Kings of the Sun

6.11 h 47 min1963X-Ray7+
Yul Brynner ("Invitation to a Gunfighter") and George Chakiris ("West Side Story") shine as the kings of two clashing cultures forced to form an alliance against a mutual threat in this gripping historical saga. Directed by J. Lee Thompson.
J. Lee Thompson
Yul BrynnerGeorge ChakirisShirley Anne Field
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Richard BasehartBrad DexterBarry MorseArmando SilvestreLeo GordonVictoria VettriRudy SolariFord Rainey
Lewis J. Rachmil
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4.1 out of 5 stars

478 global ratings

  1. 58% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 18% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 11% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 10% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Charles van BurenReviewed in the United States on August 28, 2022
3.0 out of 5 stars
Not a successful movie
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Historically inaccurate though at the time it was made, many historians and archeologists believed that there was more interaction between Mesoamerica and North America than current scholars believe. Unfortunately the inaccuracies extend beyond that problem.

The movie was neither commercially nor critically successful. Walter Mirisch of Mirisch Company, the producers, had this to say, "Kings of the Sun was not successful, either critically or commercially. It wasn't made for the right reasons, and that is most often an insuperable handicap. Our creative team lacked passion for what we were doing and its commercial values could not overcome that. Not being enthusiastic about it, I should have taken a position. By just letting the project move from one stage to the next, I allowed it to progress further than it should have. Arnold Picker was enthusiastic and kept pushing it, but the problems of making the film and its content were not his responsibility. I always blamed myself for its failure. I had thought of it as a vehicle for the star power of Yul Brynner, who was an important international star by then. But that was not a good enough reason for doing a film about which I had serious misgivings."

There were many problems but in my opinion two of the greatest were George Chakiris and Richard Basehart who were badly miscast. Anthony Quinn was originally scheduled to make the movie with Yul Brynner. Had that worked out, the movie would have certainly been improved if not saved. Certainly audiences would have been saved from Chakiris' overlong 'deer in the headlights' stares.

Great movie or not, I had a girlfriend in college who loved it. Mainly because of Yul Brynner's costume or lack thereof. She particularly liked the scenes in which he was tied to the bed.

May appeal to other Yul Brynner fans with the judicious use of fast forward.
Logain UT AblarReviewed in the United States on August 25, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Yul Brynner is too awesome
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I enjoyed this film. Yes, arguments can be made for various issues with editing, representation and technique but it's better to view this film with the understanding of the era in which it was made. With that in mind, I enjoyed it. Yul Brynner is awesome. His screen presence never ceases to amaze me and he's such a scene stealer. That dude can be in a scene sitting on the toilet singing Mary Had A Little Lamb in a drunken haze and he'd still look and sound like a king doing it. The brown face sucked but again, the era in which this was made.

Although the supporting cast is good for what this film is, make no mistake, Yul Brynner is the reason to watch this. The soundtrack was really good too. The end battle was a bit weak considering how it played out. That's one aspect I just couldn't overlook even with taking the era into consideration mainly because too many aspects of it simply made no sense. But hey, we can't have everything. Still 5*. Made me miss Yul Brynner that much more, probably my favorite actor bar none.
2 people found this helpful
NYLUXReviewed in the United States on July 9, 2009
4.0 out of 5 stars
GREAT Discovery
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"Kings of the Sun" is the story of an adventure that probably never happened, but would have been great if it did: A Maya king flees his homeland and a bloodthirsty enemy, in a fleet and lands north enough to encounter native Americans of which Brynner is the chief, Black Eagle, a charismatic leader that tries to negotiate a pact with the refugee nation and bond with their beautiful, blue-eyed princess, Ixchel (Anne Field).

George Chakiris plays Balam, the Maya, king, Black Eagle's rival for her affections, and son of kings to the ninth generation. In spite of being young and impetuous, Chakiris lacks the flair and commanding presence for the role. He is also strapped with a shirt that looks like a Fendi creation for the first scenes and with a jade armour in the war scenes that looks uncomfortably plastic, and which offer little competition for Brynner's virile sensuality in his shirtless and tight Indian pants costume.

A good comparison between these two Indian chiefs, brings to mind another Bryner classic hunk to hunk competition: It is hard to concentrate on Charles Heston's Moses in the Ten Commandments while Bryner's Ramses is in the same scene wearing a magnificent collar-necklace and pretty much nothingelse. Keeping the shaved head look as his trademark for this exotic epic, Brynner yet again steals the show with his macho antics, and 'barbaric' demeanor, at one point climbing a tree with the suppleness of a panther. This movie is clearly a vehicle for his star personality and it outshines all the other players and if you are a Brynner fan, this is a must-see movie.

