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Pretty Bad: 4.76%
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1 review, 15 user ratings

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by Brian McKay

"Long Before peasants sang 'We Will Rock You', there was KNIGHTRIDERS"
5 stars

Many people are unaware that George Romero has actually made films without zombies or any other supernatural elements in them. Well, okay, ONE film that I know of. It's too bad he didn't make more like this, because while I am a huge fan of films like "Dawn of the Dead", this film shows that Romero has the ability to tell a good tale outside of the realm of the macabre.

"Knightriders" is the story of a rag-tag travelling renaissance fair, whose prime attraction is armored men jousting on motorcycles. The carnival is led by Billy (played by Ed Harris, when he still had most of his hair), who fancies himself a modern-day King Arthur. These people aren't merely putting on a show for the tourists, though. They are living a lifestyle loosely modeled after medieval society. Vendors and concession workers fill the role of peasants, providing the economic backbone of the troupe, while the jousters are the lords, providing the pageantry and spectacle and making the major decisions.

The film was obviously done on a limited budget, the motley knights wearing what looks like home-made armor and ridiculously oversized knight's helmets that were obviously built over regular motorcycle helmets. Nevertheless, they still manage to look somewhat cool, and the film boasts an impressive plethora of stunts and motorcycle wrecks that rival the excitement of anything found in "A Knight's Tale" or "Excalibur". We're talking about guys getting their bikes flipped tailpipe over handlebar after someone jams a mace into their front spokes, or flying backwards off of their motorcycle after being smacked with a lance or sword.

Though they seem a jovial band of campers at first, we soon see that all is not well in Camelot. Between evading crooked cops looking for bribes, and mounting medical and maintainence expenses, the troupe is in serious financial trouble. Some of the lords believe that they should make the operation more commercialized and financially viable. The dissidents are led by Morgan Le Fay (Tom Savini, long-time friend of Romero's and director of the 1990 remake of "Night of the Living Dead"), the best jouster of the troupe who has aspirations to Billy's crown. The King, however, has other ideas, and is dead-set against using the carnival solely for profit. Billy wants only to live by the code of chivalry, blindly ignoring the warnings of impending bankruptcy. A schism finally occurs when a fast-talking representative from a big-money promotions agency shows up, promising the carnival large venues and custom armor and bikes, as well as the riches and fame that Morgan and his crew are so hungry for.

Although the story is admirably scripted and paced, and the acting is competent, the film feels a bit too long at nearly two and a half hours. Besides some kick-ass stunts, the other thing this story has going for it is likeable, sympathetic characters. Even the "villains" of the piece, such as Morgan, are portrayed as merely misguided, not malicious. Though Ed Harris seems to have two main modes in this film - pissed off or brooding - he still brings a nobility and inner strength to the ultimately tragic character. His is the soul of a true knight who was born centuries too late. The true battle portrayed in this film is not "good vs. evil", but a man against his time.

"Knightriders" is probably the closest Romero has come to producing an epic film, and is a must-see for his fans and recommended for anyone else who enjoys jousting, motorcycle crashes, or anachronistic themes.

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originally posted: 05/31/01 19:11:07
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User Comments

12/26/09 Chad Dillon Cooper A film about staying true to what you believe,ie: don't sell out. 4 stars
6/07/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess An off-beat classic 4 stars
12/19/07 Shell Excellent movie!!! 5 stars
11/19/06 Dennis Procopio this movie is rotten..but my dad loves it 2 stars
8/08/04 Jazz Updating a timeless tale to modern times, and still having all the magic of Camelot. 5 stars
3/27/04 Finn Excellent movie! One of my all time favorites. 5 stars
3/23/04 Morally Sound Hooray for Romero and Savini! 4 stars
2/28/04 Spartan A special movie that I have never been able to forget. Quite touching in it's own way. 4 stars
2/22/04 SqrFmDel Awesome 80s movie!!! 5 stars
11/30/03 john a sincere little gem of a movie 4 stars
10/28/03 Michael Ferryman A must-see. 5 stars
4/10/03 Jeff Vargon A great film that captures the lost code of chivalry and yet tells a damn good tale! 5 stars
10/26/02 Charles Tatum Bizarre, different stuff from Romero 5 stars
2/07/02 Rui Romao People living a fantasy in modern age.. the story is grand. Costums plausible.. 5 stars
7/02/01 johan sleeuwaert nice movie 4 stars
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  10-Apr-1981 (R)
  DVD: 11-Jul-2000



Directed by
  George A. Romero

Written by
  Geroge A. Romero

  Ed Harris
  Tom Savini
  Gary Lahti
  Amy Ingersoll
  Patricia Tallman
  Ken Foree

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