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Film / Quest of the Delta Knights

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Quest of the Delta Knights is a 1993 Direct to Video fantasy/adventure sword and sorcery film wholly lacking in sorcery. It's another one of those movies that wouldn't have a page on this wiki were it not for Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The plot concerns a young boy named Travis (nicknamed "Tee"), who is sold into slavery after he is orphaned in an attack on a caravan. Tee is bought by Baydool (David Warner), a beggar who is secretly a spy for the Order of the Delta Knights. This underground society is dedicated to knowledge, justice, eradicating evil; the usual heroic stuff. Baydool makes Tee his apprentice as he covertly opposes the dastardly Lord Vultare (also Warner), who is looking for the fabled Lost Storehouse of Archimedes, rumored to contain all manner of Lost Technology that would allow their wielder to Take Over the World.

The duo infiltrate Vultare's castle to gain access to a map leading to the storehouse, but afterward Baydool is captured, and Tee's attempt to rescue his mentor ends badly. Tee sets off to find the Storehouse before Vultare can, joining forces with Leonardo da Vinci, who is also a member of the Order, and a serving wench named Thena. Along the way they have a few scrapes with Vultare's forces, Leo hits on and gets hit by the girl, the party gets captured by a disturbingly merry band of masked bandits, and it turns out Thena is a princess.

In the end, they find the Storehouse, but it turns out Vultare's been following them the whole time! Fortunately the villain gets Distracted by the Shiny artifacts and zaps himself to death, and Tee blows up the Storehouse, reasoning that mankind is not yet ready for its secrets. But Leonardo rips off most of the gadgets inside of it, so it isn't a total loss. The end.

As far as movies riffed on by Mystery Science Theater 3000 go, this isn't one of the worst but also not one of the best. It's at least watchable and usually fairly fun, but also notably confusing and nebulous, especially with regards to its temporal and physical setting. The structure for this particular MST3K experiment is iconic, and the recap can be found here.

Also, several viewers have noticed that the first act ("mute" orphan slave is bought for an insultingly low sum, freed, and adopted by a "crippled" beggar who is a spy for a secret organization) is essentially Robert A. Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy Recycled in Medieval Europe.

