Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Sword & The Statham

Well, I guess I just have no taste at all, as once again, I found myself enjoying another nearly universally-reviled movie.

For the last five years or so, I've been reading about a film director named Uwe Boll, who, if his critics were to be believed, was the living incarnation of Ed Wood. Specializing, as he does, in cinematic adaptations of video games, I had never personally encountered any of his work before last night. However, this weekend I got my chance to sample his wares, when I rented his sword & sorcery opus, In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, starring my favorite film badass of the moment, Jason Statham.

Now, I was unaware of Boll's connection to the movie when I picked up the disc – I was simply intrigued by the thought of The Transporter starring in a sword & sorcery saga. I was further intrigued by the film's offbeat cast: Statham, Ron Perlman, Lelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies, Matthew Lillard, Kristanna Loken, Ray Liotta and Burt Reynolds (!), so I rented it.

Now, maybe Boll is a terrible director, but I couldn't prove it with this film. Sure, it's a pretty by-the-numbers fantasy film, with the usual cliches and corny dialogue – but you know what? I liked it. The fight and battle scenes were really quite well done, the CGI was limited and rather restrained, costume and set design were both excellent, and I never got bored. Granted, Ray Liotta's portrayal of the evil magus was pretty laughable, and I had trouble with the sight of good ol' boy Burt in fur robes and armor (tho he was actually okay in his role), but Statham was a fine, kick-ass hero and Ron Perlman and Rhys-Davies brought some dignity and a touch of class to the flick.

From the reviews online and at the IMDb, you'd believe that this thing was the Plan 9 of fantasy epics. In The Name... isn't The Lord of the Rings or Excalibur, but it's sure as hell not the worst movie I've seen – not even the worst in it's genre. I grew up watching and enjoying stuff like The Beastmaster and The Sword & The Sorcerer, along with Roger Corman's shot-in-Argentina S&S films like Deathstalker, Barbarian Queen and The Warrior & The Sorceress, so I'm obviously pretty forgiving when it comes to the genre. Hell, I rather liked last year's Pathfinder, too, and that one was panned almost as badly as In The Name of the King!

Would I recommend it? I don't know. People seem to be pretty hard to please these days, and determined not to enjoy things. But I plan to buy a copy, if and when I find a cheap used one somewhere, and I'll definitely be watching it again.

But then – I clearly have no taste at all....


Craig Zablo said...

Interesting. I'll have to give this film a look at some point as well. Also, I'm glad to hear you like Pathfinder. I have avoided it, because so many people hated it. How can it be THAT bad. Glad to hear maybe it isn't.

Charles Gramlich said...

I actually thought this looked pretty interesting since I'm a Statham fan as well. And you're right, the actors were eclectic. I will probably see it if it comes on ppv.

Christopher Mills said...

Just remember to keep your expectations reasonable... and if you don't like it, remember that I didn't actually *recommend* it!

laughingwolf said...

cool, i'll keep an eye out for it....

Glen Davis said...

Can't be much worse than Ator: The Fighting Eagle or Hawk the Slayer, or Krull, can it?

Paul Bishop said...


I liked this film. In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale gave me two hours of entertainment and I came out of the theatre feeling good.

I can't say the same for such 'high brow' films as No Country For Old Men (great individual scenes, but a movie that went nowhere) and There Will Be Blood (Gret performance by Daniel Day Lewis, but a drag of a film that again went nowhere).

I'd buy or rewatch this flim any day over the other two.

Anonymous said...

I bought the uncut version of Pathfinder a few months ago. My wife and I both found it to be a LOT of fun to watch. I didn't even know Clancy Brown was in it until I read the back of the DVD package. Talk about lousy marketing!

I'll have to keep an eye out for In the Name of the King now.