21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
My rule of thumb concerning presentation format. If you have a choice between widescreen and full screen, always purchase the widescreen. However, if the film is only available in full screen and it's one you really want, you buy the full screen and put up with it until a widescreen version comes out to replace it. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. With that said I'll comment on the movie.
Being the movie buff that I am, I'm embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of 'Ashanti' until I puchased it recently. The selling factor for me was the inclusion of Beverly Johnson in the cast. Upon my initial viewing I was delightfully surprised to discover that this is actually an extremely good and timely film. The existence of a modern day slave traders and the ever rising numbers of unaccounted for missing persons has received alot of media coverage in the U.S.A. this past year. It's a harsh reality, but it's the truth nonetheless, slavery continues to flourish in the twenty-first century. Odd how this '79 film could so accutely tap into our awakening consciousness of this worldwide scandal so relevant today.
'Ashanti' is a well conceived, highly entertaining action/adventure and love story of one man's relentless search for this kidnapped Ashanti wife. He pursues the slave trader Suleiman across the slavery routes of Africa and Arabia with the aid of the enigmatic, nomadic warrior Malik who lost his family years earlier to the same slave trader.
The cinematograpy is gorgeous which makes it a real shame that this DVD is full screen (sorry had to make another comment on format). The screenplay is brutally honest, at times sadly poignant and will keep you engaged until the very end. 'Ashanti' also boasts a cast of international stars that deliver admirable if not outstanding performances. My personal favorites were; Kabir Bedi in the role of Malik and of course the devastatingly beautiful and exotic Beverly Johnson as the kidnapped Anansa.
Negatives: One of the worst muscial soundtracks I've ever heard. It sounds like something that belongs in a very bad '70's television series. Also disappointing was the ending. Up until the last ten minutes I would have given this film -5 Stars-. What were they thinking?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It's strange that a man with the likes of Jaws - The Revenge, The Jigsaw Man, Blue Ice, The Holcroft Covenant, On Deadly Ground and Bullseye, not to mention two Harry Alan Towers movies on his resume should dismiss Ashanti as his worst picture, because Michael Caine's done a LOT shoddier (check out Geoffrey Reeve's strikingly inept Shadow Run if you want to see just how much shoddier). Not that it's particularly good, but even though it comes from the late Richard Fleischer's I'll-do-anything days and features cameos from actors out to top-up their pension funds (Rex Harrison) or who just happened to be in Kenya anyway (William Holden), this somewhat pedestrian modern-day slavery picture that sees Caine's WHO Doctor (insert pun here) tracking down his kidnapped wife (model-turned-very-bad-actress Beverly Johnson) before comical slave-trader Peter Ustinov can sell her to Harvard-educated smoothie prince ("Would you like a cucumber sandwich?") is at least watchable in a wallpaper kind of way. Caine certainly looks the wrong kind of pissed off throughout, but the guest stars bring a spot of old school professional star power to the proceedings, Ustinov has fun with his villainy while Kabir Bedi provides a bit of intensity as Caine's reluctant and vengeful guide, and there's a host of familiar faces from British films of the 50s and 60s like Marne Maitland, Eric Pohlman, Johnny Sekka and Zia Mohyeddin rounding out the supporting cast. It always looks good thanks to Aldo Tonti's photography, though Don Black's cheesy lyrics for the end title song are typically laughable.
Be warned that the DVD is very shoddy - both the original UK DVD from Mosaic and the original US US disc are only a poor panned-and-scanned transfer of a Scope film, and in the UK disc's case one taken from a very heavily and visibly cut TV print. If you can find it, the French PAL DVD has a good remastered 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with removeable subtitles (except for a brief bit of opening text) and theatrical trailer.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2008
This is a dull, full-screen version of a 70s international thriller that might merit some attention if it looked better. It's pretty lame, but not really cheesy save for Ustinov's buffoonish clowning which belongs in a different picture. The great William Holden shows up for maybe a day's work -- he's supposed to be a cynical mercenary and crack helicopter pilot, but comes across more like a craggy old-timer going 40 in the fast lane oblivious to the fact that his turn signal's on. Much better is Rex Harrison turning in a tart cameo. He seems to have wondered in from a Graham Greene adaptation and he's welcome. Caine wears a Paddington Bear hat for the first third. You'll note his final confrontation with the villain of the piece is almost the same as in The Wilby Conspiracy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2008
Michael Caine and Peter Ustinov are great in this intriguing film that is full of beautiful scenery and great adventure. As Michael Caine's character searches for his wife who was kidnapped by slave traders, Peter Ustinov's character is busy making it difficult. The story is relevant to this day as slave trade continues throughout the world. There is some insight into how these slave trading groups work and renders the need to this day for more international attention to the problem. A great movie!