The movie is great fun, but highly inaccurate in the historical aspects, although the costumes and architecture have been finely reproduced for the most part, the viewer must see Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" for a more authentic version of the period, still considering other Holywood creations of the time, this is almost scholarly. The opening scenes inside a Maya pyramid are fascinating for the creativity involved in making an entire army attend a funeral and escape into the fields through a secret tunnel while the top pf the pyramid is being assulted by the crazed Hunac Kell.

Richard Basehart is the high priest, and the other major character. He tries to make the king understand that he cannot bring this new life to his people in a new land, without giving a life (human sacrifice) But Balam is ready to change the theology of his nation under the influence of Black Eagle and the desire for peace, so the priest takes his own life in a dramatic moment at the top of the recently constructed pyramid.

Leo Gordon is awful as the tyrant Hunac Kell, the bllodthirsty enemy of Balam and his people. He sounds like a marine gone bezerk while wearing the wrong costume. His strength is a sword of metal, a historical impossibility as the Maya or for that matter Mesoamerican cultures did not use metal for their weapons prior to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors.

Filmed beautifully around real Mexican pyramids, lucious vegetation and sandy beaches with perfect surf, Thompson's motion picture is colorful and highly entertaining. Strongly recomended for action film lovers of historical extravaganzas.
7 people found this helpful
Esperanza ReynoldsReviewed in the United States on December 6, 2008
5.0 out of 5 stars
Yul Brynner at his best...
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Kings of the Sun, a 1963 movie starring Yul Brynner and George Chakiris is another classic not to be missed. We acquired this movie because we are die-hard fans of Mr. Brynner, who born on July 11th, 1920, lived to the age of 65, when he died of lung cancer. A Russian-born actor, Yul Brynner brought magic to the screen in roles as the King... in the King and I, "The Magnificent Seven" and in his unforgettable performance as Rameses II in the epic "The Ten Commandments."

Those of us who admire Yul Brynner can not forget and truly miss the grand figure, the deep voice and his exotic looks, for he brought elegance and presence to men with shaven heads.

In this movie, Brynner again delights with his star power as he plays the role of ruler of an indigenous nomadic American civilization. The story starts with ancient members of the Mayan civilization fleeing their kingdom because they are persecuted by a tribe with more advanced weapons.

Balam is the son of the king of this group who believes in human sacrifice to prosper. You see they are wise and have thought of many interesting ways to protect themselves, for as they escape, they do so through an elaborate sequence of secret passages that allow them enough time to go to the shore, where they meet villagers with boats they take, setting out to unknown lands.

The villagers want nothing to do with Balam, but they understand he is being followed by men who will not hesitate to kill them, and the leader of the village makes Balam promise that if they give them the boats, he will marry and make his daughter their queen.

Ixchel, beautifully played by Shirley Anne Field is upset that her father has made Balam agree to marry her because she wants to marry for love.

They set out to sea and arrive at what appears to be uninhabited lands, and soon they set out to build homes, recreating their previous way of life, but this time, in the absence of human sacrifice, something that Balam dislikes.

They are so advanced that they record their history through artisans that carve the tribe story onto walls and trees. Balam is a bit of an engineer and an architect and we see him creating dams to benefit from river waters to irrigate fields to plant crops and have food available for their people.

But, there are people that live on this land, and Yul Brynner enters as the ruler of the nomadic tribe, Black Eagle, who upon discovering ships by the shore, travels to discover those that arrived on his land. Black Eagle attacks Balam and is wounded, taken prisoner, and tended to in preparation for human sacrifice to the Gods.

Ixchel nurses Black Eagle back to health and when he discovers that it was all in preparation to be killed, he tells them that superstition is wrong, that the preservation of life is the essence of civilization, and both Black Eagle and Balam begin to learn much from the other's point of view.

The plot thickens and without giving away the story, Yul Brynner achieves much in changing Balam as he realizes that Balam has wisdom, knowledge, and much that his nomadic tribe can benefit from. Hunac Ceel, played by Leo Gordon follows Balam to the new land, and attacks them... Will the tribe survive? Well... Black Eagle and Balam join forces and you will see magnificent lessons on how to accept change to foster an environment of peace. Without a doubt, a magnificent film, great performances, and another classic to enjoy with friends and family!

