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!
1 out of 4 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.