by Jef Burnham
Available on DVD April 8 from MTI Home Video.
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Writer/director John Lechago’s (Mimic 2, Blood Gnome) Magus is sort of like Warlock 2 if they had added a lot more kung fu and cast the lead singer of Live (with his weird entirely shaved head save for a ponytail hairdo) instead of Julian Sands. Also, The Magus, unlike Warlock who I believe had to collect stones to summon the devil or something, aims merely to kill. And his targets are all those sorcerers and magicians who abide by the Wizard’s Code, which has prevented him from attaining Godhood for so long.
The Magus is, or is inhabited by, a demon straight off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (that’s a good thing) and he uses some very cool magic, like magic wind power that slices a guy’s throat and magic fire balls that fill a person’s chest until their rib cage blows out. He is accompanied on his mission of murder by the skimpy, tight leather clad Sen, who has no powers to speak of, unless you consider being hot and general kicking ass with kung fu to be powers. Having just escaped(?) from prison, Sen is eager to jump back into bed with the all-powerful Magus, but he shows restraint. Like DeNiro in Raging Bull, he must save his fluids for the fight ahead of him, but unlike Jake La Motta, the Magus has other means by which to satisfy his lady’s urges. That’s right, he lights her up with magic love power.
Even though Lechago could have followed the Magus around for an hour and a half as he boiled other sorcerers’ blood, he realized that with the Magus often waking up crying like a sissy, there needed to be other characters on which to focus our attention. Felix is an aging wizard healer, who is having a nightmare about the Magus getting a haircut when first we meet him. Felix has been in a bad state since the death of his wife eight years ago. His niece, Claudia, sees this as her chance to do her good deed for her jujitsu black belt exam, so she helps her uncle get back in touch with the world and his magical too, and none too soon as the Magus approaches for the final battle. The foreshadowing of the matching of Sen’s kung fu against Claudia’s jujitsu is laid on so thick, it’s pretty hard to miss, but the fight is still cool.
The movie is assuredly low-budget and the acting is on par with that of any other Julie Strain movie (yes, she’s in this, too, and of course you see her breasts), but it just adds to the fun. Really the only major problem I had with the movie is that the wizard battles are pretty stagnant. I’m sure this was to make creating the special effects easier in post-production, but really, the anime fan in me was hoping for something with a little more flipping, flying and screaming as they blasted each other with energy bolts.
Jef Burnham is a writer and film critic living in Chicago.
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