Mystics in Bali (1981)

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the Indonesian government apparently discovered that films could be a lucrative source of foreign revenue, so a number of B-movies were produced, and then exported them to the West. One of these films was Mystics in Bali, a B-movie that is somewhat notable for its focus on black magic and Balinese mythology, particularly the leyak, a vampiric creature that takes the form of a flying head with hanging entrails. This is one of those low budget horror films that seems to playfully embrace its unbelievable premise to gory effect, and this sort of thing made it a hit among fans of cult horror films, and somehow, this film is in the public domain.

The plot centres on a woman named Cathy Kean, a foreign woman (depending on the dub, she is either American or Australian) who visits Bali in order to write a book on black magic, and therefore sets out to learn Leák magic, which she first heard of through her Balinese lover Mahendra. She takes lessons in black magic from the Queen of the Leák, who takes her in as her disciple and teaches her some powerful black magic, but at the price of turning her into a Leyak that must feast on the blood of newborns in order to give her master power, and it is left to the local holy men of the village to stop the forces of evil from gaining too much power.

I would call it standard horror stuff but it isn’t. The premise is very original, but the writing isn’t very good. It’s very obvious that the writers weren’t taking the film very seriously, and this is shown by the cheesy way in which the witch acts. Another flaw is that you have characters that appear from out of nowhere, and are given little screen time, so when they do appear, you’re wondering “when did they come in?”, which isn’t exactly good writing.

The acting isn’t terrible, but it’s cheesy. In fact, the English dub actually plays into the silliness of the film, which I guess is not the worst thing in the world for something like this. Here’s a fun fact though. Apparently Ilona Agathe Bastian, the actress playing the lead role, never actually acted before this film, and was a German tourist who was chosen at random by the wife of one of the film’s producers to play Cathy. That explains a fair bit.

Given that this is a low budget horror film, except a lot of cheesy special effects, and you’ll notice that the film itself looks drastically more computerised when some of the magical transformation effects happen. It’s not the cheesiest you can get out of special effects, but it can get pretty comical from here. The film isn’t terribly gory, but if you have a weak stomach, I wouldn’t recommend it.

I don’t think there’s much more I can say about this particular film. Other than its unique premise, it’s not very special, but it does have its moments.

  • Score: 57%
  • Grade: D
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Crash (1996)

Much has been made about J.G. Ballard’s Crash. You don’t even need to have read it, because the mere idea of its central premise – which concerned a group of people who become sexually aroused by staging car crashes – tells you what you need to know about why it was controversial. Naturally, you’d think that a film adaptation wouldn’t be as flaccid as what David Cronenberg’s adaptation turned out to be, but sadly I was disappointed. It takes a volatile premise of car crash fetishism and somehow turns it into a dull and boring sex fest that twists in the wind so slowly you won’t even pay attention.

The plot of the film focuses on film producer James Ballard and his wife Catherine, who are in an open marriage in which they engage in infidelities with other people, but have a lethargic love life. One night James survives a car crash and shortly begins an affair with Dr. Helen Remington, with whom he shares a bizarre sexual fetish derived from the sensation of a car crash, which James uses to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife. To understand their newfound fetish, they become followers of an underground cult of fetishists, the leader of whom believes that there is a strong connection between the violence of a car crash and the passion of sex.

As bizarre and as sultry as that sounds, it’s actually quite boring. In his own decidedly more positive review, the late Roger Ebert likened the film to “a porno movie made by a computer”, and called it “a dissection of the mechanics of pornography”. He wouldn’t have been wrong. The film certainly had this mechanical feel to it, and that might have been one of the biggest problems with the film. There’s no passion whatsoever, and whatever semblance of passion just seems artificial. Another problem is that the film isn’t exactly coherent in terms of storytelling, and the pacing is quite slow.

The acting is quite lifeless too. I’m sure James Spader has been in better films than this, because I don’t think Mr. Cronenberg got a very good performance out of him, nor out of any of the other actors. Elias Koteas was quite decent, but he wasn’t that great. The characters to me seemed quite dry and stale, and colder than snowmen, but with dormant hints of the animalistic passion that should have been at the fore in the film.

The presentation was okay, but it looked mediocre. I’d say the musical score was the best part of the movie, if mainly because it has a nice, sombre ambience that complements the film’s approach, along with the sparse, atmospheric use of electric guitars. Other than that, Crash was one boring film. Shockingly boring in fact. I’m actually quite surprised by how boring this was, but given the mechanical nature of the film, that should not of been a surprise. This glacial treatment of J.G. Ballard was perhaps a bold attempt, and was certainly controversial during its release, but you’re not missing much.

