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Michael Caine says it's his worst film. He's wrong - by a fair margin, too - though it's certainly a mediocre work.
barnabyrudge5 January 2005
Michael Caine has always claimed that Ashanti was "the only film (he) did purely for the money" as well as "the worst film he ever starred in". Hold on, Michael, weren't you in The Swarm and Hurry Sundown? And weren't both of those films a good deal worse than Ashanti? Perhaps Caine remembers only too begrudgingly the physically punishing demands of filming an action film in searing 130 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures (the director, Richard Fleischer, was hospitalised as a result of sun-stroke during the shoot). What Ashanti actually emerges as is not the career low-point of Michael Caine. Instead, it is a very average chase thriller with a talented cast, exotic locations, boring stretches and a highly formulaic storyline.

Dr. David Linderby (Caine) is a W.H.O medic who is left devastated when his black wife Anansa (Beverly Johnson) goes missing during an aid trip to an African tribal village. Linderby gradually realises that his wife has been snatched by slave traders - led by Suleiman (Peter Ustinov) - and he sets off on a continent-wide pursuit which eventually leads to the Middle East.

Along the way, big stars pop in for ineffective and superfluous guest roles. William Holden has a poor cameo as a chopper pilot; Omar Sharif displays little of his customary charm or grace as a pampered Arab millionaire; Rex Harrison looks rightfully bored during his brief role as a helpful contact who assists Caine in his quest. The film is based on a best-seller entitled Ebano, by the little-known author Alberto Vasquez-Figueroa, but the suspense that made the book so popular is largely absent in this adaptation. Ustinov is charismatic as the slaver (he seems in all his movies to be incapable of giving bad performances), and Caine generates believable anguish as the man who thinks he'll never see his wife again. There are occasional flashes of action, but on the whole Ashanti is quite slow-moving. All in all, it is a resistible piece of action hokum - not by any stretch as awful as Caine has frequently suggested, but not a very inspiring film and certainly a let-down from all the talent involved.
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Not that bad
80710 August 2009
Beverly Johnson and Michael Caine as an interracial marriage of doctors try to help some African kids when the woman is abducted by a ruthless slave hunter (Peter Ustinov). Seeing that the local officials are not too willing to do anything about it, Caine decides to take the justice into his own hands and starts chasing Ustinov across the vast deserts of Maghreb.

Despite all the warnings, not that bad movie. The pace is somewhat slow, and the acting somewhat absent (though both Malik and Ustinov try to do their best), but generally, an acceptable filler on a rainy afternoon. The high points are the shots of North African desert and the Omar Shariff's short appearance.

Beverly Johnson is pretty chick, but she's seen only periodically (still she has one scene of full frontal nudity, although very brief). And the grimy subject definitely deserved a better treatment. All in all, not a definitely bad movie; just nothing really memorable, exceptional and shining here. 5/10.
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Watchable Enough Though It's Easy To See That Caine Dislikes It
Theo Robertson23 December 2005
ASHANTI is a somewhat typical movie from the late 70s/early 80s starring Michael Caine . It's certainly watchable in an undemanding way but no more than that but neither is it bad enough to be virtually disowned by its star .

The story itself is intriguing an Afro-American doctor working for the UN is kidnapped by slave traders and it's up to her English born husband to track down the kidnapped woman . I guess the movie could have concerned itself more as to dispelling or building myths about the present day slave trade but it's not that type of movie and rightly concentrates on action and adventure

One can't help thinking that maybe Caine's dislike of the movie is down to the fact that he's playing a hero and as everyone knows heroes are by their very nature boring . Undoubtedly Malik played by Indian actor Kabir Bedi is the most interesting character while Peter Ustinov as Sulimen gets by far the best lines and scenes like " A father , a father , a father " . Very frequently Caine gives the impression that as soon as the movie is finished and the cheque is in the bank he'll be firing his agent

ASHANTI is a movie that demands very little from and offers little to its audience except to sit back and be enthralled . Film buffs might complain that this is a poor movie considering it was directed by the legendary Richard Fleischer , well maybe but I think the only thing the director can be criticised for is casting an obviously unwell William Holden in a needless cameo
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Excellent adventure, slightly predictable, wonderful acting
rochvelleth6 August 2006
Ashanti is a very 70s sort of film (1979, to be precise). It reminded me of The Wild Geese in a way (Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Roger Moore on a mission in Africa). It's a very good film too, and I enjoyed it a lot.

David (Michael Caine) is a doctor working in Africa and is married to a beautiful Ashanti woman called Anansa (Beverley Johnson) who has trained in medicine in America and is also a doctor. While they're doctoring, one day she is snatched by slavers working for an Arabic slave trader called Suleiman (played perfectly by Peter Ustinov, of all people). The rest of the film is David trying to get her back.