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2005
Like Michael Caine? If so this is a must have. I'd never heard of this movie now I recommend it to everyone. As time goes by we let some good stuff slip threw the cracks. Talk about an allstar cast...Peter Ustinov, Omar Sharif, William Holden and a VERY BEAUTIFUL BEVERLY JOHNSON. You have Vodoo, a very interesting story and great acting, what more do you want. Try getting that at your local movie theatre. I thought the DVD looked great motion menus, biographies and all.
21 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2005
I just bought the UK version of the DVD, which I really hope, won't be duplicated in the NTSC version.
Not so much for the quality of the picture (which is discreet, even if in a banal Full-Screen presentation) or the sound (plain and dull 2.0 Stereo), but because I am tired, REALLY TIRED, to see movie transferred on DVD in a Full Screen format.
To me, allow me to say this, DVD is meant for the entire piocture resolution and format.
If you, the production companies and distributors, are not able to come up with something better than the same version already on VHS tapes, than just forget it and don't produce this stuff anymore.
It's a waste of time and money. Your time and your money at that, but also ours. And Heaven knows if the economy is at a point where someone has still the right to squander money.
To produce a DVD, one needs serious research of the sources, lots of patience cleaning a movie up, for a better picture and sound resolution, and the money to do so.
Just slamming a video copy on a DVD doesn't do it for the real collector or the true movie connaisseur.
You all do (you producers and you distributors), all so often, treat us (the customers and viewers) as if we were plain imbeciles, cretins or complete idiots, which in some cases maybe true.
But to assume that because out there, there are a few suckers, willing to throw their money at you without any question asked, all the rest of the viewers, which are actually the majority (but you don't even bother to notice), would do the same, is plainly offensive.
I actually know why "Ashanti" is redestributed in this format on DVD (at least the UK copy).
Already in 1979, the year in which it was produced, the producer had to struggle for distribution.
It represented a competition to Hollywood, by an independent and until then, unkown producer.
Although this may not be considered a masterpiece of a movie, it is still a good and entertaining one, tackling with a subject that many have tried to avoid for years: Modern Slavery.
I may not be surprised to know hat behind all the reticence to distribute the movie, was a wealthy Arab, feeling offended by the thematic contained in it. We all know they have the means to do something like this.
They have done so for years and we have allowed them to do so because of the money. These gentlemen are very clever. They don't need to wage war against us. They just need to blackmail us with oil embargos, or withdraw their dominant capitals from our banks, and we are on our knees.
Knowing that, they have played around with us, and our weak Governments, for decades.
Unfortunately for these Gentlemen, not all of us, are suckers or wide-eyed believers of good will, and some even manage to read between the lines and discover the things they don't want us to see, or to know.
Culture, is a true damnation, to such individuals, who try to play on the "clever" note. Being clever, doesn't necessarily mean that one is also very intelligent.
Actually this is exactly the assumption of many "clever men", who always try to outsmart the truly intelligent one with their gimmicks and their stupid tricks.
It is very unfortunate that such individuals truly think that in the long run, they will rule the world and the market, since experience and hundreds of years of history have only proven the exact contrary.
In their immense ignorance, all they manage to produce, is the perpetuation of their mistakes, and in their arrogance (which is the true trait of the ignorant) they don't see that they are only achieving very little for a very limited amount of time.
Here I come back to this little effort of distributing "Ashanti" on DVD.
Quite frankly I hope, that the U.S. version will be in its original 1.35:1 format and digitally remastered for a surround sound (even just a conventional one).
My three stars are just limited to the work contained in the movie and the cast who played in it.
The British DVD version is just another blunt excuse to rip our hard earned money out of our pockets.
Stay away from it and wait for the U.S. release.
But before you buy it, read whether or not it is in Widescreen or not. if it is not, don't even bother.
The scope of this movie and the scenery itself require both that this picture be viewed in a theatrical format.
Be aware of what you buy and what you get.
It is your money, not theirs.
on September 26, 2010
This movie is great and thought provoking. It shows the resilience of the black race to fight injustice. We should also be mindful that slavery, like cancer, still exists all over the world and its about time the world came together to combact this henious crime.
on July 14, 2008
story of people in an unusual setting under peculiar circumstances. Several dilemmas are presented here.....love/revenge, self/others, need/want and fortune/misfortune. How far will one go to get what they want or what think they need.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2011
Despite having all the ingredients of an Epic, this movie fails to deliver due to poor acting and direction. Even the big name starcasts could not make it any better. All through the movie, it seemed like people involved with this project were not serious about their jobs other than just to get-it-over-with, subsequently restricting this promising venture to a mere lacklustre affair. It's a real pity. And the bare-bone DVD transfer is also not mention worthy.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2008
"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.