The Sword and the Claw Blu-ray Review

Conan The Barbarian Meets Tarzan Meets The Vikings… In Turkey

From the obscure Turkish exploitation circuit comes The Sword and The Claw. This entertaining gem stars the Turkish Van Damme, genre legend Cüneyt Arkin. The 1975 action-adventure flick is a hoot as directed by the amateurish Natuch Baitan. Part Samson and part Tarzan, Cüneyt Arkin plays the silent but strong Lion Man in this rousing misadventure patterned after The Vikings’ basic story of two brothers raised separately. With inexplicable direction and unintentionally humorous dialogue in the English dub, The Sword and The Claw is excellent fodder for grindhouse nostalgia.

The fast-paced narrative concerns two brothers, sons of the murdered King Solomon, unknowingly as adults ending up on different sides in the warring struggle over his kingdom. This is not the King Solomon of the Bible, but a ruler during the Byzantine Empire. Every son of King Solomon bears a birthmark on their back shoulder. The villainous Antoine overthrows King Solomon, killing him in the process. Antoine unknowingly raises King Solomon’s son, having married King Solomon’s former lover. The other son is taken out of the castle as a baby before Antoine can kill him, ending up raised by lions. He grows into the Lion Man, a fierce warrior with immense strength.

Made along the same lines as the infamous Turkish Star Wars, The Sword and The Claw speaks from a different era of grindhouse films

The Sword and The Claw doesn’t forget to include a bit of romance, having one of the leading female characters end up playing a heel turn that leads to Lion Man’s capture. There are surprisingly brutal scenes included with blood and gore, including two different characters getting their hands either chopped off or melted off.

The Turkish exploitation film is derivative but fun, made all the more entertaining by Baitan’s crude but exuberant direction. Throw in a bizarre English dub and Cüneyt Arkin’s enthusiastic performance to make it complete. Made along the same lines as the infamous Turkish Star Wars, The Sword and The Claw speaks from a different era of grindhouse films, when a movie from somewhere else in the world would play on a Saturday matinee in a dirty theater. Despite its low-budget nature, the production has a bit more class than the usual American b-movie with fairly lavish costumes and copious extras filling in for the huge sword battles.

This is easily one of AGFA’s stronger choices for Blu-ray release and good, old fun in the right mood. It’s pop kitsch for those that appreciate clumsy, but well-intentioned, filmmaking.

Video

AGFA does a fine job giving The Sword and The Claw a satisfactory HD presentation. A new 4K film scan from the only 35mm theatrical print in existence (that marketing claim is hard to verify) was used for this film-like transfer. It is shown in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio close to its 1.85:1 original dimensions.

The 87-minute main feature is encoded in high-bitrate AVC on a BD-50, sharing space with the other feature on this disc, Brawl Busters (1981). It receives flawless compression, transparently rendering the grain structure. The print has seen better days, marked by normal film anomalies associated with heavy wear. Some flicker and pulsing is evident, though the contrast and colors are fairly stable throughout the movie.

The transfer shows no signs of processing. Its average picture quality is fairly soft and the detail is erratic, possibly a result of poor cinematography. Clarity is rather high for a 1975 film, they apparently didn’t go cheap on the film stock back in Turkey. All things considered, this is respectable PQ for grindhouse material and AGFA’s best transfer to date.

Audio

The included 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack in mono has the movie’s awesome English dub. Sound effects and dialogue have decent fidelity. This is adequate, serviceable audio that gets the job done without major issues.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Niche cult label AGFA has hit the jackpot for old school kung-fu fans. Included on the disc in full HD is Brawl Busters (1981), a second feature that should have received its own release. For a huge fan of badly dubbed kung fu flicks like myself, this is the main feature. The reversible cover art has illustration by Alexis Ziritt (Space Riders), presented in AGFA’s standard clear case. This secret double-feature release is a goldmine of laughs and action in one dynamite package.

Face-smashing Action Trailers (10:22 in rough HD) – Deep from the AGFA vault comes five movie trailers for a ridiculously neat grindhouse experience. Starting off with Argoman The Fantastic Superman (1967) and ending with The Supergirl of Kung Fu, these vintage b-movie trailers from a bygone era are a load of fun.

Brawl Busters (83:08 in 2.35:1 HD; 2.0 DTS-HD MA) – This kung-fu movie is actually Korean in origin and highly recommended for anyone into English-dubbed kung-fu action. Released back in 1981 under various names like the Dragon From Shaolin, the 1978 production is a first-rate kung fu flick drenched in martial arts combat and exotic weaponry. One hapless fighter must confront deadly flying razors that look like saw blades spinning in the air.

AGFA has struck a new 2K film scan from a serviceable, but rough, theatrical print for this classic kung-fu presentation. The plot is structured like a typical Chinese kung-fu flick of the era with impressive fight choreography from both the male and female leads. There are some intriguing elements in the script that elevate it beyond the impressive combat choreography, including co-ed fighting scenes and the closest thing I’ve seen to a sex scene in one of these movies.

Brawl Busters is so enjoyable that I actually recommend watching it before The Sword and The Claw.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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