Don't miss it!
2 people found this helpful
MarkleeReviewed in the United States on February 13, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
How NOT to do a film.
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This film should be required viewing in film school. Redeeming qualities are it's score and cinematography. It is not boring due to the absolutely stupid screenplay, make up, costume design and casting. Good locations, however. Wonderful to see the vintage first rate actors reciting such lines as "I say strange boats bring strange people". Brad Dexter running around in this ridiculous hat and carrying a wooden saber(?) is priceless. At around the same time this film was made there was some Hollywood interest in doing Lew Wallace's THE FAIR GOD, a novel of the conquest of Mexico. Wallace wrote BEN-HUR. This movie killed this idea. Anyway, Kings is a rare film about Meso America which I highly recommend. Kino's Blu Ray overall is an adequate transfer of a decent print. If you like the subject, APOCALYPTO is a great film and a must have.
2 people found this helpful
Raisuli the MagnificentReviewed in the United States on December 7, 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Decent old school historic epic
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I had never heard of this film before, saw a bit of it, found a reasonably used bluray here on Amazon, and took a chance on it. Wow, a really decent film in the tradition of a lot of old fashioned epics that came out of the earliest days of film making up through the 60s where historic epics were all the rage.

Meso Americans meet their more tribal cousins int he Americas, and drama ensues. If I had a criticism it's that there isn't, so far as I can tell, a single Native American nor Mexican actor involved in this thing. Even so, even though it's a film of its time where white actors were cast in all roles regardless of the ethnicitiy needed, it is a pretty decent story regarding the clash of societal values. It's more social architecture, but this one doesn't layer on massive numbers of multiple messages for the audience to digest. There's a basic story of escape, rebuilding, and meeting a new people, along with a romantic subplot.

One of the reasons this film may not be better knows is that it deals with Native American people, and perhaps that wasn't such an interesting topic. But in all the years I've been watching movies on TV thyroughout the 70s and 80s, the majority of which were recycled fare from the 40s, 50s and 60s, I never so much as saw a hint of this film, so it was a real treat to see something "new", so to speak, and fresh from the hay-day of Hollywood's golden era.

The film takes liberties with historical fact, but all good stories do that. No CGI, no primitive miniature SFX, all of this is live action with an army of stuntmen and extras giving us action.

A pretty decent film. Check it out.
24 people found this helpful
a movie fanReviewed in the United States on October 14, 2018
3.0 out of 5 stars
Apocalypto Then
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I have a great fondness for historical epics, which is to say a considerable forgiveness for historical lapses. Like SF, there is a joy just to see another exotic world brought to life. This one is entertaining, and worth watching, but is far from the upper echelons of the genre. The photography is impressive but rather soft, possibly because the bit rate of the Blu-ray hovers around 20 Mbs (OK, but not the highest of HD) but more likely from limitations in the original film stock. There is a blurriness in the titles which makes me wonder about the transfer protocols. The acting is generally good, and Yul Brynner gives his most physical and fervid performance ever, hovering on the edge of the ridiculous at times but that is the territory of genius (and a far cry from Duncan Shepherd's assessment after seeing him play a robot in Westworld: "within his range"). If he had no dialogue, it might have been his masterpiece but he has to pause to utter cliches that advance the romantic subplot. That Mayans and Native Americans who just met actually speak the same language is part of what you have to forgive. Also the battle scenes, which are impressive in scope (a cast of thousands!) and absurd in execution. It's a good case for why, just a few years later, Sam Peckinpah went nuts with the blood squibs. A battle cuts from a staircase full of warriors to an empty one, from hundreds of warriors fighting to hundreds just standing around. It looks a lot like kids playing pirate with wooden swords. J. Lee Thompson has a reputation for action movies, probably from Guns of Navarone (which now looks to me like a happy accident), but I've just watched 3 of his films and the action sequences are poor in all of them.
Brynner and Chakiris look their parts well enough, but the other Anglos look horribly out of place (another thing to forgive). However, a critical component of a good epic is the set dressing, costuming, etc. and, apart from some plastic headgear, this film does a credible job.
All in all, a pleasant diversion and an unusual scenario, which needed a better director.
4 people found this helpful
Mike DouglassReviewed in the United States on August 9, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great Movie!
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Movie was made with all the great stars. Don't see movies like this anymore, where the army is 5 guys running around! It was made with hundreds and hundreds! Very enjoyable to watch.
2 people found this helpful
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