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Ilya Muromets is a fantasy movie based upon the epic poems about a Russian epic hero. Released in 1959, the movie was a literal epic for the Russian film industry. Then Roger Corman got his hands on the movie for a release in the early 1960s. While little was generally changed, the "epic" feel of the original is felt to have been lost rather tragically in the conversion. The movie is also known as "The Sword and the Dragon" in America, while "The Epic Hero and the Beast" is the UK name. Both are drastically changed versions when compared to the original, of course. A copy of the full version with English subtitles can be seen here

Plot

In medieval Russia(or "Finlandia"), the Asiatic barbarians known as the Tugars (and their leader, Khan -- no, Colin, no, Kalin) are ravaging and pillaging the land along with their fire-breathing three-headed flying dragon[1]. One man pleads to serve the barbarians if they spare him, and promises to be a double agent for them. During all of this, the strong but lame Ilya Muromets sits helpless at his window as his townsfolk are attacked by the cruel invaders. The Tugars also abduct Ilya's beloved, Vasilisa. This important plot point is, of course, completely cut from several localizations of the movie.[2]

Meanwhile, the aging giant knight Svyatogor (or "Invincor" to dub watchers) gives his sword to some travelers to be passed on to a new bogatyr. Invincor and his horse turn to stone soon after... for reasons that the localization brushes over. The travelers soon come upon a lone house in the country where the previously seen (if you're watching the original) cripple Ilya Muromets resides. His legs haven't worked since childhood, but the travelers miraculously happen to have a magical potion which cures his ailment (in the original, there was also some patriotic singing involved). The travelers give the restored Ilya Invincor's magic sword. Ilya's parents magically show up just in time to see Ilya tear up the lawn[3], though they're happy he can finally do work around the house.

However, Ilya is called off to go and fight the forces of the Tugars. The family wishes him well. Ilya's neighbor gives him a pony named Chestnut Gray. After coating the small horse in Mountain Dew[4] for three mornings, Chestnut Gray grows into a massive steed. Ilya passes by through woods and is eventually confronted by a forest-dwelling monster known as Nightingale the Robber, or just "Wind Demon", who blows wind so hard it parts the forest backward. Of course, Ilya defeats him by throwing a cudgel at the branch the Wind Demon is sitting on, knocking the demon senseless. Ilya travels to the capital of Kiev and presents the forest monster to the king, who is impressed with his deeds. Ilya becomes part of a bogatyr brotherhood with two other knights, one of whom happens to be known for being Sinbad.[5]

The Tugars send an envoy to the city, a massive fat man on an impossibly larger moving platform, who warns the king to give them a tribute for 12 years in advance and they will be spared from Kalin's wrath. Ilya replies by throwing insults at the human blimp. The blimp throws a sword back, which is, naturally, delivered back by Ilya in a rather lethal manner. Much of the envoy is smashed by Ilya using the corpse as a club, the rest run off. While people completely forget about the implied threat that Kalin's men will one day return, Ilya rediscovers his wife Velia, who had been kidnapped by the Tugars in one of the many scenes removed from the American version. In fact, the dub makes Ilya look disturbingly creepy toward this woman he's apparently never met, despite nearly making out with her the whole time and swearing he'll never leave her alone again.

Unfortunately the wife is quickly abducted by the Tugars. Again. Hands up, those of you who didn't see this coming? This time, though, Velia bears Ilya a young son, who is taken to be trained as a Tugar warrior. His name is Little Falcon, as that is what saw them conceive the child.

The double-agent from long, long ago tricks the king and Ilya is imprisoned for many years in the castle's dungeons while the Tugars continue to destroy the countryside. They set up camp outside the city of Kiev, ordering seven hundred carts of gold to be given to the Tugar leader Kalin in order for the city to be spared. Eventually the double-agent is rooted out and thrown into boiling pitch, while Ilya is finally released and allowed to lead the amassed armies of the land against the Tugar hordes.Kalin starts to move more of his Tugar hordes toward the city of Kiev. Ilya hatches a plan to trick the Kalin by using torn sacks and broken carts to create the impression that all of the gold being paid as tribute fell out during transport. The supposed search for the gold, which ends with Tugars giving Kalin a mountain of the gold they, apparently, wanted to keep for themselves (in reality, it was their own jewelry -- Ilya's plan at work). This takes a day. Then, Kalin demands Ilya Muromets, and the supposed search for him takes two more days. Ilya gets Kalin frustrated enough to claim that he'd cancel the invasion if the hero would stand before him; Ilya promptly reveals himself to the Kalin -- who feels insulted by this deception and decides to attack anyway; Ilya escapes and goes to prepare his army.

