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You've got to fight for what you want...
on 25 April 2012
Nowadays, if the BBC were to buy a twelve part serial from another european country, it would be shown late at night on BBC2 and attract a small but very loyal cult audience.
Back around forty years ago they would buy children's drama series from europe. Dub them into English. And show them again and again during school holiday times as schedule fillers.
And like all the modern imports, shows that were broadcast in that way back then have also got small but very loyal cult followings.
DVD allows you to relive memories of these programmes all over again.
One such mainstay of school holiday tv was a french serial called the Flashing Blade. Set in the seventeenth century, at a time of war between France and Spain. A french castle on the border is under heavy siege. But a truce in the fighting is imminent. Only the Spanish commander would rather that his troops take the fort before fighting ceases.
The only hope for the defenders may lie in the Chevalier De Recci, a daring swordsman, and his trusty servant Guillot. They undertake a dangerous mission to bring aid to the fort. And find themselves caught up in conflict. On the battlefield and in the arena of church and politics.
Meanwhile, as the Spanish prepare for one last mass assault on the fort, time is running out for the defenders. Can the Chevalier save the day?
Swashbuckling action in here is sporadic, but very good when it comes. It does manage a pretty decent portrayal of military combat of the time. And of the political scheming as well. Although this version is dubbed into English it succeeds because it's a very good dub, with all the voices fitting the characters well. Especially in the case of the scheming papal envoy.
With betrayals and scheming and daring escapes and time running out, it becomes more exciting the more you get into it. And it's worth watching one episode every so often rather than in a row, as that will only heighten the anticipation.
This does actually stand up well for adults - all those who saw this back in the day now being of that age - because the story is strong enough and grown up enough for them as well. All in all, it's a cracking good yarn and it should bring back great memories. And start some fantastic new ones.
And it does have one of the best theme tunes ever, which you won't be able to get out of your head for a while.
Although this runs for twelve episodes, the final part - which acts as an epilogue to the whole thing, although the end of part eleven is pretty much self contained - never got repeated very often. As a result the version of it you see here is the original French one. And it's in French with English subtitles. The picture quality is also a bit weak compared to the other episodes, but it's perfectly watchable. And it has the original theme tune from the French version, which is interestingly different.
There are no subtitles at all available on any of the other episodes. And the only language option on those is English.
There are two discs in the box. Each has six parts on them. All parts run for twenty three minutes. You can choose to watch all parts in a row, or one at a time. And if you do the latter then it allows direct scene access to selected points in the episode.