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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Drama > War > Colonialism > Slavery > Ashanti (1979) + The Wild Geese – 30th Anniversary Edition (1978) + Zulu Dawn (1979/Tango DVD)

Ashanti (1979) + The Wild Geese – 30th Anniversary Edition (1978) + Zulu Dawn (1979/Tango DVD)


Picture: C-/C/C-     Sound: C/C+/C     Extras: D/C+/C-     Films: C/C+/C-



As the James Bond films made a comeback in the hands Albert R. Broccoli and star Roger Moore, British production became encouraged and took some risks on big productions that were interesting, but did not work out commercially as much as expected.  At least they were ambitious.


Ashanti (1979) takes place in an Africa with slavery alive and well, before Apartheid fell.  Michael Caine plays a doctor who is going to expose a more secret slave trade, even if it means going undercover to do so.  Directed by the ambitious journeyman director Richard Fleischer, the supporting cast boasts no less than Peter Ustinov, Kabir Bedi, Omar Sharif, Rex Harrison, William Holden, Beverly Johnson and Johnny Sekka, but it never adds up as Stephen Geller’s script is just too uneven.


The Wild Geese (1978) opens with Maurice Binder titles similar to a Bond film, even featuring a theme song by Joan Armatrading entitled Flight Of The Wild Geese, promises big thrills and certainly has the budget and ambition to meet some of that expectation.  Andrew V. McLagen directed this later-day War/Westernesque tale about a team out to free a man who could change the fate of Africa for the better, but it suffers form being done better so many times before.  However, it is entertaining and the extras make this disc more interesting.  Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris, Hardy Kruger, Frank Finlay, Kenneth Griffith, Barry Foster and Ronald Fraser star.


That leaves Zulu Dawn (1979) which is a prequel to the 1964 epic Zulu and tries to show the mess British Colonialism offered.  Bob Hoskins, Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, John Mills, Simon Ward Nigel Davenport, Peter Vaughan, Denholm Elliot, Christopher Cazenove, Donald Pickering, Nicholas Clay and Freddie Jones star in this anti-climactic, unnecessary retread of a better, dated film. 



Ashanti was shot in real anamorphic Panavision by Aldo Tonti, which is the way the letterboxed trailer is shown.  Too bad only the credits are shown that way, as the rest of the playback is in an awful pan and scan transfer.  It has no extras and flat Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono from theatrical mono a few generations down.  Wild Geese is presented in a letterboxed 1.85 X 1 image that is not bad, but should have been anamorphically enhanced, as shot by Jack Hildyard, B.S.C. and has Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono instead of a multi-channel derivative from the 4-track magnetic stereo on better release prints.  Extras include the original trailer, interactive combat menu, Stars’ War, text star bios, long radio promo called “radio spot” here, premiere footage, Last Of The Gentleman Producers – The Life & Works Of Euan Lloyd featurette and a terrific audio commentary by Sir Roger Moore, Lloyd & journalist Johnathan Sothcott which makes this the highlight of all three DVD releases.  For those who do not know, all Moore commentaries are among the best ever by any star in the world, literally.


That leaves Zulu Dawn, shot in real anamorphic Panavision by Ousama Rawi, which is not as good as Zulu’s Technirama, but tries to look as big.  However, the transfer cheats here by cutting off the sides to be more like 1.85/1.78 X 1 letterbox and it shows.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is barely stereo and this was a Dolby A-type analog theatrical release.  The only extra is the trailer.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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