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Sandok (La montagna di luce) 
Written by: on June 11th, 2010

Theatrical Release Date:
Italy, 1965
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Fulvio Gicca Palli
Cast: Richard Harrison, Luciana Gilli, Wilbert Bradley, Daniele Vargas, Andrea Scotti, Nerio Bernardi, Nazzareno Zamperla, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Dakar

DVD released: June 29th, 2010
Approximate running time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Mya Communication
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

Synopsis: A well known thief hiding out in India is conned into stealing a valuable diamond from a religious temple.

Sandok was directed by Umberto Lenzi a versatile Italian filmmaker who worked in whatever genre was popular at the time in Italy. His is most known for his forays into the cannibal genre with notorious films like Eaten Alive and Cannibal Ferox. The screenplay for Sandok was adapted from Emilio Salgari’s novel ‘La montagna di luce’. Several of Emilio Salgari’s novels have been adapted into films with the most notable adaptations being Sandokan the Great and Sandokan: Pirate of Malaysia. Both of these films were also directed by Umberto Lenzi. The score for Sandok was composed by Francesco De Masi (The Inglorious Bastards, The New York Ripper) and Giovanni Fusco a frequent collaborator of Michelangelo Antonioni. The cinematographer on Sandok was Angelo Lotti, who’s other notable film’s as a cinematographer include A Black Veil for Lisa, Venus in Furs and Seven Blood-Stained Orchids. Other alternate titles that Sandok has gone under include Jungle Adventurer, Temple of a Thousand Lights and the original Italian language title La montagna di luce.

This film is equal part adventure and heist film. The plot revolves a thief named Alan Foster who has been hiding out in India since he fled America after robbing a bank. As if being on the run was not a big enough problem. His gambling debts forces him to take on the impossible task of stealing a diamond known as ‘Mountain of Light’ from a religious temple. Along the way he befriends a native who pretends to be a holy man. What starts off as a good partnership. Quickly turns sour when Foster double crosses the native man. The rest of the film is spent with Foster trying too out run the native man and his friends who are out for blood. Being a foreigner poses problems for Foster who is trying to allude his pursuers. A girl who he helped earlier in the film helps him escape his pursuers.

The overall scope of this production pales when compared to Umberto Lenzi’s  previous action adventures films that he made with Steve Reeves, Sandokan the Great and Sandokan: Pirate of Malaysia. And even though the bulk of this film was shot primary on location. The scenes which were shot on sets are not as effective since they often come off looking very cheap. Pacing wise the film moves along briskly with rarely a dull moment. Also there are few twists thrown into the mix to keep things moving along. With the biggest twist setting up the film’s final act. One area where the film often misses is its attempt at humor. OK, the scenes in which Richard Harrison’s character paints his skin color to match the natives are mildly amusing.

Richard Harrison (Secret Agent Fireball, Challenge of the Tiger) is cast in the role of the suave thief Alan Foster. Sandok re-teams Harrison with Lenzi. They had previously worked together on Adventures of the Bengal Lancers. The film’s standout performance comes from Dakar (Zombie 2, Dr. Butcher M.D.) who portrays the native man who forms a brief partnership with Foster. The films main female character Lilamani is portrayed by a very attractive Italian actress named Luciana Gilli (Conqueror of Atlantis). Unfortunately this character like the majority of the characters are not given enough to do.

The DVD:

Sandok is presented in a anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The source used for this transfer looks clean. Colors fare well, flesh tones at times look slightly off and black levels are average at best. Day time scenes tend to look to bright and darker scenes often lack detail.

This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian. Background noise while present it is never to excessive. Removable English subtitles that are easy to follow have been provided.

This release comes with no extra content. Overall Sandok gets a serviceable audio / video presentation from Mya Communication.

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