Ashanti (1979 film)
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Ashanti theatrical 1979 movie poster
|Directed by||Richard Fleischer|
|Produced by||Georges-Alain Vuille
John C. Vuille
|Written by||Stephen Geller
George MacDonald Fraser (uncredited)
|Music by||Michael Melvoin|
|Edited by||Ernest Walter|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.
Ashanti (also called Ashanti, Land of No Mercy) is a 1979 action adventure film, produced by Georges-Alain Vuille, and directed by Richard Fleischer. Despite its impressive cast and setting (on location in the Sahara, and in Kenya, Israel, and Sicily), it was widely panned by critics upon release. Michael Caine was reportedly very disappointed with the project and claims it was the third worst film along with his previous films The Magus and The Swarm (despite appearing in other failures in the 1980s), after director Fleischer and co-star Beverly Johnson, were both removed from filming two-thirds of the way through the shoot. Fleischer departed after being hospitalised with sunstroke. However, an interview with Ms. Johnson included on the 2013 Severin Films Blu-ray edition of Ashanti makes no reference to these "removals," suggesting that they may belong to myth.
Ashanti is an action adventure film, set against the background of modern day slave trading, with a man who determinedly takes on a perilous journey in order to find his beautiful wife, who has been kidnapped by brutal slave traders. David and Anansa Linderby (Caine and Johnson respectively) are doctors with the World Health Organization. On a medical mission carrying out an inoculation programme, they visit a West African village. While David takes photographs of tribal dancers, Anansa goes swimming alone. She is attacked and abducted by slave traders led by Suleiman (Peter Ustinov), who mistake her for an Ashanti tribeswoman. The police can do nothing to find her and David has almost given up hope when he hears rumours that Anansa has been kidnapped by Sulieman to be sold to Arab Prince Hassan (Omar Sharif). The African authorities deny that the slave trade even exists. So David must find help in a shadowy world where the rescuers of slaves are just as ruthless as the traders themselves. As David tracks her across Africa and the Sahara desert, he is helped by a member of the Anti-Slavery League (Rex Harrison), a mercenary helicopter pilot (William Holden), and Malik (Kabir Bedi) a tribesman who is seeking revenge on Suleiman.
- Michael Caine – Dr. David Linderby
- Peter Ustinov – Suleiman
- Kabir Bedi – Malik
- Beverly Johnson – Dr. Anansa Linderby
- Omar Sharif – Prince Hassan
- Rex Harrison – Brian Walker
- William Holden – Jim Sandell
- Zia Mohyeddin – Djamil
- Winston Ntshona – Ansok
- Tariq Yunus – Faid
- Tyrone Jackson – Dongaro
- Akosua Busia – Senoufo girl
- Jean-Luc Bideau – Marcel
- Olu Jacobs – Commissioner Batak
- Johnny Sekka – Captain Bradford
- Marne Maitland – Touareg chief
- Eric Pohlmann – Zeda El-Kabir
- Harry Araten – Slave dealer
- Jack Cohen – German at slave market
- Jay Koller – Buyer at slave market
- Enzo Patti – Pearl dealer
- Ori Levy – Hotel attendant
During filming Omar Sharif was hired to play a role and George MacDonald Fraser, who had recently adapted Tai Pan for the producers, was commissioned to work on the script to help boost Sharif's part.
The novelisation Ebano was written by Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa.
- Beautiful Kenya has a new national goal: To turn itself into the Hollywood of Africa Storey, David. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 10 July 1978: a9.
- Citizen Caine film review
- George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's On at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p205-206