The 13th Warrior is a 1999 fantasy action film starring Antonio Banderas as Ahmad ibn Fadlan and Vladimir Kulich as Buliwyf; it is based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton. It was directed by John McTiernan and an uncredited Crichton.
The 13th Warrior was a disappointment at the box office, earning only US $61,698,899 worldwide in the release.
The plot follows Ahmed ibn Fadlan (Antonio Banderas), a court poet whose brush with a wife of an influential noble gets him exiled to the North as an "ambassador". Traveling with Melchisidek (Omar Sharif), his caravan is saved from Mongol Tatars bandits by the appearance of Vikings. The caravan rests at a Viking settlement, and communication ensues despite the language barrier as Ahmed speaks only Arabic and most of the Vikings speak only Norse. However Melchisidek and Herger, the Vikings' skald, both speak Vulgate Latin. Ahmed is bewildered yet fascinated by foreign ways, as a youth enters the camp and requests aid for his distant village against an old and supernatural force. Through the commands of an oracle, it is decided that exactly thirteen men must go to face this danger, and that the thirteenth must not be a Norseman; Ahmed is recruited. Ahmed learns Norse quickly by sitting amongst the group and listening intently to their conversations, eventually beginning to understand what they are saying. He feels he has to prove himself to the uniformly huge Vikings, who mock him for his physical weakness and his small Arabian horse, but his fast learning of their language, ingenuity, and horsemanship eventually earn their respect and friendship.
The foe, known as the 'Wendol', have the appearance of both man and bear, although no bodies are left behind after their first nocturnal clash. In fact they resemble pre-homo sapiens affecting the appearance of bears by wearing bear hides to confuse and instill fear into their enemies. Immediately before their first battle, a terrified Ahmed states that he is not a warrior, to which Herger replies, "Very soon, you will be." Losing members of their small force with each battle, and finding the settlement indefensible, the group is told by a very old woman in the village to track the Wendol to their lair and attack them, killing the Mother and the Leader. Buliwyf and the remaining warriors track the Wendol, and uncover that they are cannibals; a chamber in the Wendol lair is full of human bones that have been gnawed upon. Buliwyf kills the Mother of the Wendol, but is poisoned by her.
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