Michael Caine is a brilliant actor, of course, and plays a character who is very determined and prepared to do anything to get his wife back, but rather hopeless with a gun and action stuff. He's helped out first by a Englishman campaigning against the slave trade that no one acknowledges is going on (Rex Harrison!), then briefly by a helicopter pilot (William Holden), and then by an Arab called Malik (Kabir Bedi). Malik has a score to settle with Suleiman (he is very intense throughout, a very engaging character), and so rides off with David to find him and get Anansa back - this involves a wonderful scene in which David fails miserably to get on his camel.

Then there's lots of adventure. There's also lots of morality-questioning. The progress of the story is a little predictable from this point, and there are a few liberties taken with plotting to move things along faster, but it's all pretty forgivable. The question is, will David get to Anansa before Peter Ustinov sells her on to Omar Sharif (yes, of course Omar Sharif is in it!)?
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Actors Boredom Transferred To The Audience
bkoganbing8 August 2008
If Ashanti had been a serious attempt at a film about the institution of slavery, still prevalent in third world countries the film might have been better received. Instead it turns into a star studded disaster of a movie where the stars came in, said their lines, and picked up their paychecks without much conviction.

Michael Caine and his wife Beverly Johnson work for the United Nations World Health Organization and are busy doing their humanitarian thing in East Africa. Along comes Peter Ustinov who can barely summon enough ham in him to make a go of the part as a Moslem slave dealer. As Johnson is black he grabs her anyway along with a lot of children and a few adults as well.

Of course Caine doesn't take kindly to the kidnapping and the rest of the film is spent in a rescue attempt. The rest of the cast has such folks as William Holden, Rex Harrison, Omar Sharif and Indian film star Kebir Bedi in parts and looking so incredibly bored with the whole thing.

Usually in something like this talented people like those mentioned above will just overact outrageously and feast on a diet of scenery. But Ashanti doesn't even have that going for it.

What an incredible waste of time. The aroma of tax write off is permeating the air.
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Poor, yet not as bad as Caine says
mcnpauls19 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this recently with my wife and discovered it's better than Caine believes, although it's not much cop. Britain's greatest ever screen actor does not seem too interested in this role, which is a pity as he might have elevated it with more conviction in his playing. Rex Harrison seems even less bothered, perhaps unsurprisingly, as his character is very poorly written. William Holden is better, but his screen time is fleeting and, again, his character is not well scripted.

Beverly Johnson is as beautiful a woman as I have ever seen, but is given very little to do, the film might have gained a great deal by concentrating more on her story. Ustinov steals the show, but basically by playing a comic character quite out of keeping with the film's serious tone. The music is poor and Omar Sharif makes one of his many pointless cameos (his career has been based on this for decades now).

Richard Fleischer has to be blamed for not directing this more effectively, he was an infuriatingly unpredictable film director, and this is one of his weaker movies.
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What happened here?
malcp25 February 2008
A woeful lack of pace and equally thin if thankfully minor roles for some notable actors (Harrison, Holden and Sharif) could perhaps be excused if the story was told well enough for us to care about the main events. Despite the inclusion of strong language, violence, cruelty, and even some great acting, this film comes across as an insipid, mediocre and at times almost lighthearted look at the 20th century slave trade. Ustinov plays his role as the evil Suleiman with so much relish, you can't help but like him as one of the few characters with any real depth. Caine works tirelessly to try to pad out his matchstick thin role, but is let down again and again by weak plotting, tedious dialogue and non-existent direction. Is anyone convinced that the child slaves in the desert are as bothered about their situation as he is? Is he really as worried about his wife's situation as Harrison, Holden and Bedi? There are a lot worse films, but few with such a potentially stirring story handled so feebly.
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Exotic as well as entertaining adventure movie based on a novel by the Spanish writer Alberto Vazquez-Figueroa
ma-cortes19 March 2013
¨Ashanti , land of no mercy¨ is an amusing picture with great loads of action , thrills , violence and adventures . It has a passable direction by Richard Fleischer , a superb casting and spectacular scenarios .The picture begins in the following sentence : ¨ Slavery stills exists today ,thousands of people disappeared in Africa last year . This story is based on fact ¨. The film's "Ashanti" title refers to the name of a proud African tribe who fought the Dutch and British armies during the 18th and 19th Centuries , the descendants survived to form the modern African state of Ghana . It deals with a doctor named David Linder (Michael Caine) along with his wife Anansa Linderby (top-model Beverly Johnson, she also was the only female character in the cast) acting as missionary in a medical mission in Africa . When the wife is kidnapped by a slave trader named Suleiman (Peter Ustinov, publicity for the film stated the part was Ustinov's first out-and-out bad guy role in his then thirty-year-long career) begins a relentless pursuit . From this moment the doctor finds himself alone in a battle to rescue her from a band of slave traders . The chase spans many Middle Estern countries and starts to look bleak for our man . Later on , David is helped by Malik (Kabir Bedi of Sandokan ; though Omar Sharif was originally going to play this type role of desert-guide Malik but had to bow out ; instead, Sharif played the smaller role of Prince Hassan), an expert Arab seeking vendetta . Only two men could rescue her , one driven by love, the other by revenge.

