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Film / The Blade Master

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Ator l'invincibile 2 (released in English-speaking countries as The Blade Master, Ator, the Blade Master, Cave Dwellers, and The Return) is an Italian film that was made in 1984.

The movie was written and directed by Joe D'Amato. It stars Miles O'Keeffe as Ator, a man skilled in not only fighting, but in many other arts as well. It also stars Charles Borromel as Akronas, a wise ruler and teacher who is also called the Great One. Lisa Foster stars as Mila, the daughter of Akronas, and David Brandon as Zor — the principal villain of the film. The film was released in theaters as Ator the Invincible and later as Ator, the Blade Master. It received the name Cave Dwellers after it was re-edited by distributor Film Ventures International. It is the sequel to 1982's Ator l'invincible (with the English title Ator, the Fighting Eagle), which received the RiffTrax treatment in 2017 and appeared on MST3k itself in 2018.note  The third film was 1986's Iron Warrior, followed by Quest for the Mighty Sword (which was also released as Troll 3, one of three In Name Only sequels to Troll.) The movies were made to capitalize on the popularity of the Conan movies which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.


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

The Blade Master has these examples:

  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Neanderthals, barbarians, a 17th century castle and an atom bomb going off?
      Tom Servo: Well, looks like he flew into 17th century Bulgaria and that's Mad Ludwig's castle right there.
    • Also pointed out in the ending:
      Crow: Hey look, tire tracks!
  • Annoying Arrows: Mila gets shot in the heart by an arrow and keeps limping on! The heart!
  • Backstab Backfire: Saved by Thong, though!
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: In the Film Ventures International release, the film's opening and closing credits are clearly from another film.note 
    Tom Servo: You know, they couldn't even find an exciting enough scene from their own movie to show with the credits.
  • Bamboo Technology: Pushed to the breaking point of historic credibility when Ator even makes a hang glider.
    Joel: Oh, I suppose he's got a tank in the courtyard now.
    Crow: Yeah, and it's made outta coconuts.
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  • Barbarian Hero: Subverted. Ator looks like a classic barbarian hero, but is much too civilized to actually count as one, and Akronas stops him from killing the defeated Zor by reminding him that he's not a barbarian.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Ator and Thong beat invisible assailants by turning them into these with their cloaks.
  • Big Bad: Zor is the major antagonist of the film, though he isn't actually in charge of all the baddies that Ator fights through.
  • Big "NO!": Several, actually. Said in a fairly goofy, almost petulant manner, however.
  • The Blacksmith: Ator apparently learned blacksmithing between the first and second film.
  • Breast Plate: Averted; Mila appears to be wearing a hub cap on her chest.
  • Chainmail Bikini: Mila wears one in the promotional poster... though not in the film itself.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Implied in the beginning with Mila and her way with gunpowder. Needlessly subverted with a vengeance when NONE of those skills come to play later on, and Mila just cowers in the corner of the snake-pit when she could've helped out with a gunpowder skull-bomb or grenade! Twisted in that it's Ator who seizes the Gun later on by using gunpowder bombs to distract the cannibals.
  • Cultured Warrior: Ator, in the second movie anyway, is so cultured he can create hang gliders, perform surgery, and make gunpowder grenades.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The "geometric nucleus" seems to be a magic-based nuclear weapon, depending on how you interpret the anvilicious closing monologue and stock footage of a mushroom cloud.
  • Faux Action Girl: Mila. Sure, she's a strong-willed young lady with lots of rebellious spunk. Sure, she has some nominal experience fighting bad guys with swords. Sure, she knows everything her Dad taught her, even did a neat MacGyver job with gunpower made from cave wall minerals in a test Ator set for her. However, she gets shot with an arrow, becomes a Damsel in Distress with both the cannibal cavepeople AND the snake cult and cowers in the corner like a helpless blob of jello when in the snake pit with Ator.
  • Genius Bruiser: How many other Conan knockoffs can build a goddamned hang glider?
  • Happy Ending Override: The entirety of the previous film was Ator's quest to rescue Sunya, his stepsister/wife, and the film ended with them running happily into the distance to start their lives together free of danger. Cue the second movie where a cheap montage says Sunya died (it's not specified when or how) and now Ator is living in a cave away from society.
  • The Hero: Ator by default, though he doesn't do very much.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Thong, who finds the way out of the cave, sniffs out the villagers' trap, and ultimately offs the villain with a throwing knife.
  • Idiot Ball: The chief of the village spends considerable effort trying to convince his villagers that Ator is wrong. Then when he fails, he suddenly becomes totally supportive of Ator and offers him a drink. Somehow it doesn't occur to Ator that anything might be amiss. (This looks extra stupid if you know that he also accepted a drugged drink from a shady character in the previous movie.)
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Invoked but turned humorous.
    Akronas: No, Ator! You can't! Zor is disarmed. If you kill him now, you'll be guilty of murder!
    Crow: What?
    Arkonas: Wait until he is tried by the court of the League of Peaceful Lands!
    Joel: Oh, he's making that up!
    Tom Servo: What is this, BC Law?
    Akronas: They will make him pay for his crimes, but for us to take the law on our hands puts us on the level of the barbarian!
    Crow: We are barbarians!
  • I Lied: Punctuated with an axe to the face. Ouch.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The cave dwellers are of the And Show It to You variety.
  • Invisible Monsters:
    Joel: I don't believe it — they were too cheap to hire villains in this movie.
  • Loincloth: There's a lot of these in this film, not the least of which is worn by our hero.
  • MacGuffin: The "Geometric Nucleus".
    Akronas: It is everything... and nothing...
