Antonio Banderas’ Underrated Historical Epic From the 90s Deserves a Rewatch

Antonio Banderas’ Underrated Historical Epic From the 90s Deserves a Rewatch
Image credit: Legion-Media

Zorro is now heading north!

Being recognized as an action star, Antonio Banderas made his name known all around the world with his brutal and memorable roles in Desperado (1995), The Mask of Zorro (1998), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) and, of course, the Spy Kids franchise.

However, few cinema lovers know that our favorite Spanish actor also starred in a movie that has its origins back in Germanic legends and historical accounts. It was a critically panned box office bomb at the time, but now it certainly deserves to be revised.

The film’s plot focuses on Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a Muslim ambassador, who is forced to leave his homeland and embark on a journey northwards. There he finds himself in the company of Vikings, people of a completely different culture, unfamiliar to ibn Fadlan.

However, the more he learns about the Norsemen’s nature, the more respect he starts paying to them. During their travels together, the Vikings and their Southern friend should confront the evil force that was thought to exist only in dark folk tales.

This synopsis already seems to be of much interest to history lovers and those who enjoy titles about the Norsemen, like Valhalla Rising (2009) and the Vikings series (2013 - 2020). Besides, the movie’s plot is reminiscent of Beowulf. 2007’s animated hit.

It turns out that Banderas’ movie is in fact loosely based on the tale of Beowulf combined with the real-life account of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who was a 10th-century traveler and an ambassador to the Volga Vikings.

Despite the fact that it has a solid historical base and depicts the past events with all grandeur and respect, it fell victim to severe criticism back in 1999. It was claimed to lumber from one expensive set to another one without managing to tell its full story.

That’s why the movie grossed $61.7 million against a budget estimated between $85M and $160M, becoming the biggest box office failure of the year. However, this historical fiction fantasy, titled The 13th Warrior, is indeed rewatchable now, 25 years later.

This flick can offer not only Banderas’ impeccable performance, epic sets and visual effects, but the nostalgic vibe of fantasies of the 1990s.

“It’s an amazing low fantasy creature feature. Quotable and memorable,” concludes Redditor @Exxppo about it.

Don’t miss this worth-watching movie of Banderas, as The 13th Warrior is now available for streaming on Prime and Apple TV+ .