In this weak film there are thriller , suspense , emotion , frenetic action and for that reason is amusing . Apparently, the flick is actually allegedly based on a real true-life story . This adventure movie also contains fantastic elements as when the sorcerer boy kills a nasty and has gorgeous moments when the desert pursuit and there appear slavering children . This movie about modern slave-trading was developed, made and released right on the heels of ¨Roots¨, a popular high-rating television series about historical slavery . On a hand it is an enjoyable adventure film , including usual ingredients : deserts , camels , jungles , oasis , Tuaregs and many other things . On the other hand the valuable cast and promising screenplay are undone by sometimes slow pace . The picture is based on a novel with same title by successful Spanish author , an adventure expert and prolific author called Alberto Vazquez Figueroa who gets numerous cinematographic adaptations such as ¨Manaos¨ , ¨The Iguana¨ , ¨Ocean¨ , ¨Oro Negro¨ and ¨Rottweiler¨ . Publicity for this picture stated that the United Nations had at the time the film was theatrically released a Special Committee on Slavery operating within the UN's Human Rights Division. Factual reports on slavery presented to the UN were a key source when author Alberto Vázquez Figueroa wrote this movie's source 1975 novel "Ebano". The picture was distributed by two studios, Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, depending on the territory . Excellent and talented cast as Michael Caine as an unexperienced man who faces off extraordinary dangers , he has said many times that he acted in this film purely for monetary reasons and considers it the worst project , most wretched film he's ever done . In addition , gorgeous supermodel turned actress Beverley Johnson was the first ever African-American model to be featured on the cover of "Vogue" magazine in 1974 . Peter Ustinov goes through familiar role as the villain as well as Omar Sharif . While top-stars are really wasted as Rex Harrison and William Holden as a mercenary , helicopter pilot have little more than cameo characters , this is one of the final feature films for both actors . William Holden accepted a lowly seventh billed role on this picture so he could work on location in his beloved Africa where he owned a safari club . Furthermore , Johnny Sekka , Jean-Luc Bideau and veteran Eric Pohlmann as a swarthy portly man in one of his last acting . Colorful and shimmer cinematography by the Italian Aldo Tonti filmed on location in Israel , Kenya and Sicily, Italy and scenes set in the Sahara Desert in North Africa were actually filmed in the Sinai Desert in Egypt. Director Fleischer and cinematographer Tonti previously worked together on Barrabás . Functional musical score though composed by a TV composer by means of synthesizer .

The motion picture was middling directed by veteran filmmaker Richard Fleischer who replaced Richard C. Sarafian, the film's original director, who dropped out of the production, though the action is in his safe hands . About four years prior to this picture, Richard Fleischer directed another film about slavery called Mandingo. Richard has directed all type of genres , such as classic adventure : ¨Vikings¨ , ¨20.000 leagues under sea¨ , noir cinema : ¨Narrow margin¨, ¨Clay pigeons¨, ¨Trapped¨ and Sci Fi : ¨Fantastic voyage¨ , ¨Soylent Green¨ . However , ¨Ashanti¨ resulted to be a failure at the international Box office , being today better considered .
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Even the actors cannot save it
dbdumonteil25 December 2007
With "Ashanti", Richard Fleischer,one of the most talented (and underrated)American directors hit rock bottom.Was it the same man who made "Clay Pidgeon" and "Follow me quietly" (early period) ,"Violent Saturday" and "the Vikings" (middle) and finally reached a breath-taking maturity with "The Boston Strangler" "10 Rillington Place " or "Solyent green" (which contains what might be the most moving scene in the American movies of the seventies:the death of E.G.Robinson)."Solyent green" was also Fleischer's death as an artist;there's simply not one movie worth seeking out afterward:"Mandingo" "the Don is dead" (A poor man's "Godfather" where Fleischer met up with Quinn he had already directed in his remarkable "Barabba" ) "Conan" or "Amytiville (3D!) are dreadful stuff.

"Ashanti" is no exception in Fleischer's dismal final years.The slave trade which still exists today was a good subject though;after "Mandingo" why not "Ashanti"?But James Mason could not save that movie ;Both Ustinov and Caine ,two veterans of the English cinema ,cannot save "Ashanti.Peter Ustinov gives a tongue in cheek performance,knowing that the only way to deal with such a screenplay is not to take it seriously.Even Omar Sharif comes to the rescue (so to speak).It seems the one mistake that the slave trader made is to have abducted an educated woman (a doctor!).

Too bad a subject so serious should be botched that way.
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There's a reason you've never heard of this movie
Wuchakk13 March 2014
"Ashanti" has loads going for it: Released in 1979, it was directed by Richard Fleischer and stars Michael Caine with an impressive supporting cast, including Peter Ustinov, Omar Shariff, William Holden and Rex Harrison (the latter three in very minor roles). If you're into exotic women there's Beverly Johnson, not to mention great exotic locations -- Israel, Kenya and Sicily (although much of the story takes place in the Sahara Desert). Caine's co-star, Kabir Bedi, is impressive as well.

