ASHANTI is breathtaking adventure of a man who resolutely takes on a treacherous journey in order to find his beautiful wife, who has been kidnapped by ruthless slave traders. David and Anansa Linderby (Michael Caine and Beverly Johnson) are doctors with the World Health Organization. On a medical mission, 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). Enraged, David sets off after Anansa. As David tracks her across Africa and the Sahara desert, he is helped by a member of the Anti-Slavery League (Rex Harrison), a helicopter pilot (William Holden), and Malik (Kabir Bedi) a tribesman who is seeking revenge on Suleiman.
ASHANTI is set against the background of the modern slave trade. The Linderbys are both doctors, but David (Michael Caine) is English and white, while Anansa (Beverly Johnson) is American and black--her ancestors were from the Ashanti kingdom in Ghana. Believing she is a native Ashanti, Anansa's abductors are surprised to discover that she speaks English and is a World Health Organization doctor. When Suleiman (Peter Ustinov) discovers who she is, he realizes that he is likely to make more money than usual--and end up in much more trouble.
Director Richard Fleischer's ASHANTI is essentially a revenge story, but, unlike the western THE BRAVADOS or the urban thriller DEATH WISH, the film is set in exotic location of desert Africa. The movie is distinguished by some beautiful Saharan vistas provided by Italian master photographer Aldo Tonti. Kabir Bedi gives an intense performance as Malik, the tribesman who lost his own wife and children to the slave trader. And the graceful Beverly Johnson gives a dignified authority to Anansa, the beautiful Ashanti.
The film was shot on location in Kenya, Israel, and Sicily.
ASHANTI was the second film that master Italian photographer Aldo Tonti made with Richard Fleischer--their first very fruitful collaboration produced BARRABAS. In his long distinguished career, Tonti was also director of photography on Luchino Visconti's OSSESSIONE, King Vidor's WAR AND PEACE, Federico Fellini's NIGHTS OF CABIRIA and John Huston's RELECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE. ASHANTI was his last film.