Saturday, April 09, 2016

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Flash Gordon: "Chapter 12: Tournament of Death" (December 8, 1979)

Our multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Mongo/Earth team in Filmation's Flash Gordon (1979-1982) is now in the clutches of Ming the Merciless and Princess Aura, as Chapter 12, "Tournament of Death," commences. 

There are some lovely views of Mingo City in this installment of the animated series as Gordon, Zarkov, Dale, Thun, Barin and Vultan are escorted (in shackles...) into the metropolis to participate in "the great games."

As for Prince Barin, he has a plan. If he wins in the arena, he can marry the woman of his choice; and he wants Princess Aura. 

Unfortunately, she wants to be the bride of Flash Gordon. Barin is jealous, and angry with Flash, even though Flash claims to have no interest in Ming's daughter.

Before the games commence, Flash engineers an escape into the caves beneath Mingo City, using Zarkov's inviso-ray to take out several of Ming's metal men. The team subsequently escapes, but Aura sends three dragons -- the "Royal Groks" -- after them. 

Flash gets the Groks to fight each other instead of the humans, but then there's another obstacle to face. The group encounters "The Cavern of Fire," and the only way to escape is through a tunnel on the far side of the "flame barrier." A cable car can carry them there if they wear protective biohazard suits, but Aura intercepts the fugitives and re-captures Flash, Dale and Zarkov. Vultan, Thun and Barin are free.

But again, Barin has a plan...

While Ming threatens to take Dale to his "apartment," Flash is led to the arena. 

"Let the Great Games begin," Ming declares, as Flash the gladiator fights many of the creatures we've seen in previous episodes. There are royal Groks, the lobster-like "Talors" (The Fire King...), and the giant blue magic worm from Azura's kingdom, among others.

Flash makes short work of the beasts and other gladiators (including a man with a bull-head - a minotaur?), but then runs into a tough masked warrior who suspiciously resembles Prince Barin. In fact, he uses a bow, and is garbed in Barin's gear, but wears a black sack over his head.

At the end, only Flash and the Arborian prince stand, and Ming warns that the gladiators must next face the dreaded "cable of green flame." Whatever that is...

Next Week: "Castaways in Tropica."

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