The story addresses modern-day slavery. Caine's black wife is apprehended by slave-traders and he chases them across the Sahara Desert all the way to the Red Sea. I know of two beautiful women who completely disappeared abroad. What happened to them? Were they apprehended by slavers? Did they become sex slaves? No one knows. The film illustrates this very-real possibility.

"Ashanti" plays like a wannabe "Lawrence of Arabia" but doesn't even come close. It's marred by a horribly dated 70s score whereas the score to "Lawrence" is timeless (even though it's older by about 17 years!!). Plus, "Lawrence" is believable from beginning to end, whereas I found myself mumbling "Yeah, right" numerous times while watching "Ashanti." In other words, too many scenes come off unconvincing or slightly awkward.

BOTTOM LINE: "Ashanti" sounds great on paper but they needed to take more time in the creation process to work out the kinks in the writing, acting, directing and score.

Still, the locations are great, there is a lot of action and the film provokes thought on an important subject. It's definitely worth picking up if you're a Caine fan or if you're into desert-survival flicks, especially since it's so cheap. Same thing if you favor Beverly Johnson (who's not the greatest actress). It's quite a bit better than Caine's similar African adventure "The Wilby Conspiracy" (1975).

The DVD features only a full screen version but the picture is quite good. Unfortunately the menu is cheap, featuring only "Play Movie" and "Trailer;" there isn't even a scene selection option.

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I found every moment of this film interesting and thought provoking.
chemiche12 April 2000
This is a film about modern day slavery and slave trade. At the same time it is a tale about love and how a person would go to all lengths to get back their loved one. Inter-racial marriage may be a touchy issue for some, but I found that it worked perfectly here. Dr. Anansa (a black woman) is kidnapped, and her husband ( a white man) spares nothing to get her back). When I watched the horrors that the captives endured it reminded me of the horrors that African captives endured over the centuries. This film brought out my emotions as I despised the human injustices portrayed. At the same time I could feel the love that the Linderby's had.
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Good Cast in a Little Above Average Product
ragosaal5 November 2006
Richard Fleischer was a very prolific director with a simple style but he was brave enough to enter films in all genres ("The Vikings", "Barabbas", "Compulsion", "Blind Terror", "The Boston Strangler", "Soylent Green", "Tora, Tora, Tora") with very good and acceptable results indeed.

With "Ashanti" he gets a watchable film and a sort of testimonial one dealing with slavery in the XX Century as a pretty female Doctor rendering services for the United Nations among primitive tribes in Africa is kidnapped to be sold in the eastern Arabian markets; her husband goes on a long pursuit of the slave traders to recover her. Shoot in jungle and desert wide-open outdoor locations the film is sort of slow at times but it also has some good moments.

An all star cast is a plus. Michael Caine renders an acceptable performance as the willing husband and model Beverly Johnson does too as his abducted wife. Peter Ustinov steals the show as the fiendish chief slave dealer Suleiman in what is probably the most interesting character in the film. Rex Harrison and William Holden not at the peak of their careers back then make correct appearances in small roles. Omar Shariff and Kabir Bedi are there too.

Not a great film at all but worth a watch in my opinion. It's a 6 out of 10 for me.
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A great film
Kingslaay6 June 2018
Did anyone actually watch this film at face value?

Other than that this is sadly another example of the snowball effect, we can't make our minds up on our own and follow others like sheep.

Ashanti is a great film, packed with a superb class. It tackles a very real issue that might still be present, slavery. It shows how a simple doctor and love for his wife will see him go to great lengths to rescue her. The performances are very good from a very strong cast who execute a deep and bold story. A true gem of a film that if you somehow discover it, it will be a real treat to watch.
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a cheap-feeling, much-maligned revisit of David Lean territory
Aylmer27 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
ASHANTI is one of those films that has plenty of excellent little moments (Caine rescuing the children and having to abandon them in the desert, the small boy's and the gorgeous Ms. Johnson's escape attempt, and Kabir Bedi getting revenge on an old enemy) but overall is a fairly dreadful mess of a film. The main problem is in its execution. Nobody seems too excited about this potentially quite exciting material, including the director and most of the cast.

Although he does steal the film, Peter Ustinov feels tremendously out of place to me as he channels a lot of the same larger-than-life pathetic / comedic energy he displayed as the villain in Disney's animated ROBIN HOOD and as the Caliph in THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD made around the same time. It just doesn't fit in with the dark and serious undertones of the film, and how everyone else underplays as much as he overplays.

The direction by the usually reliable Richard Fleischer is adequate but filled with moments of bizarre incompetence, such as the final showdown on the boat with Bedi just standing there waiting to get shot. There's plenty of other flaws including some bad dubbing, poor special effects involving an airplane crash, a dreary and dated musical score, and a lot of uninspired cinematography.

