Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - March, 2011


"Sword of War" (DVD) - Reviewed by Jim Clements



This is the story of the German Emperor Barbarossa (Rutger Hauer) who will stop at nothing to conquer and build his empire. He is dead set on being named the Holy Roman Emperor so he can sit at the same throne as Charlemagne.  But a young man from Milan, Alberto da Giussano (Raz Degan) builds a modest army of 900.  They call themselves the Company of Death.  The Company of Death will battle Barbarossa's army at the Battle of Legnano in 1176.  This battle was a major turning point in Barbarossa's reign.


  • Lionsgate
  • 2011, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 3 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec: MPEG-2
  • NTSC
  • English 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Starring: Rutger Hauer, Raz Degan and F. Murray Abraham
  • Directed by Renzo Martinelli
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Suggestive
  • Language: No


This movie is an Italian production that was done in English with Italian subtitles.  That is how it is presented on the DVD release.  The overdubbing was poorly done in many spots, lending a cheesy feel to the proceedings.  The picture and sound quality are quite good for DVD.  Consequently, many of scenes are actually riveting.  Take the siege of Milan, the catapults fired by Barbarosa were very cool.   But then the Italians returned fire with a catapult of their own, which was so totally fake it mostly destroyed the whole mood.  I was also a little confused about the circumstances that ended this battle. The acting in the movie is highly variable.  I didn't feel that Rutger Hauer provided a very dynamic performance.  But Raz Degan as Giussano was good as was F. Murray Abraham in the role of Barozzi.  It appears that the main antagonist, Giussano, was a mythological legend. There was, however, an actual Battle of Legnano in which Barbarossa was injured and thought to have died until he later emerged.  The outcome of this battle did leave Barbarossa weakened and started his decline as a ruler.  When the final battle gets under way, I would hope that you are in the mood for "a little bit of the old ultra violence" as the closing battle has bunches and bunches of bloody special effects to satiate your appetite.  It got a little too crazy for my tastes, but there are a lot of peole who will enjoy it.  Lastly, the music set the mood nicely and was very appropriate to the film.


The picture quality was very good for DVD.   There were solid blacks, good shadow detail, appropriate contrast and fine color fidelity.  There were very few obvious compression artfiacts and as a result the picture retained an significant amount of detail that showed up in everything from the trees to the costumes.  The audio also outshone the format.  The Dolby Digital track had decent bass response.  The sound was enveloping throughout, but especially so in the battle scenes.  The music is well recorded and presented with good clarity.


There are two extras on this disc: A Behind-the-Scenes Featurette and Trailers.