Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Original Title: I pirati della Malesia
Alternate Title: Sandokan: Pirate of Malaysia, Pirates of the Seven Seas
Italy/Spain/West Germany/France, 1964. Euro International Film, La Société des Films Sirius, Lacy Internacional Films. Story by Ugo Liberatore, Screenplay by Ugo Liberatore, Victor Andres Catena, Jaime Comas Gil, based on the novel by Emilio Salgari. Cinematography by Federico G. Larraya, Angelo Lotti. Produced by Solly V. Bianco. Music by Giovanni Fusco. Production Design by Arrigo Equini. Costume Design by Giancarlo Bartolini Salimbeni. Film Editing by Jolanda Benvenuti.
One of the most enjoyable of Steve Reeves‘ fantasy adventures, a sequel to the previous year’s Sandokan The Great. In the exciting conclusion of this boisterous tale, Sandokan (Reeves) and his “tigers” must save his country from the wicked ways of the unwelcome British overseers. After sneaking onto the boat of a cruel English general and causing mayhem, Sandokan makes himself a brand new committed enemy and must spend the rest of the film outwitting him while thwarting the general’s plan to do away with King Hassim and establish British power in Malaysia instead. Sandokan later goes undercover to save an ally from hard-labour imprisonment before an exciting final act that sees him rescuing the King from a monastery high atop a mountain, where he is being kept with his beautiful daughter Hada (Jacqueline Sassard). The plot is breezy and silly but its episodic nature suits the lighthearted, colourful manner in which it is played out, the details of how things fit together is unimportant when you’re having a good time letting the swashbuckling frenzy happen. Of course it also features the unfortunate aspects of classic adventures set in exotic locations, namely actors in brownface, particularly a very painted Sassard and the blue-eyed Reeves playing a Malaysian rebel, always one hearty laugh away from bursting out of that tiny pirate shirt that he keeps tied at the bottom like Mary Anne on Gilligan’s Island. Director Umberto Lenzi creates an overall visual artifice to go along with the light touch he applies to the story’s sense of adventure, employing a rich array of gorgeous, widescreen colour images that are always a pleasure to behold.