The Black Archer (1959)

Who was that masked man? Well, it sure as hell wasn’t the Black Archer! Because apparently that dude doesn’t even exist! At no time in Piero Pierotti’s The Black Archer did a costumed vigilante who swiped William Tell’s gimmick ever make an appearance!

Not to worry though because Pierotti didn’t go on to direct such memorably forgotten Italian adventure films as Giant of the Evil Island by hosing its audience out of what was promised in the title despite that there wasn’t any giant in Giant of the Evil Island. So it is that instead of The Black Archer, we get… The Avenging Arrow!

Yeah, frigging upgrade, I know! This Avenger Arrow guy has it all over whatever the hell a Black Archer would have been – lame dude in cheesy black domino mask no doubt – which Pierotti instead used for the bad guys! With the Avenging Arrow though you get, hold on to your quivers you bow slinging studs, a freaking wanted poster!

And if that doesn’t hit the entertainment bull’s eye, there’s even a couple of guys talking up our hero, Corrado, and his abilities with the bow and arrow and that people might be suspecting he’s the Avenging Arrow!

But if he’s already the best shot in Europe, how is he ever going to maintain his secret identity as the mild mannered son of a guy who was just murdered and is now thirsting for bloody vengeance?

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You don’t get to become a dude with a superhero nickname that merits its own Robin Hood-style wanted poster by not being several steps ahead of the corrupt authorities who when they aren’t busy killing your dad are trying to pump your sexy girlfriend, who just happens to be their own cousin!

Taking a page out of a playbook that no one but a director of disappointingly dull Italian adventures knows about, Corrado evades detection by never once assuming his awesomely avengeful alter ego!

Remember all those Batman films where you only got to see Bruce Wayne punch guys? Or how about that one Spider-Man movie where Peter Parker’s costume got stolen at the airport by Transportation Security Administration airport screeners so he just spent all movie kicking and choking dudes while wearing chinos? That’s the sort of Everyman superhero spectacle that The Black Archer is!

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Most bizarrely of all, Pierotti even expertly plays the moment of self-doubt all heroes are hit with when it seems as if Corrado’s blown up love life is affecting his archery megapowers! My God, will he be able to hit that one in a quadrillion shot to save his country, rescue the haughtily sexy princess and kill the bastards who killed his father?

Hell, anyone who’s ever seen even one movie knows how this one ends up. It’s not exactly a spoiler to say that he never ever uses his archery powers again, one bad guy is stabbed in the back by the henchmen of another bad guy during a sword fight with Corrado, while that bad guy ends up being dragged off into the sunset by his crazed horse, to suffer, if not death, a most heinous case of road rash! (Shockingly, this was the least idiotic part of the film’s finale which involved the sudden appearance of a prince who had been disguised as a monk earlier for no reason except to set up the anti-climatic finish of the film.)

Pierotti also manages to adhere to the old maxim that a boring and stodgy dimwit hero (Corrado spends half the movie teamed up with the evil cousins because he moronically believes they are rebelling with him against their doddering old uncle and only sporadically seems to remember he’s supposed to be hunting his father’s killer) is only as cool as the delightfully deviant and cartoonishly creepy villains he battles. So it is that Corrado finds himself locked in a war with the crazed cousins, Lodovico and Lodrosio (Livio Lorenzon), with each bringing to the table his own evil abilities.

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Lodovico uses his smarmy charm and low level Pompadour to get information from a Gypsy wench on Corrado’s whereabouts as well as to try and marry his other cousin (and Corrado’s girlfriend), Ginevra.

Lodrosio ups the ante though by being a completely amoral, sacrilegious, and violent cripple with a rotten self image! Gimped up like you wouldn’t believe, when Lodrosio isn’t comparing his love of Giverva to worshiping the Madonna or threatening to burn Ginerva’s eyes out so she will love him, he’s barely even able to stand up with his bum leg and twisted up arm. At one point he even falls to the floor and throws a tantrum because of how sucky he is!

Decked out with his murderous girl sidekick who isn’t adverse to torturing Gypsy wenches with her spurs, Lodrosio is the best thing in a mostly pedestrian movie afflicted with a colorless hero and few action scenes (marked only by half-hearted and unconvincing lunging with swords). It all adds up to an experience akin to having an arrow broken off in your nut sack.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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