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Knightriders is the story of a troupe of motorcyclists who are members of a traveling Renaissance Faire. They move from town to town staging full medieval jousting tournaments with combatants in suits of armor, wielding lances, battle-axes, maces and broadswords. The spectacle of this magnificent pageant soon garners national attention much to the dismay of the current king of this Camelot.
For more about Knightriders and the Knightriders Blu-ray release, see Knightriders Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 22, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ed Harris, Tom Savini, Gary Lahti, Patricia Tallman, Martin Ferrero, Scott Reiniger
Director: George A. Romero
» See full cast & crew
Knightriders Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 22, 2013
George A. Romero's "Knightriders" (1981) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailer and TV spots; audio commentary with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, actor John Amplas, and Christine Romero; and video interviews with actors Ed Harris, Tom Savini, and Patricia Tallman. The release also arrives with a 36-page illustrated booklet featuring: "The Knights of King George" by Brad Stevens; "Swashbuckling Symphony: An Interview with Donald Rubinstein" conducted by Calum Waddell; and "Knight After Night With George Romero" by Dan Yakir. Also included is a reversible cover with original poster art. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
There is enough material in George A. Romero's Knightriders for two different films. The first would have been a nice retro comedy, possibly something similar to Jean-Marie Poiré's Les visiteurs. I am unsure about the second one. It could have been a road film, perhaps something similar to Jerry Schatzberg's Scarecrow. Or a cheap Easy Rider copycat.
As it is, Knightriders falls somewhere between Richard Rush's Hells Angels on Wheels and John Brahm's Hot Rods to Hell. One part of it wants to be serious, but quickly confuses the viewer because most of the time the actors act as if Romero never told them what type of film there were making. There is another part, however, that is as unpredictable as the jungles of Brazil – it is so wild and so kitschy that at times it looks like half the cast was on drugs while Romero was shooting.
I like the first part better. It is more serious and makes some sense. Here the leader of a troupe of traveling medieval entertainers slowly begins to realize that in America you have to pay in order to be free. But he does not want to pay and gradually forces his men to begin questioning his authority. Convinced that freedom should not have a price tag, the leader of the entertainers urges those who disagree with his views to leave the troupe. And many of them do, only to eventually realize that their leader was right. All of this is filmed in a way suggesting that Romero might have been deeply influenced by the classic story about King Arthur and his knights.
The second part is strange. There are unusually long sequences where the entertainers dress in medieval costumes, jump on their bikes and clash in front of some pretty wild crowds. Some of the fights are rather well filmed, but there are some very strange characters amongst the spectators. Some are drunk, some look stoned. Some are just trying to act but can't and it definitely shows. Out of nowhere even a suspiciously happy Steven King joins the party and utters some truly bizarre lines. There is also a really wacky photo shoot where one of the top bikers gets half naked. And elsewhere there is a surprisingly revealing sequence where the troupe's top magician has a wild pizza party with a slightly overweight but very enthusiastic photographer.
The poor editing really is the film's biggest weakness. The basic idea behind it is very interesting, but the film desperately needs some balance. For a while the clashes are entertaining but then they become tedious because they make it virtually impossible to care about the main protagonists and their dilemmas. And when they become serious it feels like they are overreacting, when it is actually the secondary characters and their wild behavior that is out of sync with the rest of the film. Ed Harris and Tom Savini are the only two actors that make an impression. The former, in particular, is very convincing as the idealistic leader of the entertainers.
Knightriders was lensed by cinematographer Michael Gornick, who also collaborated with Romero on the genre films Martin (1976), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Creepshow (1982), and Day of the Dead (1985).
Knightriders Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.84:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, George A. Romero's Knightriders arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Arrow Video.
There are no traces of excessive denoising corrections. Edge-enhancement is also not a serious issue of concern. Color reproduction is also very good - there is a good range of warm but very natural blues, greens, reds, browns, and grays. Needless to say, the film has a very solid and very pleasing organic look. When blown through a digital projector, depth and especially fluidity are certainly some of the best I've seen on older films in Arrow Video's catalog. Close-ups in particular are often quite wonderful (see screencapture #4). There is no edge flicker. Also, there are no large damage marks, debris, cuts, or stains (I only noticed a couple of extremely small flecks). Lastly, there are no serious compression anomalies to report in this review. To sum it all up, this is a very solid organic presentation of Knightriders which is guaranteed to please fans of the film. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Knightriders Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Arrow Video have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The lossless track is excellent. It has a very good range of nuanced dynamics that effectively enhance the many action sequences throughout the film. Donald Rubinstein's score also gets a strong boost. The dialog is exceptionally clean, stable, and always easy to follow. There are no pops, cracks, audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review.
Knightriders Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Knightriders Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you are a fan of George A. Romero's work but have never before seen Knightriders, my advice is to find a way to rent it first. I think that one has to be in a certain state of mind to enjoy it. If you have already seen the film and like it, place your orders with confidence - Knightriders looks beautiful in high-definition. As usual, Arrow Video have also included a wealth of supplemental features as well as a very elegant 36-page illustrated booklet.
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Knightriders Blu-ray, News and Updates
• George A. Romero's Knightriders Officially Announced - March 14, 2013
Arrow Video has officially announced and detailed their upcoming Dual Format edition of George A. Romero's Knightriders (1981), starring Ed Harris, Gary Lahti, Tom Savini, and Patricia Tallman. The release will be available for purchase on April 22.
Knightriders Blu-ray Screenshots
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