    Crow: Uh, could you be a little more vague, please?
  • Mr. Fanservice: Miles O'Keeffe. For a flagrant Conan bootleg, he at least has an impressive body build to match Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Say what you will about her uselessness, Mila certainly is easy on the eyes, and the camera certainly enjoys taking shots up her bearskin Minidress of Power.
  • Neutral Female: You were a big help with the snake, lady.
    Crow: "Is Charles in Charge over? Thanks for showing up!"
  • Never My Fault: The aversion of this is discussed. When Sandor's magic fails to stop Ator, Zor gives him a right nasty tongue-lashing for it (and is preparing to give him worse); Akronas points out that Zor, having placed all his reliance upon Sandor's abilities, is as guilty of failure as the wizard.
  • Noisy Nature: Growling snakes. Helps that one of them is humongous, though.
  • Plot Hole: So how did Ator manage to survive destroying the Geometric Nucleus if it caused such a huge nuclear explosion? Was he able to rig it up like a pre-historic time bomb so he had enough time to get to a safe distance before it exploded?
    Crow: Well, this is neat, but what the heck does it have to do with the movie?
    Tom Servo: Uh.... Your guess is as good as mine. Think they ran out of things to do.
    Joel: Yeah.
    Tom Servo: Throw a little Oppenheimer in here right now. Hey, I see a president's face up there!
    Crow: I see a bunny.
  • Porn Stache: Zor has an insanely huge mustache of evil.
  • Previously on…: The movie shows a recap of the first. As low budget as it was, it also painfully points out how the first movie had a better budget than this one. Worse, nothing in the first film has a bearing on the second film, so the recap is essentially useless padding.
    Crow: Jeez, Tolkien couldn't follow this plot.note 
  • Retcon: Arkonas' long-winded recap of the first movie makes Ator out to be considerably more competent than actually depicted in that film, neglecting to mention that the majority of his exploits were only made possible by the help he received from his mentor Griba, "side piece" Roon, and pet bear cub Kiog. If Roon in particular hadn't kept bailing him out, he wouldn't have gotten close to defeating the spider god.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The town's leader has his people drug Ator and friends, in exchange for not having to give the Snake God female sacrifices. He's rewarded with a sword to the face and the town getting pillaged and females getting taken anyway.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Invoked in the film's conclusion.
    Tom Servo: Oh, but enough of this, let's escape to Wisconsin!
    Joel: Yeah. Looks like he traded in his hang glider for a horse. He probably built that horse too if you think about it.
    Tom Servo: Out of mud and sticks...
    Crow: Raised it from a pup.
  • Same Language Dub: Miles O'Keefe's voice was dubbed over to sound more mature and heroic. The voice actor was Greg Snegoff who uses a voice very much like the one he used for Scott Bernard in Robotech.
  • Schizo Tech: A Conan The Barbarian ripoff with gliders and atomic bombs. While building a glider is not too out of place, the fact it uses what looks like tanned leather and parachute silk, and possibly forged metal components on a pretty sophisticated wood frame, makes it a little hard to believe Ator could have whipped it up in 5 minutes. He could have built it sometime before and hidden it, but if so that should have been made clear. Nukes, on the other hand...
  • Shout-Out:
  • Snakes Are Evil: So evil that they... er, growl.
  • The Speechless: Thong never speaks for the entire film, just doing all the real work without a word. This is never explained.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Sunya, Ator's bride that he spends the entire first movie rescuing, is simply stated to have died during Akronas' exposition dump. She is never mentioned in the rest of the film.
  • Token Minority: Also Thong, whose sudden association with Ator is never explained. He's missing in the next film, also without explanation.
  • Trivial Title: For Cave Dwellers. The actual cave dwellers are shown very briefly in the movie. The rest of the plot revolves around a journey made by a character named Ator to save his former mentor from the bad guy. The scene with the cave people is just a brief detour. It's worth mentioning that it was originally Ator l'invincible 2 (Ator the Invincible 2, also released in the US as Ator, the Blade Master or The Return). Cave Dwellers is just the title that Venture Films International slapped on it when they got the distribution rights. Of course, since the VFI version was the one featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it's the most famous one.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The cave dwellers themselves are just an obstacle the heroes stumble into, with no connection to anyone or anything else in the story. Of course, replace "wacky" with "primitive and bloodthirsty."
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ator. Delicious barbarian Ator...
    Joel: Who is this gentle stranger with pecs like melons and knees of fringe?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Thong waits around for no apparent reason long enough while rescuing Ator from the snake dude's temple that all of the other prisoners are sacrificed to the giant snake.
  • Wicked Cultured: What Zor aspires to. He's not very good at it. Arkonas uses this and Zor's (limited) respect for him to manipulate him a few times, particularly when he gets Zor to show Sandor mercy by suggesting that weak men are incapable of showing mercy.
    Zor: (dueling Ator near the end of the movie) Have you lost your nerve?!
    Joel: Oh, come on, yeah! He ran to The Ends of The Earth, he invented the wheel, he's had a long day!
  • The World Is Not Ready: Then again, what can an iron age tyrant can do with a nuke?
    Joel: Actually, Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked it over. So uh... Yeah.
    Tom Servo: Mankind, you make me want to vomit. Go away, just go away. I'm so sick of you, get out of here. Come on!
  • Worthy Opponent: What Zor thinks of Akronas. He punishes his soldiers for hurting Akronas in the process of capturing him on the grounds that mere Mooks aren't worthy to touch such a man, and he later refuses to use torture to get information from Akronas on the grounds that that would ruin their battle of wits. He does eventually lose his patience, though.
  • Yellow Face: Zor is some sort of weird Samurai/Mongol/Hun guy with a cheesy Fu Manchu moustache, played by a white guy.

Alternative Title(s): Cave Dwellers