Kings of the Sun J. Lee Thompson

It’s not every day that you see Hollywood movies about Mayans making nice with Apaches but Kings of the Sun is just special enough to try. And though it might be pushing it to say it’s at all adequate to the task, there are enough tacky "WTF?” moments to keep you from drifting off. A horribly miscast George Chakiris (yes, Bernardo from West Side Story) somehow finds himself leading his Mayans out of pre-Columbian Mexico. This eventually means he encroaches on Apache land and earns the ire of Yul Brynner. But they put their differences behind them and resolve to respect each other — if only they could work out that little ritual sacrifice snag. Most of the interest in this movie comes in the form of Shirley Ann Field, who while betrothed to Chakiris, has some pretty sexy scenes with an imprisoned Brynner, even though they don’t exactly go anywhere; her winsome tenderness makes a great foil to Brynner, at home playing an Apache, a Cossack or a Hebraic king. On the side are a couple of haphazardly impressive battle scenes and the kind of garishly coloured costumes that don’t exactly register as credible. Given that this is Hollywood’s one shot at the subject, you wish it had been handed to someone better than journeyman hack J. Lee Thompson, but though he fluffs the political implications (while pretending they’re actually there), he keeps things moving and never makes you wish you were somewhere else. Cheesy though it might be, you have to admit that this movie is its own thing, Technicolour feathers and all, and worth the rental just for a weird change of pace. (MGM)