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Ashanti - Severin Films - Blu-ray DVD Combo Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
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Written by Chris Mayo   
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
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Blu-ray/DVD Combo Artwork for Ashanti on Severed Cinema
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AKA: Ébano, Ashanti - seikkailu Afrikassa, Ashanti, Land of No Mercy, Porwanie

Directed by: Richard Fleischer
Written by: Stephen Geller, Alberto Vázquez Figueroa (novel)
Produced by: Georges-Alain Vuille
Cinematography by: Aldo Tonti
Editing by: Ernest Walter
Music by: Michael Melvoin
Special effects by: Aldo Gasparri
Cast: Michael Caine, Peter Ustinov, Kabir Bedi, Beverly Johnson, Omar Sharif, Winston Ntshona
Year: 1979
Country: France
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1h 58min

Distributor: Severin Films
 

Married couple, Dr. David Linderby (Michael Caine) and his wife Dr. Anansa Linderby (Beverly Johnson) arrive at a West African village by way of the United Nations to distribute vaccinations to the local villagers.  They are greeted warmly by the tribe, given permission to carry on with their inoculations.  The tribe welcomes them with traditional dance and then line up for the vaccines.  Embracing their cheerful spirit, the doctors relax and Anansa, uncannily decides to go for a (skinny) dip in a local waterway.  David decides to hang back and take photos of the tribal exploits.  Of course this is when things take a terrible turn when Anansa finishes her nude dip.  She returns to her clothes only to be confronted and kidnapped by a merciless band of Arab slave traders.  Thus beginning our African (mis)adventure.

Attempting to find out what happened to his wife, David tries to get information from the local Police Commissioner.  However, the Commissioner is unwilling to assist his search -- going so far as to denying any slave trading goings-on.  David, on the brink of giving up must continue his journey to rescue his wife without police assistance.

During his reconnaissance mission he is assisted by Brian Walker (Rex Harrison) of the Anti-Slavery Society, who introduces him to Captain Jim Sandell (William Holden), a mercenary (self proclaimed) “whore” helicopter pilot.  The pilot takes him to a water channel in which the slave traders must cross, but the attempt ends miserably with Sandell’s death and a crashed plane.

Insert strategy two.  Walker meets once again with Linderby stating his only chance would be by using his “vulture” to track the traders across the Sahara desert.  His “vulture,” a scorned tribesman named Malik (Kabir Bedi), had his family captured by the slave traders.  His wife had been raped, sodomized and her throat slit -- his children nowhere to be found.  So needless to say Malik wants bloodthirsty vengeance against the slave traders -- a perfect companion to Linderby.  The two must set forth across 3,000 miles of Sahara desert for salvation and the ultimate retribution.

Even though the film is generally serious business, there is a funny scene in which Caine attempts to board a camel.  We see him struggle, making hiss sounds whilst the camel smugly disobeys, chewing.  Funny moments like this aside however, is also a notably brutal scene where Malik and Linderby find a caravan of slave traders on route.  They believe they have the slave traders they are looking for but it turns out, they have the wrong men.  When these slavers are done away with, the children they have captured are set free, but freedom they do not find.  They are left in the desert to perish.  By miracle they might find salvation, but  Malik and Linderby are unable to take the children with them, enhancing the barbarity of the slave trade.

"Ashanti," at it's running time of just shy of two hours, becomes a little tiring at times.  Overall the film is well executed and acted, but it isn't by any means a film that has garnered or will garner much attention from cinemaphiles.  Also, one can't help but put themselves in David Linderby's situation and think you'd be acting entirely different if placed in his shoes.  In his situation, with your wife captured by Arab slave traders, in an unknown land such as Africa, one would think you'd be an absolute nervous wreck.  For the entire film Michael Caine's character is cool, calm and collected.  He goes with the flow.  I don't know about everyone, but that just came across as an odd reaction to such a dreadful situation.

"Ashanti," while slightly flawed and with an overzealous runtime, does have its moments and is worth at least one viewing.  Just don't expect anything overtly special.

Additionally, "Ashanti" was viewed as a double bill with  “The Wild Geese” and of note is actor Winston Ntshona, who played President Limbani in “The Wild Geese."  He makes an appearance in this as Ansok, the lackey of slave trade leader Suleiman, played by Peter Ustinov.

Severin Films presents "Ashanti" in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo.  The Blu-ray is presented with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 1080p HD with an MPEG-2 codec (Blu-rays are typically encoded MPEG-4 AVC).  While the film doesn't look as good as other releases it is still rather vibrant, colorful and clear with the older codec format.  A noticeable blight in the video was at approximately the 01:31.09 minute mark where there is a slight frame jump, presumably that of some minor missing frames.  The audio is presented Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, and is quite sufficient for this feature.  For the supplemental features there is 'Beverly Johnson Remembers Ashanti,' (26:57 minutes) which is a new interview with Beverly Johnson who played Anansa.  Here she talks about her career around this time, being pregnant during the shooting of "Ashanti," how she named her daughter after her character and she emphasized that her husband at the time had romps with other women in the film.  A Trailer for the movie rounds out the extras.
 

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

Severin Films Blu-ray Screenshot from "Ashanti" on Severed Cinema

 RATING:
 VIDEO: 1 
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 AUDIO: 1 
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 BLU-RAY: 1 
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 MOVIE: 1 
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 DVD SPECS:
 Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 16:9 1080p HD MPEG-2
 Region: A/1
 Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono


 SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
 -
Beverly Johnson Remembers Ashanti
 - Trailer

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