The Deceivers (film)

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The Deceivers
DVD cover
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Produced by Ismail Merchant
Written by Michael Hirst
Music by John Scott
Cinematography Walter Lassally
Edited by Richard Trevor
Distributed by Cinecom Pictures
Release dates
September 2, 1988
Running time
102 minutes
Country India
Language English
Box office $346,297[1]

The Deceivers is a 1988 adventure film directed by Nicholas Meyer. It stars Pierce Brosnan and Saeed Jaffrey. The film is based on the 1952 John Masters novel of the same name.[2]


The film takes place in 1825 India. The country is being ravaged by Thuggees, a Kali-worshiping cult also known as "Deceivers," who commit robbery and ritualistic murder. Appalled by their activities, English Captain William Savage undertakes a dangerous mission in which he disguises himself, and infiltrates the Thugee cult. At constant risk of betrayal and vengeance, Captain Savage undergoes a disturbing psychological transformation, experiencing the cult's insatiable bloodlust for himself. The film was shot in various locations around the arid steppe region in northwestern India.



Shooting took place over a four-month period in India while post-production was completed in London. According to Meyer's memoir, The View from the Bridge, the production was subject to frequent disruption from the local Jaipur mafia for declining to make any dealings with their head. Meyer wrote, "Scores of hooligans stormed through our sets while we were rolling; equipment was sabotaged or stolen; 'cultural' societies were founded for the sole purpose of suing us, alleging pornographic distortions of Indian culture."[3] Despite these disruptions, Meyer spoke highly of his production crew, stating, "One day when we needed our tulip crane for a big shot, I was flummoxed to learn that four of its bolts had been stolen, incapacitating a vital piece of equipment. I don't deal well with last minute alterations to The Plan, but my Indian crew managed to mill four new bolts by the time we were ready to roll."[3]


The Deceivers was released on September 2, 1988 and received mostly negative reviews from film critics. The film currently has a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 5 reviews.[4]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a mediocre review and stated that, "Despite the film's claims to be based on fact, I didn't believe it for a moment. I did, however, enjoy it at various moments. Brosnan disappears so completely into the leading role that he hardly seems present in the movie, and the film's portrait of Victorian India is a triumph (the production was designed by the British master of period atmosphere, Tony Adams). It looks great even at its most incredible."[5] Janet Maslin of The New York Times also thought negatively of the film, stating "The tinniness of Michael Hirst's screenplay (It's older than time and just as mysterious) hardly helps bring this material to life, any more than Mr. Brosnan's unconvincing and (despite several episodes in which he proves himself capable of violent killing) rather passive performance." Maslin then went on to say that, "In its own way, The Deceivers is oddly old-fashioned."[6]

Conversely, Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel gave the film modest praise, saying it "casts quite a spell, combining supernatural overtones with scenes of shootings, stabbings and (especially) strangulations. Without being crude or exploitative it tells its story in a modest, old-fashioned way with no reliance on gratuitous gore."[7]

Home media[edit]

The Deceivers was released on DVD through The Criterion Collection.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Deceivers (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 5, 2015. 
  2. ^ Deceivers > Overview - AllMovie.
  3. ^ a b Meyer, Nicholas (2009). The View From the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood. NY: Viking. pp. 181–186. ISBN 978-0-670-02130-7. 
  4. ^ "The Deceivers Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved August 18, 2010. 
  5. ^ Roger Ebert (September 23, 1988). "The Deceivers". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 18, 2010. 
  6. ^ Janet Maslin (September 2, 1988). "Review/Film; Going Undercover in 1820's India". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved August 18, 2010. 
  7. ^ Boyar, Jay (February 17, 1989). "The Deceivers review". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  8. ^ The Deceivers: Nicholas Meyer. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 11 April 2012.

External links[edit]