What this quite has to do with getting Kalin to not attack and leave, however, is anyone's guess (except for the fact that he tricked Kalin into promising to leave, but since when do villains care). He did, however, get three days for the reserves to arrive.

Ilya's son Little Falcon is now grown up and a strong Tugar warrior and is sent to fight Ilya. While they duel, Ilya sees the ring he once gave to his wife on Little Falcon's finger. Quickly, Ilya reveals the boy's true heritage to him. Amazingly, Little Falcon quickly defects from all he knew and joins the side of a guy who randomly claimed to be his fa... wait, mythology and family values, let's rephrase that: Naturally, he joins his father's side, goes to rescue his mom, and still makes it back in time to join the dragonslaying..

The two other knights in Ilya's brotherhood each lead one army with Ilya leading a center army toward the Tugar hordes. Kalin orders a massive pyramid to be made out of human bodies so... um... so he can be atop it (well, view the battlefield, actually, though it is unclear whether the number of his warriors who suffocated inside was worth the tactical advantage). That's about it. Finally, the three-headed dragon named Zuma the Dragon,[6] is summoned by Kalin to help in the fight. More of the Russian (or not) soldiers land from ships from a nearby river and fight the fire-breathing dragon, eventually slaying it. The Tugar hordes are routed and Kalin is captured. The victorious Ilya is offered to become a noble by the current king but declines in order to be with his wife and go on other journeys. Ilya instead gives his son the sword of "Invincor" and declares that Falcon will receive said rewards and continue the heroic lineage.

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.


Tropes used in "Ilya Muromets"

  • Anatomically-Impossible Sex: Possibly dub induced, but Ilya tells his wife to bear him a child while he's away on his long, long epic journey.
    • In the original, he specifically asks her to bear him a son.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Chekhov's Ballista, in this case. At the beginning, a man states that he intends to design one. It gets a few quite important shots (literally) at the final battle. Corman, for some reason, removed the first part completely.
  • Dub Induced Pervert: Without the first scene where Ilya's wife is taken, we get an extremely creepy Ilya forcing himself on a young woman.
  • Dub Name Change: From the original title to "The Sword and the Dragon" (or "The Epic Hero and the Beast" for those in the UK).
  • Friend to All Living Things: Ilya's wife.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The battle between Ilya and his son does seem to have a possible Foe Yay implication for a modern Russian.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: One of the two friends of Ilya previously played Sinbad in episode 505, The Magical Voyage of Sinbad.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Mike Wallace of Sixty Minutes did the narration, as strange as that sounds. And who can forget Paul Frees as Boris Badinov, a.k.a. Tugar emperor Kalin?
  • Million Mook March: World record for extras.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: Basically what happens to Svyatogor. The Earth can carry him no longer due to his strength.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Falcon grows to adulthood (mightiest among the Tugar warriors even) while his father is in prison.In the bylinas, he was imprisoned for three years, but the movie changed it to ten, with people remarking about the fast aging.
  • Prop Recycling: The ships that get put on wheels at the end of the film are from The Magic Voyage of Sinbad.
  • Raised by Orcs: Little Falcon, naturally.
  • Shout-Out: The scene where Ilya gives Durbar and Alexei their instructions for the climatic battle is posed like a famous painting of the same three characters by Victor Vasnetsov.

 "Every penny's worth!" during the fake fight between Ilya and his son.

  • Talking Is a Free Action. a bit of talking when fighting the dragon, though not that bad.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Ilya is really good at making stuff up on the fly...
  • Unfortunate Names: Invincor. In the original, his name was Svyatogor, which sounds pretty cool.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: It isn't really clear if this is subverted (since the Tugar attack anyways), or if the plan was just to waste the Tugar's time since we never find out what was in the plan and what wasn't.
  • Yellow Peril

Notes

  1. Of course, the Dragon doesn't actually show up until the grand finale
  2. It is uncertain if Corman cut it from his version of the movie, or if the Best Brains crew cut this scene for time instead. Knowing Corman, it's entirely probable he did this, though.
  3. Apparently, the original version has the travelers taking Ilya in as like a son - creating a kinda odd division between the two versions.
  4. (as in "dew found in the mountains", not "Xtreme carbonated beverage")
  5. Also, for being horrible at economics.
  6. But never named as such, of course.
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