Based on Michael Crichton’s novel “Eaters of the Dead,” it is about an Arabian emissary Ibn Fadlan (played by Antonio Banderas) who joins a band of ultra-tough, Viking warriors led by Buliwyf in defending a small kingdom against a horde of supernatural barbarians.
Sounds good enough for a medieval adventure movie? It is. John McTiernan, the man who sold Bruce Willis as an action hero to the world in “Die Hard,” directed this movie whose description can even get better: “Seven Samurai” meets “Night of the Living Dead” in a Mexican stand-off scenario. If that is not enough, “13th Warrior” is a retelling of the epic “Beowulf”legend. Reference to the great Norse myth darkens the tone more, to a point of hopelessness. But that is no surprise, Viking days are almost always that gloomy.
One of the more unforgettable scenes that easily comes to mind whenever I recall the movie is the one where the Vikings share a common bowl of water to wash their face, gargle, spit, shoot and…well, you get the picture. You can easily smell Viking in the air. Yet, you’d be surprised that these Viking warriors possess the most perfect curls this side of Northern Europe.
So, Ibn becomes the 13th warrior chosen by way of the casting of bones to answer the call of a neighboring kingdom besieged by an unholy horde that cannot be killed. There, he learns to band with his newfound brothers and witness courage prevail against insurmountable odds as they fortify themselves heavily that even they couldn’t get out. It is suicide and they cheer for its glory. The battle scenes echoing “Seven Samurai” are fought in the dark, in the mud and in caverns of death. McTiernan doesn’t let the sun shine until it is all but over.
"The 13th Warrior" is standard action fare as far as hack and slash Medieval adventures are concerned, but its about Vikings and Norsemen warriors doesn't populate the movies much. If that isn't something, Omar Sharif is on it the first half of the movie.