  • Score: 54%
  • Grade: D

Daughters of Satan (1972)

I’ve said it many times before on this site, but I find that horror movies tend to be pretty boring, especially the occult-themed horror films of the 1970’s. Daughters of Satan is no exception, suffering the same exact problems as Virgin Witch, which I already reviewed last month. In fact it’s a prime example of what I’m talking about. You have a horror film whose sole purpose is to sell a sultry, cliché infested fantasy by offering whatever people in the early 1970’s considered titillating, whose writers didn’t even bother writing a decent plot that stands out in a crowded market. This film’s story may as well be the story of a glut of other films of its time.

The story of this film revolves around James and Chris Robertson, a married couple living out in the Philippines who become involved with a cult after James brings home a painting that depicts the burning of a witch who looks like wife, Chris. The painting gradually takes over Chris’ personality, and joins with two reincarnated witches in order to destroy James.

I will be blunt, the story is completely daft. How on earth does a painting take over the personality of a woman just because they look alike? To many it screeches of lazy writing from a band of hacks. It also doesn’t help that the film is slowly paced, and most of the plot is actually boring conversation. If they’re going to make some cheesy occult horror film like one that’s already been repeated over and over again, they should have at least put in something interesting to keep you watching, because if I’m being very honest, who honestly enjoys watching this? If you do let me know in the comment section and make your case for why this is an underrated classic.

Most people who’ve heard of this film have probably know this as an early screen role for Tom Selleck, and honestly, he’s not bad in this film, although he does kind of take a backseat to the witches in the film, which doesn’t seem like the mark of a good film. The acting overall is very mediocre. None of the characters were even remotely convincing, and everyone in the film was a bore. Not an intolerable bore, but a bore nonetheless.

The presentation isn’t too bad, but it looks and sounds pretty typical for its time, and it certainly doesn’t get you interested at all, and that’s too bad because the way I see it, it’s basically just another Virgin Witch. They’re marketed the same, and one of the characters’ name is even a variation of Virgin Witch’s Christine. If anyone can help it, they won’t watch the movie because it’s boring. It’s not the worst film you can find. I’ve absolutely seen and reviewed worse on this site, but if you can help, stay away from the film. If you must watch it however, don’t pay for it. It’d be a waste of your hard-earned money, and I’m convinced most films of the genre are.

  • Score: 47%
  • Grade: D

Caligula (1979)

Picture this for a moment. You have Tinto Brass working with an illustrious cast led by Malcolm McDowell, working with a screenplay by Gore Vidal, high production values, it seemed as if this film had all the right ingredients that made a classic, or a close approximation of one, so what went wrong? Well somehow the founder of Penthouse magazine, Bob Guccione, became the film’s producer. While Tinto Brass wanted to make the film as a political satire, Guccione simply wanted an extravagant, high class porno, and because the producers didn’t let Brass edit the film at all, Guccione was free to put in as much unsimulated sex scenes as he wanted, completely disregarding Brass’ original vision.

I’m no prude, but needless to say, I can understand why Roger Ebert walked out on this film. It seems to have no worth other than as an extravagant cavalcade of degeneracy, devoid of the meaning that Tinto Brass had hoped to bestow upon it. Seriously, I’ve seen some messed up stuff in films, but this film, with its lurid, feverishly graphic sex scenes that you’d now find only in the some of the more hardcore online pornography, stretches it for two-and-a-half long hours. If Guccione attended something arousing then he’s surely failed. He bastardised what could have been a truly great film for nothing.

As for the plot, it’s essentially sex-crazed retelling of the rise and fall of the infamous Roman emperor Caligula, who ascended to the throne after the death of his predecessor Tiberius. The film details some of Caligula’s eccentricities, but isn’t exactly historically accurate. It’s historically accurate to some degree, but I don’t recall Roman historical accounts of a red wall with rotating blades beneath it that chopped the heads off of anyone buried up to their necks.

I assume this is the film from which people get their assumptions of “pagan Roman debauchery”, some of them using it to say “this is why Christianity is better”. Keep in mind this was a film produced by Penthouse, a magazine that specialised in smut. Certainly that’s what Bob Guccione wanted out of Caligula, and in fact, much of the sex scenes, which are often stretched beyond belief and often seem like they interrupt the plot anytime something interesting actually happens, were filmed by him, rather than Tinto Brass. If you’re impression of Roman history comes from here then I don’t really know what to tell you.

