The Thirteenth Warrior is based off of Michael Crichton's novel "Eaters of the Dead" and the true story of Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan Ibn Al Abbas Ibn Rashid Ibn Hamad. The story explores an "ancient evil" that is not named, known as the Wendol that are cannibals whom are described as having "teeth like a lion, figure of a man, and a head like a bear with claws" that slaughter anyone who comes across their path.
Ibn, an Arabic ambassador, is chosen as the thirteenth warrior to accompany a band of a dozen twelve brave vikings. They are sent to the north to assist the ravaged villages and defeat the Wendol.
This is a great film that explores both action and heavy Norse mythology. It may sound comical that Antonio Banderas plays an Arab, but he gives a very descent performance as a man of politics who transform into an unexpected hero. Vladimir Kulich also gave a very strong performance as the head of the twelve vikings, Buliwyf. The rest of the cast was simply good as well, giving off both humor and testosterone. The camera work was both thrilling and dangerous, which reminded me very much of the intense camera angles in Predator.
The scenery and cinematography is superbly crafted, the heart racing score of Jerry Goldsmith was both haunting and moving. the battle sequences were smaller, no where in the league of Lord of the Rings but they were exciting and intense with plenty of bloodshed. And I also have to mention that the make up job was very well done from the wigs to the scars that the warriors gained and held throughout the film.
However, the first half hour of the film was somewhat hard to follow, due to the fact that the dialog was in different languages and hard to follow while other cast members such as a surprise appearance of Omar Sharif, was trying to interrupt the happenings to Banderas' character, as well as to the audience. The film I might add was a bit too short, and over way to quickly, making it more of an action flick rather than an epic like Braveheart or Gladiator, and a few intermediate stories were not solved fully.