Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 9th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Italy/France/Spain, December 19th, 1963
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writers: Víctor Andrés Catena, Fulvio Gicca Palli, Umberto Lenzi
Cast: Steve Reeves, Geneviève Grad, Andrea Bosic, Rik Battaglia, Mario Valdemarin, Leo Anchóriz, Anand Kumar, Antonio Molino Rojo, Enzo Fiermonte, Wilbert Bradley, Maurice Poli, Gino Marturano, Nazzareno Zamperla, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Pietro Capanna, Ananda Kumar
Approximate running time: 111 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Castilian, English & Italian
DVD Release: Impulso Records & Films
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (Spain)
Retail Price: $17.95
Synopsis: The British government tries to trap Sandokan the son of a sultan who they have imprisoned. Sandokan with a few of his most loyal followers attempt to rescues his father. There play is quickly foiled and the British always seem to be one step of Sandokan. Is there a traitor among Sandokan’s men and can they discover his identity before the British silence Sandokan and his men.
Steve Reeves is most remembered for winning Mr. Universe twice in 1947 & 1950 and the Peplum films that he made in his all too brief film career. After playing Sandokan in the 1963 film “Sandokan the Great” Steve Reeves would return to the role a year later in the sequel “The Pirates of Malaysia”. Both of these films were directed by Umberto Lenzi. “Sandokan the Great” was adapted from the Emilio Salgari novel “Sandokan: The Tigers of Mompracem”.
The Character of Sandokan is a big departure from the Hercules character that Steve Reeves became so identified with. Sandokan the Great is a swashbuckling adventure that features very little sailing and a lot of time spent in the jungle. The story revolves a sultan’s son named Sandokan whose mother and siblings had been killed by the British government. Now they had his father who they dangled out as bait in hopes of capturing and ridding them of Sandokan who had been causing them great trouble. The plot is filled with just the right amount of battle scenes including an all out shoot out in the final.
The acting is pretty good all around with the stand out performance coming from Steve Reeves in the lead role of Sandokan. Steve Reeves doesn’t ham it up or spend the majority of the time showing off his physical prowess. Instead he creates his most intricate and powerful performance of his career. Visually this is around solid film from director Umberto Lenzi. At nearly two hours there are more peaks then valleys as this move along at a brisk pace. Some of the films highlights include Steve Reeves fighting a tiger and a smoking monkey. Ultimately Sandokan is an acquired taste that fans of Peplum and Swashbuckling adventures will get the mileage out of.
Sandokan the Great is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 scope photography. Overall the years I have seen so many inferior versions of Steve Reeves films that are have been cut, cropped or just looked like crap. Impulso’s transfer for Sandokan the Great is the best looking transfer I have seen to date for a Steve Reeves film. Colors look lively and nicely saturated. Black levels look strong and details remain sharp throughout. There isn’t a speck of dirt on this transfer and outside of some scenes where the color looks just a tad off this transfer looks stunning.
Three audio options come with this release English, Castilian and Italian. All three audio options are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The English and Italian mixes sound clean, clear, evenly balanced and robust. The Castilian audio mix has some noticeable background noise that is present throughout. The only subtitle option is Castilian and they can be turned off during the English language track.
Extras for this release are limited to cast & crew lists, a photo gallery (the stills look like they were taken from the DVD) and a DVD insert about Impulso’s Pirate collection. None of the extras add anything to the main feature. Overall Impulso Records & Films have given one of Steve Reeves lesser known films a solid audio/video presentation which trumps all previous releases of this film to date.