While the cast is certainly top notch, featuring Omar Sharif returning to LAWRENCE OF ARABIA territory along with the Indian actor he famously shot at the beginning of that movie (marking the start of his international career), most of the performances are unbelievably weak. Rex Harrison and William Holden seem wholly unenthusiastic about every bit of dialog, while star Michael Caine goes through the entire film with an annoyed wince on his face, like he just can't wait to cash his paycheck and get back to England and out of the sun.

Nicely, this film takes place almost entirely outdoors and showcases some splendid African locations. The pacing is fairly leaden but picks up later in the film, and Kabir Bedi's performance as Caine's vengeful guide ranks among his best and gives the film an air of gravity and authenticity. Not to mention Beverly Johnson is one of the most outrageously attractive women ever filmed, so her scenes alone are worth the price of admission.

Writer Alberto Vasquez Figueroa covered similar ground involving modern slavery in the period pieces MANAOS and IGUANA which are both worth checking out for those lucky enough to find them. He also wrote TUAREG THE DESERT WARRIOR, one of the few more original Italian B-movies from the early 80's (as in not an obvious cash-in) featuring some similarly fascinating expose on North African culture, though distilled into cheap action movie conventions and the odd casting of NCIS's Mark Harmon as an African chieftain (??)! Of all Figueroa's works, this may be the one to reach the widest theatrical audience and fail the hardest, but I can appreciate it along with all his other works for their relative originality.
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Well, it certainly isn't Lawrence of Arabia but..
ColonelFaulkner21 May 2011 wasn't all that bad. 'Ashanti' has contrivance, plot holes, implausibility and more, not to mention plenty of cliché and stereotyping, while a single sentence can describe the plot; 'White husband pursues across Africa his hot black wife and her abductors who intend to sell her into slavery to wealthy Arabs'. Done. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, but actually I found this quite watchable and pretty entertaining.

Certainly it isn't great and I may even be being slightly generous in giving it a seven, but it was pretty light, didn't seem to take itself too seriously and if other viewers don't take it too seriously either then I doubt they'll be disappointed. Sure, this will never make any 'must see' list, but it wasn't a waste of a couple of hours and Michael Caine was far too harsh in his own criticisms of it. He must have had bigger expectations of it being some epic which it didn't live up to.

It's worth a look.
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Deserves to be more widely seen
HEFILM14 April 2006
An obscure film, but so what? IF you do find it give it a look

The worst element may be lousy music score really knocks this down several stars. But at least there isn't a lot of music.

Does Caine really think this is worse than BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, BLAME IT ON RIO, JAWS 4, THE SWARM, or even the recent THE WEATHERMAN? He was probably really hot on location and that's all he remembers. Good to great actor though he is, this isn't really in his worst 10, not in his best 10 either's well worth watching.

He does seem to have chemistry with the wife character and there is a memorable scene with him and a bunch of slaves who don't want him to leave them. Also an early scene involving his wife's abduction is very well done--so the story gets off to a good start.

Director Fleischer was friends with Rex Harrison, who is just fine in the film, and Holden is okay too. This film always remains interesting even it may not catch fire--it actually drags in the middle but has a pretty lively wrap up--but everyone treats it with seriousness. A noble cause sort of thing.

It may well be the last really serious role Ustinov had certainly one of his few villain performances. Shariff is also good and helps juice up the ending.

The photography is beautiful and the locations are very well used, too bad it sort of stumbles around about a third of the way in. It has a good sense of place in the details throughout.

Aside from a blandly shot helicopter crash the action, what there is of it, is well done. I believe Fleischer took this over from another director and probably deserves credit for what's good about the film more than what's weak.

Worth a look, though the ancient full frame VHS doesn't do it justice in 2014 a good looking DVD finally became available.
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Films like this remind us that a good hobby is essential
screenman19 March 2006
There seem to have been any number of films like this released during the 70's. And the fact that I cannot recollect the title to a single one of them off-hand is a measure of their impact. These are what novelists would call 'pot-boilers'. They are scarcely more than a vehicle for keeping movie-stars in the public eye.

We have Micheal Caine, Peter Ustinov, Omar Sharif, Rex Harrison and William Holden; more than enough names to get bums on cinema seats. Every taste in hero is catered for. Though one suspects that most of the audience still went away disappointed.

Their talents are simply thrown away, and I wonder that stars with so much money and such reputation can be yet so desperate or lacking in good sense. This sort of movie hardly adds gilding to a CV. Sometimes maybe actors should choose their director instead of the other way round.

