Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Four Warriors (2015)

A brave, if ultimately flawed, attempt to give us some very low budget sword and sorcery in the wake of the success of GAME OF THRONES, director Phil (LAST SHOWING) Hawkins’ fantasy film arrives on UK DVD courtesy of Metrodome.
Returning home from the crusades, three soldiers and their prisoner come across a village devastated by an evil force that has abducted all the men and nearly all the children. The women of the village eventually manage to convince our heroes to stay and help them and pretty soon everyone is erecting barricades, organising a formal night’s watch and keeping an eye out for the mystical baddies. Despite their best efforts, the one remaining little boy gets pinched, and so off into the forest they go, minus one of their number who’s been scratched by Something Evil, with village warrior Alina in his place. 

With the help of the wizard Baliphar (Kristian Nairn) they discover the men are being put to work in nearby mines to dig out four fabulous jewels that are the actual four warriors of the title (I think). Will the gang be able to infiltrate the mine, kill the bad guys and rescue both the village people and the jewels? Will the prisoner from the start of the film come through to keep the numbers constant in a no doubt unintentional tribute to BLAKE'S SEVEN? 
FOUR WARRIORS is a bit of a curate’s egg of a film. The costumes and production design are excellent - one presumes this was filmed in one of those Museums of Rural Life but if not they’ve done an excellent job of building a medieval village. Performances are best described as coming from enthusiastic amateurs. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, but one gets the feeling this is more a project put together on weekends by fantasy fans than a professional effort.

The main problem with FOUR WARRIORS however, is the pacing. It desperately wants to be GAME OF THRONES meets THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN but it could actually learn a thing or two from less worthy efforts like HAWK THE SLAYER and SWORD & THE SORCEROR. The time spent in the village is probably intended to build the characters and allow for relationship development, but the whole thing just drags when there should be more monster fights. Consequently, when we get to the end and find that there is a villainous monster king-thing, it feels like an afterthought and comes as something of a surprise, as if they suddenly realised it was supposed to be a sword and sorcery picture rather than just sword (something FOUR WARRIORS would probably have been better off doing). 
        As the above hopefully suggests, FOUR WARRIORS isn’t all bad. There’s a pleasing sense of period and every now and then the photography is really pretty good. Just don’t go looking for an adventure picture and, if you’re an undiscerning fan of period fantasy, you might well enjoy this. Metrodome’s review copy did not provide any extras, but cast and crew interviews are promised. 

Metrodome are releasing THE FOUR WARRIORS on Region 2 DVD on 13th July 2015

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