Absolutely no snark intended, but in the wake of the sad news of Carradine's passing, it occurred to me that my favorite of his many big screen appearances wasn't his brilliant performance as Woody Guthrie in Bound For Glory, not his comeback role in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, or even his hilarious turn as the masked anti-hero in the original Death Race 2000.
No, for my money Carradine will always be the mysterious alien swordsman in the unjustly obscure sci-fi adventure The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984).
Itinerant intergalactic warrior Kain (Carradine) crosses the barren wastelands of the planet Ura in search of gainful employment. He arrives at a remote village where two arch enemies, Zeg and the evil degenerate Balcaz, fight incessantly for control of the town's only well, just about the only thing of real value for thousands of miles. Kain, having nothing better to do, decides to bring down both tyrants, and alternates selling his services to whichever one amuses him at the time. The resultant internecine warfare results in mucho severed limbs; eventually Kain gets the mercenaries on both sides of the conflict to off each other and peace is restored to the now considerably less population dense village.
Sound familiar? Yup, it's a space opera rewrite of Clint Eastwood's A Fistful of Dollars, the spaghetti western classic that was itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa's samurai masterpiece Yojimbo.
Here's the opening sequence for a little taste.
In any case, the bottom line is that Carradine...
...was playing this guy...
...who was playing THIS guy...
...and doing it quite brilliantly, actually; even in a piece of low budget mishegass like this, you can't take your eyes off him.
WATS is currently currently out of print, alas, but you can -- and definitely should -- get a used copy here.
Incidentally, WATS director John Broderick (who died in 2001) was the shadowy figure behind one of the strangest items in Robert DeNiro's filmography -- the 1979 Cannon release The Swap (aka Line of Fire), which folds in footage from an artsy 1969 indie flick called Sam's Song (starring the pre-stardom DeNiro) with an entirely new, and cheesy, crime story in which another actor, shot from behind in shadows, stands in for Bob a la Ed Wood's dentist doing Bela Lugosi in Plan 9 From Outer Space.
WATS co-scripter (and legendary artist) William Stout has some interesting things to say about Carradine, director Broderick, and the entire business of low budget Hollywood filmmaking over here in an essay that behooves beholding.