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Excalibur
D: John Boorman (1981) 140m


At the time of its release noted for mesmerising special effects and brutal combat scenes, this is an unbeatable retelling of the Arthurian legend. Everything is as it should be - the sword in the stone, the Lancelot/Guenivere love affair, the Quest for the Holy Grail and Merlin's dark magic. A must-see fantasy and holding up well.





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Dragonslayer
D: Matthew Robbins (1981) 108m


Despite box-office failure, time has been kind to this fantasy about a dreaded fire-breathing dragon who is appeased by the occasional virgin sacrifice. It falls to an old wizard and his apprentice to break the cycle and save the next virgin in line. Terrific special effects place this one well above the 80s norm and worth a look.





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Legend
D: Ridley Scott (1985) 114m


A lukewarm reception from the critics at the time of release hasn't dimmed the brightness of this wonderful movie in the least. When the last unicorn suffers at the hands of Darkness, Jack (played by a young Tom Cruise) sets out to save the world and rescue a princess. Tim Curry is superb as evil incarnate. Underrated.





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Ladyhawke
D: Richard Donner (1985) 121m


A dreadful 80s soundtrack hasn't stopped this inspired tale from becoming a genuine classic of the fantasy genre. An evil curse prevents two lovers (Michelle Pfeiffer & Rutger Hauer) from joining when one turns into a hawk at sunrise and the other a wolf at sunset. Matthew Broderick plays a young thief who comes to their aid.





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Willow
D: Ron Howard (1988) 130m


A diminutive farmer with aspirations to be a sorcerer teams up with a great swordsman (Val Kilmer) to protect an infant princess from an evil queen. George Lucas penned the storyline and the production values are topnotch. Although there is nothing new or different here, 'Willow' definitely stands out as a top pick from the 80s bunch.





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Kull the Conqueror
D: John Nicolella (1997) 96m


Campy sword & sorcery fantasy with Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) in the lead role in a story based on a Robert E Howard character. The barbarian Kull, the son of Conan, is given a crown by a king he has killed in battle. It's all good fun when you toss in an evil goddess (Tia Carrere looking very sexy), a plot to overthrow the throne and some great Slovakian locations.





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'The Lord of the Rings' Trilogy
D: Peter Jackson (2001-03) 588m


Spectacular trilogy of movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien's landmark story of a Hobbit who undertakes a quest to destroy the One Ring of the Dark Lord in the Cracks of Doom. All three movies clock in at around three hours each and, as they were filmed at the same time, there is no loss of continuity between instalments. Absolute must-see.





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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
D: Peter Jackson (2012) 169m


Released to mixed critical reviews, director Peter Jackson returns to J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Middle-earth' as a follow-up to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit, reluctantly leads a feisty group of dwarves in a quest to win back their mountain home (and its treasure) from the dragon Smaug. The main criticisms of the film have been of its lengthy run-time and deliberate pacing.


Sword & Sorcery
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