Fire and Ice (1983)
By: Mr Intolerance on September 6, 2009  | 
Beyond Home Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.66:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 2.0. 78 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Ralph Bakshi
Starring: Randy Norton, Cynthia Leake, Steve Sandor, Sean Hannon, Leo Gordon, William Ostrander
Screenplay: Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Rotoscoping: the process by where real life actors are painted over by animators, in order to make the resulting animation look more realistic, and to give the characters greater fluidity of movement. Alternately, you can vary the depth to which you add the paint in order to highlight the unnatural aspects of the character. Alternately again, you can add things in that don't literally exist (the light-sabre blades in the original Star Wars films, for example). A time-consuming process back in the old days, these days it's much simpler to do the whole thing on computer. You've seen rotoscoping whether you were aware of it or not – if you're of a certain vintage, if you think back to Saturday morning cartoons like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe or Flash Gordon, or indeed the animated and under-rated colossal flop feature film The Lord of the Rings. Or indeed, here.

"Long ago, at the end of the last great Ice Age, there arose in the North a powerful queen. Her name was Juliana, and her ambition was to extend her realm to all the regions of the known world. To this end, she gathered an army, and she bore a son and named him Nekron, and tutored him in the black arts and in the powers of the mind. And when Nekron came of age, and attained mastery of those powers, together they seized control of the region of Ice, and from their castle called Ice Peak, they sent a giant glacier rumbling Southwards – no village or people could stand against its relentless onslaught. And so the remnants of humanity fled south and huddled for warmth amid the volcanoes in the mountain regions ruled by a generous King named Jaroll from his fortress which men called Fire Keep. And still Nekron pushed the ice ever southward into the temperate zone toward Fire Keep, and no-one dared guess at the outcome of a meeting on the field of battle between Fire and Ice."

And there's your histrionic opening narration. And your backstory, because otherwise you would have possibly had to put up with an action-slowing scene of expository dialogue – better to get it all done at once. Nekron's (who bears a striking resemblance to Michael Moorcock's anti-hero Elric of Melnibone) glacier pounds the shit out of the village of our homeboy Larn (who in the fine tradition of sword and sorcery heroes, is built like a condom full of walnuts, and gets about the place in a pair of furry undies and ugg boots – he looks like a more muscular version of a member of Manowar), who is knocked unconscious while Nekron's shock-troops, the troglodytic Sub-humans kill and pillage (it really sucks to be a barbarian villager in these films – so many massacres…). Larn wakes and we get some reasonably violent action scenes and a chase. Juliana send some emissaries to Jarol to deliver her thoroughly unreasonable demands, with an eye to kidnapping the eye-poppingly buxom and scantily-clad Princess Teegra (the "clothes" she's wearing would fair dinkum make a whore blush).

Teegra is kidnapped and Jarol and his son display an interesting take on diplomatic relations (not unlike Aragorn's response to the Mouth of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), eventually steeling themselves for the inevitable siege that will occur when Nekron knows that his demands are not going to be met. Teegra eludes her not-so-bright captors using her feminine charms (hey, you can't blame them – they're hardly the first fellas to be led astray by a fine pair of boobies), but she's lost in the forest (I'm assuming Bakshi was using the same matte artists as in his earlier The Lord of the Rings – it has a very similar look and feel to it), and not exactly equipped for survival, unless it was survival in a harem or a titty-bar. She'd survive admirably there.

Probably should mention the extraordinary amount of animated T&A on display here, and the violence – the writers worked on many a Conan comic for Marvel, so they know what their audience want from a sword and sorcery fantasy. It stays pretty faithful to those kind of texts, pandering to the baser instincts of their audience. And my instincts are pretty base, let me tell you. Plus, with Frank Frazetta as one of the producers…well, if you're familiar with his artwork, you know what to expect – top-heavy chicks and guys with biceps the size of Brisbane.