The acting is actually quite good, but it’s Malcolm McDowell whose fine acting talents truly carry the film. In keeping with the garish, over-the-top interpretation of Imperial Rome that he is cast in, McDowell raises the level of his performance to match the gaudiness of it all. It tends to result in him overacting, but with McDowell it’s quite riveting. His charged performance really stole the show and made the film at least more tolerable to watch.

Another plus side to the film is its tremendous production values. The whole film looks extravagant and gaudy, the film is given a booming classical music score. I suppose this was part of the producers’ attempt to give the film an extraordinarily opulent atmosphere, but thanks to the frequently overstretched hardcore sex scenes and spates of gore, the film’s atmosphere has more of a grotesque opulence. Maybe that was intentional. To be honest, I’m not sure what parts of the film were Brass’ ideas or Guccione’s ideas.

On the whole, Caligula was, to put it bluntly, an overblown failure, both in its artistic merits and as a commercial product. To my mind, this was something that could have been a similar historical masterpiece to Ken Russell’s The Devils, but sadly it got into the hands of a lecherous porn producer, and what you get is a bloated, overstretched film that attempted to offer up a titillating Roman fantasy but instead leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

  • Score: 59%
  • Grade: D

Metalhead (2013)

Films that revolve around subcultures (particularly musical subcultures) tend to be either moderately watchable, or intolerably bad, and the main reason for it is that they end up getting bogged down in a lot of pandering, and often they do so in a way that seems alienating or off-putting to the uninitiated, and downright insulted to the already converted. This film, meanwhile, attempts at a meaningful, thoughtful portrayal of a metalhead, but in the end resorts to stereotypes all the same, and far from being a gripping, heartwarming drama, Metalhead comes across as a banal, pathetic cringe-fest.

The story revolves around a girl named Hera who, when she was eleven years old, had the misfortune of witnessing her older rocker brother Baldur die after falling off of and getting scalped by a tractor. She responded to the tragedy by immediately picking up her brother’s guitar and taking his clothes as her own, and years later, she and her parents still haven’t gotten over the incident. She begins acting out in various ways, like playing loud music wherever she has the given opportunity and generally being rude to everyone. When the priest tries to help her, she interprets it as a romantic relationship and when she realises it isn’t, she burns down a church and goes insane until she comes back, stops being a metalhead for a while until some Norwegian men form a band with her.

That’s pretty much the gist of the plot, and I may well have saved you 97 pointless minutes in divulging it to you. It’s not as if the writers had ill intentions. Grief and alienation make for ideal themes in dramatic works, but it’s just not executed very well, and the main problem is that the film feels like a feature-length tantrum on the part of the main character. The film lurches from being a melodramatic teen angst flick to becoming a preachy “pray the metalhead away” lecture. That to me seems to be the film’s message that being a metalhead is some sort of depressive phase that only teenagers go through, and that you can only be a normal person by getting out of it. I’m not even a metalhead and I think that it’s an utterly deplorable concept.

The main character is perhaps the biggest problem. The writers honestly want me to sympathise with her but I just can’t, and the reason why is because she’s just untenable as a character. She is literally the distorted caricature of a metalhead that parents used to have in their heads back in the 1990’s, complete with all the nasty behaviours that pearl clutchers might have accused metalheads of exhibiting back than, but worse than that, she seems like a character who has completely shackled herself to grief in a manner that isn’t remotely touching because it’s not realistic. It’s not as though the acting is terrible. Her acting is actually quite good, and the rest of the cast didn’t fare too badly either, but again, the whole narrative crumbles quickly.

I should at least commend the film for its visual style. It has a sort of sombre look and feel to it, which belies the shabbiness of the film itself. Of course the film tries to butter you up with all sorts of savoury metal tunes, but it honestly seems like window dressing. Oh, and this a film that ends by somehow managing to make Megadeth sound cringy, by having Hera’s mom do a corny dance to it.

This is one of those films where I have to wonder, how do critics love the film so much? Seriously, it seems like most professional critics do nothing other than give the film a blowjob, possibly because it somehow appeals to their moral sensibilities, but most likely because it’s the kind of banal, meandering melodrama that critics naturally gravitate towards. To me, this film will probably have more appeal with people who know screw all about metal, and I don’t think the sycophantic “critics” that worshipped this film even listened to a single metal song or album before that. I don’t know what planet they were on, or even if they were watching the same movie, but the reality is the Metalhead was a hollow mockery of the subculture that it is purported to cater to.