It was pretty obvious that it would be crap even from the outset. That ludicrously mismatched jaunty-jazz theme music, which also percolated up every time some incidental noise is needed, had all the atmospheric conviction of elevator Muzak. Who imagined employing a jazz band when a scene depicted the steamy jungles of central Africa, or the endless Sahara with camels and palms as a backdrop? Definitely a serious goof-ball. Ennio Morricone would have known what to do; and his results would have oozed enough atmosphere and tension to raise my rating a good two points. This director should have taken the trouble to watch 'Lawrence of Arabia', or even Sergio Leone's westerns; he might have learnt a few things. But then again, probably he wouldn't.

Alfred Hitchcock played the disappearing wife theme to good effect in his film 'Frantic'. It was later remade with equal panache staring Harrison Ford. In each case the confusion surrounding her loss and the tension of the chase was tangible. Here, when Michael Caine might be otherwise compelled to employ a little brain and bravado, Rex Harrison kept popping-up out of no-where like some wily old genii, to put him back on track whenever the narrative stumbled.

At least the photography was rather good, with excellent use of the often beautiful environment. But then the dumb music must pipe-up and blow to atoms what little ambiance this created.

Action scenes were also contrived and stilted, with such ineptly choreographed fight sequences that they might have been staged in a first-year drama class. And, of course, the players must fight to a jazz accompaniment - as you do.

And that's about as much comment as this item deserves. Except to say that the script was pretty wretched as well.

Stick with your hobby on this one. Even if it contained your favourite movie-stars, you're sure to be disappointed too.
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Don't bother
pilot100930 March 2019
Michael Caine says his worst film was The Swarm but this must be close second. Plot holes bigger than the Sahara and rubbish acting by actors that should know better. AVOID if you can.
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A Fairly Interesting Action Movie
Uriah4313 November 2013
While helping her husband, "Dr. David Linderby" (Michael Caine) vaccinate an isolated African village "Dr. Anansa Linderby" (Beverly Johnson) is kidnapped by slave traders. But before the notorious leader named "Suleiman" (Peter Ustinov) can collect his money for her his small party must first travel 3000 miles across Africa to a port in the Red Sea. Realizing that David is going to need all the help he can get to rescue his wife, an anti-slavery official named "Brian Walker" (Rex Harrison) arranges to have a mercenary by the name of "Jim Sandell" (William Holden) and later a desert nomad named "Malik" (Kabir Bedi) to assist. But time is of the essence and Africa is a big continent. Anyway, rather than detail the entire plot and risk spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it I will just say that this was a fairly interesting action movie. Both Michael Caine and Peter Ustinov performed rather well but it was Kabir Bedi who really stole the show. I also enjoyed the scenery provided by Beverly Johnson. On the flip side though, I thought the enormous talents of Rex Harrison, William Holden and Omar Sharif (as "Prince Hassan") weren't fully utilized as much as they should have been. Even so, this was an enjoyable movie for the most part and I rate it as slightly above average.
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A cracking yarn let down by the use of stereotype
imdb-304627 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
There have been far too few mainstream films set in post-colonial Africa, and the ones that have are a mixed bunch. This one, with its altruistic pretensions to expose slavery in the 1970s, shows the best and worst values of Africa, which turn out not to be too different to the values of humanity as a whole. It also has shortcomings, given the undue influence of western pre-conceptions of Africans and, especially, Arabs.

Dr Anansa Linderby, the beautiful African-American wife of the English doctor David Linderby, is captured by Arab slave-traders, along with a teenage Sanufu girl and a young boy. The lead slave-trader, Suleiman, is every bit the stage Arab, with his flowery and sometimes humorous rhetoric, and gestures to match - which would not be out of place on "Carry On Follow that Camel" but are not up the standard this film deserves. Peter Ustinov of course had more than enough skills to address some of the shortcomings of the script, and he rescued what could otherwise have been a woeful one-dimensional character.

Continuing the stereotypical theme, all three of Suleiman's Arab employees are unintelligent and one has paedophilic tendencies towards the boy, which thankfully are not portrayed on the screen.

One of David's first ports of call is the local police officer, a stereotypical pompous and incompetent African bureaucrat. David then meets two stereotypical white ex-pats, an Englishman (Walker, played by Rex Harrison) and an American (Sandell, played by William Holden). Sandell is a mercenary with "conventional" views on mixed-race relationships, who initially refuses to help unless David provides payment up front. Won over by David's love for Anansa, and conscious of his own inability to find love, he agrees to take David up in his helicopter to help search for Anansa. They find Suleiman and his captives crossing the border and are unable to pursue them into the neighbouring territory - as a result of Sandell's hesitation and David's lack of experience with firearms, his helicopter is shot down but David survives.

We then see David introduced to Malik (Kabir Bedi), an African who has lost his family to Suleiman and is now only driven by vengeance. They find the Sanufu girl with a group of Tuareg and know they are on the right track to find Suleiman.

In one of the most heart-rending scenes they kill a party of slave traders only to find that it was not Suleiman's group, and have no choice but to send their captives to the Tuaregs they met earlier.

