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
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.
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 ...
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.
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
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
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