Ashanti (aka Ashanti, Land of No Mercy) is a 1979 adventure film, produced by Georges-Alain Vuille, and directed by Richard Fleischer. Despite its impressive cast and setting (on location in the Sahara, and in Kenya, Israel, and Sicily), it was widely panned by critics upon release. Michael Caine was reportedly disappointed with the project, after director Fleischer and co-star Beverly Johnson, were both removed from filming two-thirds of the way through the shoot. Fleischer, as a result of being hospitalised with sunstroke.
This is one of William Holden's final films. Both Fleischer and cinematographer Tonti had previously worked together on Barabbas (1962).
Ashanti is an action adventure film, set against the background of modern day slave trading, with a man who determinedly takes on a perilous journey in order to find his beautiful wife, who has been kidnapped by brutal slave traders. David and Anansa Linderby (Caine and Johnson respectively) are doctors with the World Health Organization. On a medical mission carrying out an inoculation programme, they visit a West African village. While David takes photographs of tribal dancers, Anansa goes swimming alone. She is attacked and abducted by slave traders led by Suleiman (Peter Ustinov), who mistake her for an Ashanti tribeswoman.
The police can do nothing to find her and David has almost given up hope when he hears rumours that Anansa has been kidnapped by Sulieman to be sold to Arab Prince Hassan (Omar Sharif). The African authorities deny that the slave trade even exists so David must find help in a shadowy world where the rescuers of slaves are just as ruthless as the traders themselves. As David tracks her across Africa and the Sahara desert, he is helped by a member of the Anti-Slavery League (Rex Harrison), a mercenary helicopter pilot (William Holden), and Malik (Kabir Bedi) a tribesman who is seeking revenge on Suleiman.
The formulaic plot of a 'disappearing wife' has since been used to good effect by Roman Polanski in his film Frantic, with drama surrounding the confusion of her loss and the tension of the chase.
- Michael Caine - Dr. David Linderby
- Peter Ustinov - Suleiman
- Kabir Bedi - Malik
- Beverly Johnson - Dr. Anansa Linderby
- Omar Sharif - Prince Hassan
- Rex Harrison - Brian Walker
- William Holden - Jim Sandell
- Zia Mohyeddin - Djamil
- Winston Ntshona - Ansok
- Tariq Yunus - Faid
- Tyrone Jackson - Dongaro
- Akosua Busia - Senoufo girl
- Jean-Luc Bideau - Marcel
- Olu Jacobs - Commissioner Batak
- Johnny Sekka - Captain Bradford
- Marne Maitland - Touareg chief
- Eric Pohlmann - Zeda El-Kabir
- Harry Araten - Slave dealer
- Jack Cohen - German at slave market
- Jay Koller - Buyer at slave market
- Enzo Patti - Pearl dealer
- Ori Levy - Hotel attendant
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