Quest of the Delta Knights contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Related: When Baydool is dying, he and Tee refer to each other as father and son. It seems to come out of nowhere and is usually interpreted as metaphorical. However, Baydool shows that he also has Tee's Danger Sense on two occasions. First, shortly after solving the riddle about how Tee's father felt and realizing his destiny, and then when he's about to die and the two exchange that dialogue. That power, and the scenes it comes up in, heavily imply that there is a connection after all.
  • Anachronism Stew: And how! The extras were workers and patrons of a local Renaissance Faire who provided their own costumes. So some Mooks wear horned Viking helmets, others wear armor, while still others dress like pirates and sultans. Archimedes' notebook, which becomes the foundation of the Order, is bound with ancient staples. And as mentioned earlier, Tee uses bombs to bring down the Storehouse, and also has a crude pistol (though to be fair, gunpowder weapons had been present in Europe since the 14th century). Tee's gender neutral parent thing tries to assault Vultare with a sai.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Everyone's speaking English, but "Vultare" sounds vaguely French, Leonardo da Vinci is hanging around, and supposedly Archimedes of Syracuse has a storehouse nearby. England is apparently due north.
  • Artistic License – History: When Archimedes was carelessly killed by a Roman soldier, it was never "I'm not finished yet!" It was more along the lines of "please do not disturb my circles."
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Attempted with Leonardo and Thena. Failed mostly because Leonardo turns into an unlikable jackass from the moment they rescue Thena from slavers.
  • Big "NO!": There's one from Travis at the beginning as his family is killed, but we only see him mouth the word as the sound is removed for drama.
  • Kid Hero: Tee, the Chosen One of the Order, who is destined to lead the way to the Lost Storehouse of Archimedes.
  • Lost Superweapon: It turns out one of Archimedes' great inventions was a crystal ball that focuses latent energy in the atmosphere to create a Death Ray. It turns out it wasn't quite Ragnarok Proofed well enough, though, and it overloads on Vultare, killing him.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Just before Baydool dies, Tee and he call each other "Father," and "My son," respectively. The plot remains vague on if it's a literal case or that Tee had accepted Baydool as a Parental Substitute after they'd lived together for years.
  • Made-for-TV Movie: Originally a Sci-Fi Channel made-for-cable movie.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Not surprisingly, Baydool is killed off partway through so that Tee can fulfill his destiny alone.
  • Mood Whiplash: In scenes shown from Vultare's perspective, he's a Butt-Monkey. In scenes featuring the heroes, he's murdering innocents or torturing people by dragging them behind his horse. Notably, MST3K removed most of the Vultare-specific scenes.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: By Thena's brother when Leo comments on how she went from serving wench to princess overnight.
    "Athena was always a princess! matter what things she had to do."
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Replace just one letter in the villain's name and you've got Lord Vulture.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Baydool, before being arrested, sends Tee away and later has someone contact him to tell him to leave him behind as the mission is more important. Tee decides to try and break him out of prison anyway... alerting every single guard in the prison along the way, getting Baydool shot in the leg, too injured to finish escaping, then eventually killed after being executed on the spot by Vultare who might not have actually been planning on killing him until the escape. Lampshaded in the MST3K edit:
    Tee: Father!
    Mike!Tee: (nervously) ...Aren't you glad I broke you out of prison?
    • Tee repeatedly fails to prevent Vultare from just following him to important locations, which ultimately leads to Vultare reaching the storehouse the entire Delta Knights order had been trying to find and claiming everything inside. This just leads to both Tee and Vultare blowing it to pieces and depriving the order of the one thing they'd been seeking for hundreds of years.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Leonardo doesn't even attempt an Italian accent.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Tee pretends to be a mute while a slave.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Baydool's disguise as a simple beggar allows him to move around freely.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Athena, and how. When she's revealed as a princess, her corset pushes her bosom to her shoulders.
  • Older Sidekick: Leonardo da Vinci, who seems to be around twenty here, is sidekick to little kid Tee.
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: "The arrow will show / Where the Father did glow / From the house of the One / Treasures are given... from Father to Son."
  • Punny Name: "Mannerjay" seems to be a title invented by the movie, likely as a pun off of "manager".
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Notable aversion. The Lost Superweapon hidden in Archimedes' lost storehouse overloads when Vultare tries to use it, apparently electrocuting him right before it explodes on him.
  • Rags to Royalty: Thena, who goes from serving wench to princess overnight after meeting a thief prince who happens to be her long lost brother.
  • Red Baron: By his own account, Vultare has many nicknames along these lines, such as the Scourge of Iberia and the Panther of the Pyrenees.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The entire point of Tee's quest was to find the Lost Storehouse and use its treasures of Lost Technology to lead mankind out of the dark ages. Instead, Tee destroys the Storehouse, saying The World Is Not Ready. Sure, they reunited Thena with her brother and killed Lord Vultare, but mankind is still in the dark ages, the Mannerjay still retains power in their homeland, and countless treasures of antiquity are lost forever.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "This is an atlas; There are maps in it."
  • Shown Their Work:
    • No matter how inaccurate the rest of the movie is, the writers did get some facts on Archimedes right, notably how he reflected the sun's light as a weapon and the basic circumstances of his death. They also knew that Leonardo da Vinci was called that because he really was from Vinci, rather than treating it as his surname (he didn't have onenote ).
    • The Mannerjay also refers to the ruler of "Cathay", an antiquated, Anglicized name for what is today called China.
  • Spider-Sense: Tee, though it rarely does him much good given how many times it gets him captured or his friends killed.
  • Spy Speak: The shibboleth of the Delta Knights.
    It's a nice day if it doesn't rain.
    It's always a nice day if it doesn't rain.
    If the sun isn't too warm.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Vultare is constantly rolling his eyes at his goofy subordinates like Wamthool.
  • Training Montage: Guaranteed to be the goofiest and least believable one you will ever see in your entire life. Or at least the second.
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy: It's mostly cut in the MST3K version, but this is Vultare's ultimate plan with the storehouse. He lets Tee get away so he will lead him to it. It works somehow, even though Vultare completely loses his trail near the end.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Wamthool is described as the Mannerjay's "merlin", with King Arthur's own Merlin having apparently become the standardized word for a court wizard in this setting.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The plot temporarily redirects when the heroes run into the forest people, but otherwise has little bearing on the plot. Even when Thena returns, she doesn't have anyone with her and she's not dressed as a princess anymore. Also, Vultare does not run into the forest people at all while following the trail of the heroes.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Leonardo and Thena.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: So, what became of the Mannerjay, anyway? Or the wizard who was working for her?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Leonardo openly calls out Tee's decision to destroy the lost storehouse of Archimedes, and especially pointing out that he had no right to do so. Tee simply claims The World Is Not Ready and Archimedes gave him the right. Amusingly, unknown to both his actions were irrelevant since Vultare managed to blow it up independently.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Here's everything the audience knows about where the story is set: Tee is from England, but it's not the setting. Leonardo da Vinci is there, but it's not Italy. Archimedes kept a storehouse full of his work there, but it's not Sicily. It's ruled by a Mannerjay (not a real world title). It's the dark ages. That's basically it.
  • Wizard Beard: Baydool wears a phony one as part of his beggar-man disguise.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Tee's reasoning for destroying the Lost Storehouse at the end of the film.
  • Ye Goode Olde Days: Much of the movie was shot at a Renaissance faire in California, using staff and patrons as extras, which may explain some of the anachronisms.