- 2 hr 25 min
In the world of Knightriders, modern-day knights ride motorcycles instead of horses and compete in jousting tournaments for the entertainment of crowds. Led by their charismatic and chivalrous leader, Billy (Ed Harris), the knights have formed a tight-knit community that values honor and friendship above all else. However, tensions within the group begin to rise as Billy's dedication to the ideals of chivalry clashes with the pressures of commercialization and the desire for individual recognition. While some of the knights are content to perform in small town festivals and maintain their traditions, others long for bigger arenas and greater fame.
Meanwhile, Billy's friendship with Morgan (Gary Lahti), his trusted right-hand man, is tested when both men become romantically involved with the same woman, the feisty and independent Linet (Amy Ingersoll). As jealousy and rivalry threaten to tear the knights apart, Billy must confront the question of whether his vision of knighthood can survive in a world that values money and spectacle over honor and community.
Directed by horror icon George A. Romero and featuring a standout performance by Harris, Knightriders defies easy categorization. Part drama, part action film, part medieval fantasy, it is a unique and ambitious work that explores themes of loyalty, identity, and the power of myth in contemporary society.
One of the film's most striking features is its portrayal of the jousting contests, which are choreographed with remarkable skill and performed with real motorcycles instead of props. The knights wear full suits of armor and wield lances, but they are also skilled riders capable of elaborate maneuvers and acrobatics. The jousts themselves are tense and thrilling, with the outcome always in doubt and the possibility of injury or even death ever-present.
Yet for all its action and spectacle, Knightriders is ultimately a character-driven story that delves deep into the psyches of its main players. Harris gives a commanding and nuanced performance as Billy, a man whose devotion to his ideals sometimes blinds him to the realities of the world around him. Lahti and Ingersoll are equally strong as Morgan and Linet, respectively, playing characters who are flawed and complex in their own right.
The supporting cast includes several notable actors, including horror legend Tom Savini as a ruthless promoter who sees the knights as mere commodities, and Patricia Tallman as Billy's loyal but conflicted wife.
At its core, Knightriders is a meditation on the nature of heroism and the power of myth to shape our lives. The knights may be modern-day outcasts, but they are also inheritors of a rich tradition that transcends time and place. In embodying the ideals of chivalry, they stand as a beacon of hope and inspiration for those who value honor and decency in a world that often seems to have lost its way.
Knightriders is not without its flaws. At over two hours long, it can feel bloated and meandering at times, and some of the characters are underdeveloped or thinly drawn. The film's blend of genres may also confuse or alienate some viewers, particularly those expecting a straightforward action movie or medieval epic.
Nevertheless, Knightriders remains a fascinating and singular work that rewards close attention and rewards repeated viewings. Its themes of loyalty, friendship, and honor are timeless, and its vision of a world where knights still roam the land may inspire a renewed appreciation for the power of myth and legend in our lives.
Knightriders is a 1981 action movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 25 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.3 and a MetaScore of 69.