Later on we discover that the young boy who had been raped is a witch doctor and, in an excellent scene with supernatural overtones, he uses his knowledge to kill one of Suleiman's henchmen. Anansa on her part - and despite the scepticism of the boy - manages to engineer the demise of Suleiman's two other employees.

By this time Suleiman and his slaves are within days of reaching the slave market.

Suleiman, now in no doubt that Anansa is "trouble", attempts to sell her to an obscenely wealthy Arab prince (Omar Sharif) who is corrupt but intelligent. On discovering that Anansa is an American working for the U.N., the prince rather unwisely decides to carry on with the bargaining without considering the consequences. The scene where the two men haggle is one of the best in the film.

At the slave market, the young boy is sold to a middle-aged German paedophile, and we are left to guess whether the boy will still be considered "wunderbar" when his owner is on the receiving end of his witch-doctoring skills.

David and Malik finally confront Suleiman and there is a bitter-sweet ending from Malik's point of view.

Ultimately, David and Anansa are re-united, and Malik, whose life is in ruins, can console himself with having seen the task he set himself completed.

The overall plot of the film is excellent but it loses marks for its stereotypical portrayal of nearly all the leading characters. Credit must go to all the leading actors for addressing many of the shortcomings of the scripting.
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Hitting rock bottom
MOscarbradley5 August 2007
The worst, and chock full of people who really ought to know better, (the cast have six Oscars between them). It's set in 'contemporary' Africa, (it was made in 1979), and is about the slave trade. It's appallingly scripted and acted, (Michael Caine, Peter Ustinov and William Holden reach a career low in this one), and completely lacks excitement never mind any moral focus. It's also ludicrously plotted. You don't for a minute believe that any of the characters would behave in the way they do under these circumstances. Richard Fleischer directs but you get the impression it was over the telephone. This is as bad as it gets.
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A star studded African adventure movie
Cristi_Ciopron27 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think there are several things that make this film worth watching:its actors (no less than six famous artists:Michael Caine,daddy Peter Ustinov,Harrison and Holden,Kabir Bedi and Sharif),its director (Richard Fleischer) and the appealing Beverly Johnson as Anansa Linderby.

Ashanti (1979) is somehow a sequel to the Victor Mature African adventure movies,and a worthy contemporary of Piedone d'Egitto (1979) and Piedone l'Africano (1978);it is also,if we want to situate it into the world of the African adventures, a prequel to a Catherine Deneuve adventure flick like L'Africain .It had the chance of a magnificent cast,and the result is unassuming,but well paced and thrilling.It certainly possesses and affirms a camp quality,a crap note,a rubbish hint that make it very enjoyable.It is the adventure,through pastures, air,desert and Touareg caravans,settlements,of the man who follows a frightful and comical merchant,daddy Ustinov,the abductor of his wife (the enthralling Negress Beverly Johnson,then in her 20s).

The cast of Ashanti (1979)is plainly Pantagruelic and fairy like:six vigorous,experienced and virile actors,that can be distributed into three couples:1=the leading tandem (Michael Caine vs. Ustinov);2=the colonial couple (the oldish Holden and Harrison);and 3=the exotic couple (Kabir Bedi and Sharif).Except them,there is the beautiful woman, Beverly Johnson,and countless lesser roles and bit parts.

William Holden was 61,and towards the end of his career,when he appeared in Ashanti (1979). Sir Michael Caine was very involved in the adventure movies at the end of the '70s:an actor in the middle of his 40s, Michael Caine made The Eagle Has Landed (1976), A Bridge Too Far (1977), The Swarm (1978), Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979),many physical roles.But after The Ipcress File (1965), Alfie (1966), Battle of Britain (1969), The Italian Job (1969) and Get Carter (1971),he must have felt his work in the late '70s as a decline and a humiliation,an underbelly of his career.Anyway, "Ashanti" is not his undermost film;I would suggest that this shame belongs to the inane and inadvisable The Last Valley (1971).I guess there are few the actors that have made roles in so many films that are now considered as cult movies,from The Ipcress File (1965) and Alfie (1966) to Educating Rita (1983) and Jaws: The Revenge (1987) ,his career is the very career of a cult actor ;unavoidable fact,he also made a few very wrong choices,with movies that are worst than unassuming .Again anyway,in the late '70s he began to dislike his physical roles,and this is visible in "Ashanti".While his role in Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) is excellent,he is viscous,stark and insipid, starchy, involuntary displeasing in "Ashanti".Whenever he dislikes a role or film,Caine shows it:he looks contemptuous,aloof and quaint.In this respect, Ustinov and Sharif are more professional.But Michael Caine felt he was underused;for a long time this man was the favorite for B action movies,a privilege that he not always enjoyed.In Ashanti (1979),Caine manages to give his lines an insulting imbecility.Ashanti (1979) is not his worst movie,in fact it is certainly and frankly better than his The Last Valley (1971) made at the peak of his career;but it seems to be one of his worst roles.

