Rewatching the 1988 movie Willow scene-by-scene. Why? Because it’s freakin’ Willow! This whimsical family film gets real bloody all of a sudden, 1:49:58 to 1:52:34 on the Blu-ray.
We jump from the previous scene to back outside, where the NockMaar and Galladoorn armies fight in the rain. General Kael and Airk are in mid-fight, with Kael lifting up Airk and shoving him against a wall. This seems to knock the wind out of both of them. Kael recovers first, and punches Airk, knocking him to the ground. Airk reaches for a knife in his boot, but Kael’s hand clamps down on Airk’s hand before Airk can use it. Airk then reacts with a howl of pain, a look of realization, and then he angrily spits in Kael’s face. Kael drives the knife in further. Airk screams and Kael kicks him down. Airk rolls down a small hill, as Madmartigan runs up and sees this.
Madmartigan calls “Airk!” Kael sees Madmartigan, raises his sword, and lets out a battle cry. Instead of running at Madmartigan, Kael turns and just walks off. Madmartigan hurries over to Airk. In close-up, we see Airk’s forehead and lip are all bloody. “Win this war for me,” Airk says. He then tilts his head back and dies in quite an impressive death rattle. This of course a callback to Madmartigan’s line from the Daikini crossroads scene. What’s more, the Willow graphic novel has an alternate version of this dialogue. Airk says, “If you ever stand on my grave, Madmartigan, I’ll kill you.” Madmartigan answers, “Give me your sword, old friend, and I’ll win this war for you.” I like the movie’s version better.
There’s a very quick shot of Kael pulling his sword out of some guy. Unlike the other Galladoorn, this guy doesn’t have the bright gold helmet, but there is some gold trim on his belt. Madmartigan stands, and looks at Kael. He holds up his sword and seems to fidgets with it. Kael throws another guy to the ground and stabs him. Madmartigan chooses then to act, and he runs up to Kael. Two NockMaar run at him. He slashes one with his sword, but the second one he only elbows in the back. Kael takes notice of Madmartigan. A third NockMaar attacks, and Madmartigan knocks him back by sword-striking the guy’s shield.
Kael and Madmartigan meet in battle. Their swords clash once, and then it seems all over as Madmartigan’s sword gets caught in a piece of wood in the structure behind them. We see the sword get broken with two, followed by Madmartigan falling back, one side of his face covered with blood. Kael rushes at him, crying “Die!” Madmartigan dodges his attack, jumps through a small window inside an overhanging arch (what is this architecture?!?) and gets a new sword sticking out of a conveniently-placed corpse nearby. Note that he doesn’t drop the broken sword, but instead fights with the broken sword in one hand and the second sword in the other.
Kael looks very Darth Vader-ish as he approaches, holding his sword two-handed like Vader’s lightsaber (and like a Kurosawa Samurai before him). Madmartigan runs up with a battle cry. Their swords clash once, only for Madmartigan to jump and swing around in midair, slashing Kael in the face. Part of Kael’s mask breaks away. Kael stumbles back against a wall, and we see blood on his face.
Madmartigan hears a scream and looks up. We see the castle from his point of view, looking as tall as a skyscraper. Madmartigan runs up the nearest stairs, but the camera stays with Kael as his eyes open and he watches Madmartigan go. Madmartigan quickly fights another NockMaar on the steps, with a really cool shot of the guy falling over the stairs’ side as Madmartigan kills him. There’s not much suspense in wondering when Kael will come back, because he jumps up the steps at Madmartigan. Madmartigan stumbles, but rolls out of the way, avoiding Kael’s swor. Madmartigan climbs up higher on these stairs, reaching a ledge (still no railing).
We then briefly revisit Bavmorda’s ritual chamber, where Willow faces off with enchanted metal-container-filled-with-bones (I still don’t know what this thing is). Willow is holding a metal rod, and he’s taken to fighting the thing rather than let it chase him around. In the background, Bavmorda and Raziel continue to fight over the wand, and we can surmise that scream came from one of them as the wand’s magic cuts loose. Willow more or less sweeps the leg, knocking the thing onto its back. With a battle cry of his own, Willow stabs at the thing, pushing along the floor and out the window.
Then we’re back on the ledge. Kael has grabbed hold of the back of Madmartigan’s head and smacks him face-first into the wall. He throws Madmartigan onto a wood platform, which we’ll seen see is a bridge connecting two parts of the building. Kael laughs a villain laugh as Madmartigan gets back to his feet, looking really angry. He swings his sword at Kael, only for Kael to block it with his hand (!). Then Madmartigan spins and stabs Kael with a second sword.
Kael rears back, and we think the fight is over. But he’s not done. Instead, he swings and punches Madmartigan in the face. This gives Madmartigan a bloody nose, for even more gore. Madmartigan stabs Kael in the gut with his second sword. Kael punches Madmartigan so hard he withdraws the sword out of Kael and drops it, so that it goes flying behind him. Kael wraps both hands around Madmartigan’s neck, choking him. Madmartigan drives the first sword in deeper, which causes Kael to loosen his grip and fall back.
Next, Madmartigan steps on another sword’s hilt so that the blade sticks up at an angle. But wait, this sword has fancy rounded hilt, like a Princess Bride sword, but Madmartigan’s second sword has a basic T-shaped hilt, like a Lord of the Rings sword. Compare with earlier shots, and it’s easily confirmed that this is Kael’s sword, which he dropped when Madmartigan stabbed him the first time.
Madmartigan falls back, with Kael falling with him. This move impales Kael (heh) on Kael’s own sword. Both men stand, and we see Kael now has two swords sticking out of him. Madmartigan throws Kael over the bridge. Kael falls with a scream while lightning flashes in the background. In the reverse shot, we see his body, lying there in the mud. A bunch of Galladoorn soldiers run past Kael’s body as if it isn’t there. The important detail to remember during this Madmartigan/Kael fight is that, according to the tie-in fiction, Kael believes himself to be an unkillable god when wearing his mask, and a vulnerable human without the mask. Therefore, smashing the mask is what weakened Kael enough to be defeated — in Kael’s mind, at least.
Madmartigan looks down at Kael with disdain and throws something at him. I can’t tell what, though. Another broken sword-piece, perhaps?
Next: The swine-al battle.
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