  • Score: 59%
  • Grade: D

Virgin Witch (1972)

There are some films that you watch, and when you’re done you’ll come to the conclusion that it was nothing special. Given how cinema has essentially become a mass-produced art form, you’ll find that a majority of films are like this, but it really is dependant on your tastes. Personally, I think this a particular problem in horror movies, the quality of which depends ultimately on how edgy and shocking they can be. Like many “occult-themed” horror films, Virgin Witch is neither of them.

The plot revolves around a young model named Christine, who is on the verge of getting her big break when she applies at and is accepted by the modelling agency of Sybil Waites, an older lesbian who has her eyes on her for a peculiar reason. Together with her sister Betty, Christine is invited to an old house in the country for a photo shoot, but Sybil is actually a witch, and she wants to induct her into her coven and is hoping to prepare her for a sacrifice.

Often accurately billed as an exploitation film, it seems like this film in particular was an excuse for the producer to get as many nude scenes with the lead actress as he possibly could. To me, the whole premise of the film seems like it was written by a horny teenage boy. It may as well have been, because those are the only sorts of people who could look past the film’s obvious faults.

What faults am I talking about? For starters, this is one of those slow horror films in which barely anything happens for a while. In fact, there’s barely any actual horror at all. The first half of the film is a boring skin flick seemingly with no plot, and the second half is a mediocre horror flick but it’s slightly better than watching the first film. It seems as if the producers didn’t know what they were doing because they were busy ogling the actresses.

By the way, the acting is pretty dull. The Michelle sisters seemed like a better sort for modelling rather than acting, not that this was a film they care to remember. The other characters aren’t exactly stellar either, but then again, I don’t think anyone had any real enthusiasm for the project. On a side note, am I the only one who thinks that the ritual looked somewhat robotic?

The film isn’t too bad in terms of the way it presents itself. I’d say this was one of those style over substance films, but it wasn’t particularly stylish. In fact, it was boring and banal right down to the bone, but the film itself wasn’t offensively bad. In fact, it might have been quite decent were it not burdened with the misfortune of bad writing, listless acting and lazy producers. It was basically a cheap film with the plot of an even cheaper pulp book. It’s not a very remarkable film even if you stretched the definition of remarkable as wildly as you possibly could.

  • Score: 47%
  • Grade: D

The Hunters of the Golden Cobra (1982)

golden cobraSteven Spielberg’s classic Raiders of the Lost Ark has seen its fair share of imitators and blatant knock-offs, certainly during the early 80’s when it was fresh. In this case, we have an Italian-made knock-off that plays out like a made-for-TV film. It’s essentially a low-budget knock-off of Indiana Jones, but with only tiny fraction of the charm. It’s pretty silly on the whole, and to be completely honest, it’s not that great of a matinee film, considering how much it looks like a cheaply made carbon copy.

The film’s story, which is set in 1944, involves two textbook action heroes, an typically rugged American solider named Bob Jackson, and a stereotypically British intelligence agent David Franks. Together they’re on a mission in the Philippines to track down an ancient relic called the Golden Cobra, teaming up with a woman searching for her missing sister.

Honestly, there’s not much to say about the story, but it’s a bit jumbled and gets off to a frenetic and silly start. It’s mildly entertaining for a while, but then get into a lot of weird nonsense that seems like it was jammed into the film in order to distinguish it from Indiana Jones, which ultimately fails because the film is so much like Indiana Jones and so cliché-ridden that it’s downright comical. Even the climactic final showdown is rendered impotent by poor choreography.

The characters are pretty much plain stock characters, but they have their quirky moments. Indeed, the British character was so ridiculous that he’s actually moderately funny. However the film is ruined by some terribly bad acting. A lot of the characters come across as remarkably hammy, like they got people who don’t do much acting, and only did one take. It also sounds like they dubbed the voices over the movie. I assume this to be the case, given that the film was originally released in Italy and eventually got an English language release a few years later. I also noticed that there are a number of background characters that look like they don’t really belong in the film, like a sailor who looks a bit like John Candy.

I have to assume the film must have had a low budget, because the film looks cheaply made. I’m not sure, but I think there might have been a few cardboard props. Unique to this film, however, is that sometimes you’ll see a few scenes that are kind of like spaghetti Western scenes (specifically, these are gunplay scenes), just a lot cheesier. Everything in the film is the cheesier version of Indiana Jones, like taking a loving tribute to old school B-movie and turning it into an actual C-movie.

I’m not entirely sure if this film could have been much better, considering it’s basically a knock-off. In other words, this film was clearly pointless. I sometimes wonder why I subject my eyes and ears to films like these, perhaps so you don’t have to. