with Z-grade special effects, this entire sequence is gloriously bizarre, and sets the stage perfectly for the madness yet to come.
Jam-packed with mythical heroes, evil witches, magical weapons (including one that was obviously inspired by Master of the Flying Guillotine), and even a little sex (like I said, the Crocodile Queen is insatiable), The Devil’s Sword is guaranteed to blow your mind.