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Sandokan

Italy/France/West Germany/UK 1974
produced by
RAI, ORTF, Bavaria, ITC
directed by Sergio Sollima
starring Kabir Bedi, Philippe Leroy, Adolfo Celi, Carole André, Andrea Giordana, Hans Caninenberg, Mohammed Azad, Milla Sannoner, Kumar Ganesh, Shamsi, Iwao Yoshika
screenplay by Antonia Lugatelli, Alberto Silvestri, Manlio Scarpelli, Giuseppe Mangione, Sergio Sollima, based on a novel by Emilio Salgari, music by Guido De Angelis, Maurizio De Angelis

tv-miniseries
Sandokan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Southeast Asian Seas, mid-19th century. Sandokan (Kabir Bedi) - pirate, folks hero & freedom fighter against the British colonialists & especially the East India Company - & his fighters are planning to attack the coastal town Labuan by ship, following a tip of one of his men, but are lured into a trap  - thought up by the regional gouvernour on behalf of the crown Brooke (Adolfo Celi) - when they come to the aide of a Chinese junk that is signalling for help but is in reality stuffed from top to bottom with British soldiers, commandeered by colonel Fitzgerald (Andrea Giordana). A bloody battle ensues during which Sandokan is shot by the traitor who orignially lured him into the trap - & who commits suicide soon afterwards - & goes overboard. With their commander dead, Sandokan's men are easy prey for the British ...

But is Sandokan really dead ? Of course not, his body is washed ashore soon afterwards, & he is nursed back to health at the house of Lord Guillonk (Hans Caninenberg) - boss of the East India Company & his mortal enemy - who is unaware of Sandokan's identity though (in fact thinks him dead) & mistakes him for a prince. But Sandokan also finds love at his enemy's house in the form of Guillonk's niece Marianna (Carole André), who he slowly wins over.

Another of Marianna's suitors is colonel Fitzgerald though, whom he meets at a ball but manages to stay incognito, & who even boasts about having killed Sandokan in front of him. It is not until a tiger-hunt that Fitzgerald finally recognizes Sandokan when hearing his battlecry, & he tries to capture his enemy. Fortunately though, Sandokan's men, led by Portoguese Yanez (Philippe Leroy), have since learned of his whereabouts, & have come to Labuan to take their leader back. & not only that, Sandokan even manages to convince Marianna to come with him.

But one of Brooke's ships has already taken up pursuit, & in order not to endanger his fiancée Marianna, Sandokan avoids a bloody battle, instead yields to the British & becomes their prisoner.

He has still one ace up his sleeve though, as Sandokan soon fakes his own death & has Marianna convince the captain to give him a sea burial - much to dthe dismay of Brooke, who wanted to parade the corpse through all of South East Asia in order to destroy his myth ...

& while Sandokan is back with his men, Marianna is to be sent back to England by her uncle Lord Guillonk - but fortunately Yanez has already infiltrated Guillonk's home in the disguise of a Scottish businessman & helps organizing Marianna's abduction (or escape), even though his ture identity is discovered by Brooke & he is temporarily taken prisoner.

With the marriage of Sandokan & Marianna, Sandokan's island Mompracem flourishes as a rich & free island amidst colonialist oppression - a fact not taken favourably by the colonialists of course, who soon try to set up deals with leadeers of other islands either fight on their side against Sandokan or become an enemy of the British.

Before long, a neighbouring tribal leader, claiming to come in peace, has nothing better to do than to poison Mompracem's drinking water with a cholera virus, & the disease soon decimates the island's inhabitants to only a few handful. But that was only the first step in Brooke's plan to get back at Sandokan, as he soon invades the island, easily overcoming the island's defenses terribly weakened by the disease & hunts Sandokan & his few remaining men through the jungle.

At this escape, Marianna is killed, Sandokan is left heartbroken  & Yanez badly wounded, however, they manage to flee the island in a small fishing boat.

Now, they have lost everything, their island, their people, their love, ...

But ships from neighbouring islands come to their rescue, Sandokan may have lost the battle, maybe the war, but his legend is still holding strong, giving people hope all  through South East Asia ...

 

As pirate adventures go, this one is pretty good (& was highly successful), which is due in no small part to the fact that it was filmed on original locations in South East Asia, which gives the series a convincingly exotic look & allowed to cast many Asians in key roles (including Indian actor Kabir Bedi in the title role, which he would reprise in a motion picture 3 years later & two more tv-series in the 1990's), thus steering it away from the mock-exoticism of earlier Sandokan movies starring Steve Reeves in the title role.

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

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written by
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