Teegra is unwittingly helped in keeping her liberty by a giant amphibian dinosaur, who turns up to ruin the Sub-humans' day, and their leader is killed by Juliana, who doesn't take failure on the part of her subordinates very well at all. Larn on the other hand is menaced by some kind of primordial wolves, but is aided (at a distance) by the mysterious wandering warrior Darkwolf, who's been following him since the attack on Larn's village, but he doesn't make his presence known just yet. Larn and Teegra meet at some kind of abandoned temple and decide to travel south together, back to Teegra's people, but due to some tom-foolery on Larn's part, manage to get themselves attacked by some aquatic octopus-like creature which has a mouth like an anus with teeth. Urgh. This leads directly to Teegra being recaptured by the Sub-humans. It also leads to Larn teaming up with Darkwolf against Nekron; ther's some history hinted at between Darkwolf and Juliana – in the original script there was a relationship explicitly detailed, with Nekron as the end product of that said relationship – that's not explicitly stated here.

Teegra tries to escape, but seeing as she's now been chained to the body of one of the Sub-humans, that won't be so easy, despite the fact she knifes him – she doesn't seem to realise that knives don't cut chains, and so tries hauling the body away with her, a rather futile task, one might think. Darkwolf and Larn storm the Sub-human's camp, and some pleasing carnage ensues. Darkwolf's quite the dab hand with a battle axe, as it turns out. Movie violence, real life or animated, is cool.

So Darkwolf, our Dark Ages Bat-Man (when you see the costume, you'll understand what I mean) goes into Sub-Human-slaying mode, and Teegra has been captured AGAIN and drugged by a witch who wants to give her to Nekron for a price. She gets fucked up, reinforcing Nekron's role as uber-bastard, and his Sub-humans as evil twats with less sense of honour than an Einsatzkommando, and again, her bodacious booty's in Nekron's potential clutches. Larn gets directions to save Teegra from a corpse, and off he goes.

Nekron, it seems, is none too keen on Teegra (which means he must be blind or stupid) and figures he doesn't need an heir, Juliana having brought her here as a potential bride, preferring wholesale destruction. Teegra is accordingly flung into a pit. What a waste of booty…

Jarol's son has turned up to Nekron's Ice Peak to negotiate – hopefully more successfully than before – to save Teegra and the kingdom, with Larn as unknown support, which means Darkwolf must be waiting in the wings – we just know violence will occur. And occur it does – Jarol's son fucks up big time and Larn enters into single combat with Nekron, not an occupation suited to longevity, and then, well, time to watch the film and see the goodness that occurs. There's quite a bit more to go, and a few surprises to boot. The post-Conan the Barbarian boom was a hoot.

The animation is good for the 80s, the gore and the action is top notch – this is a great film all-round, and definitely one with re-watch value. Criminally under-rated, and most likely to be snubbed by film snobs due to the fact it's a cartoon. I'm not saying it's the greatest movie I've ever seen, but you have to watch these kind of films for what they are – sword and sorcery fantasy with fast-paced chases, violent set pieces, busty wenches, monsters, witches, hair's breadth escapes – I'm going to watch it again.
Not so hot – it looks like the print itself was dirty; there's various levels of clarity – I thought that maybe it was my TV screen, but I cleaned it during a recent watching of Black Emaunelle, thinking that was the problem with the viewing experience. Nope, just a bad image at times. Also, the back of the case says the film is anamorphically enhanced – it's not.
William Kraft's score is suitably epic, very similar to Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings. The dialogue and sound effects are all fine, the 2.0 track doing what it needs to. Probably needed to be upgraded to 5.1 or DTS to make the most of the fighting scenes, but there you go… The two-disc Blue Underground, which has 6.1 sound would be the way to go, although I think it's out of print.
Extra Features
It's a Force Entertainment release, so naturally, you get nothing.
The Verdict
What a blast of animated action fun! While I was never a fan of Wizards, was hit and miss on Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings, Fire and Ice delivers in spades. A great piece of sword and sorcery fun, hampered only by a print that wasn't as good as it deserved. I dare you to watch it and not be entertained.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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