The plump,merry and ruddy wag Peter Ustinov is a dumpy,gesticulating slave trader.Caine is,as I said,sullen and bored.Sharif is fine as the abominable rascal;the well shaved and suffering Rex Harrison,the brawny ,keen and revengeful Kabir Bedi as a wild adventurer complete the cast.The exoticism is brought in this thrilling masquerade mainly by Beverly Johnson,Ustinov and Bedi.Ashanti (1979)contains also a pleasing brimful of nudity.

Richard Fleischer was 63 when he directed this film.He is,however,the author of 20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954),Violent Saturday (1955),Crack in the Mirror (1960),Fantastic Voyage (1966),The Boston Strangler (1968) and Mr. Majestyk (1974),Amityville 3-D (1983),Conan the Destroyer (1984) and Red Sonja (1985);so,hail him!
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Compelling Underreported Current Subject Matter, Good but Misses the Mark
commortis20 March 2006
My rating considers the subject matter, modern-day slavery (!), some good photography ( captives walking through Lawrence's desert, a couple of good cameos), and gives Caine, and the director, a pass for execution. I agree that there could have been a much better musical score, however, this film tickled my imagination when I first saw it in 1980; not just about how it could have been a better film, but simply by the fact that slavery, and a slave trade, continues to exist: a fact later confirmed and documented by activists as recently as 2001. As this film was originally released in 1979, I wonder how much of a budget the film would have had it been made more recently, in light of current knowledge about this phenomenon. I have ordered this film to be included in my collection. Some films' impact is only realized over time, perhaps with repeat viewings, or some time after viewing to consider their whole; some have their greatest impact upon first or second viewing, with subsequent consideration or viewing either reducing said impact, or by that impact's simply not continuing to swell. This is a film that, while it didn't continue to grow in significance for me, neither did its significance decline. It could certainly have been better, and it's unfortunate that Michael Caine, an actor whose work I largely admire, wasn't happy to have worked on this film, but I do believe that it is much better than many other b- films to be found.
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Racial bias; good acting
mgoldberg1018 July 2006
The story at the outset is interesting: slavery in the (late) 20th century from west Africa to the Arab Middle East. The problem with it is that it intentionally castigates two of director Richard Fleisher's favorite enemies: Arabs and Germans. To make us believe that very Arab-looking men would be free to roam around and easily catch Blacks in West Africa is as believable as Whites hunting for slaves in "Roots". Obviously both trades are/were run by locals and involve(d) much more sophisticated networks. While Arab countries are complicit in today's child and sex slave trade, Israel is one of the worst violators according to Amnesty International. So why only point out Arabs and then choose a German as the only European buyer? It's obvious bias and hatred of those people by a Jewish director.

The acting is above average, especially by Peter Ustinov (Suleiman) and Kabir Bedi (Malik). Michael Caine (Dr. Linderby) is good as always.
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Why was this great African adventure on such an interesting story such a failure?
clanciai9 April 2016
At a first glance there is nothing wrong with anything in this picture, the story is excellent and of vital interest, the actors are on the whole prominent, no one does anything wrong, the music is also quite OK, and the scenery is magnificent, – but what then is missing? Michael Caine in the lead has called it the worst film he ever made, but there is nothing wrong with his acting, even though you can trace a slight lack of interest and passion, which is what he professes as the husband of the violated bride. Peter Ustinov makes the most of his character the villain, an abominable slave trader counting every human life as worthless unless he can sell it for money and even succeeds in making this monster of a human trafficker look ridiculous - it's actually a caricature. William Holden has the briefest but also the most interesting part, a role typical for him, in which he shines and develops a profound interest only to become the first and most regrettable casualty, like a typical Holden hero. Rex Harrison is as sly as always and also makes the best of his diplomatic business in doing what he can to temper and prepare Michael Caine for his quest, while the most fascinating figure is Kabir Bedi as Malik, a copy of Omar Sharif's Ali in "Lawrence of Arabia", who has another tragic and heroic story to tell – and ends as regretfully as William Holden. Omar Sharif is credible enough as Prince Hassan, and his eloquence and gentlemanly demeanor almost makes you hope for some humanity in him, but he absconds as soon as he sees that his game is up.

The actor left for us to dissect is Beverly Johnson as the leading lady, and here is the evident flaw. She is good in the beginning as the doctor and wife and even better as Peter Ustinov's bullied slave, but when it comes to the final critical point she loses everything, and suddenly you understand Michael Caine's lack of interest in her, although they married for love. which he insists on but which no one can believe, least of all William Holden. I am sorry, but she is not a good actress. If she had acted up to the part written for her, inspired Michael Caine to the passion needed to chase her all over Africa, and if she had been just anything more than only a cliché Ashanti beauty, the film would have been a success. One suspects that the director Franklin Schaffner, who has made a number of outstanding films, rather soon during the shooting noticed she was not enough for her part and lost interest himself, to finish the film just to fulfill the contract. Pity, because it's a great story.
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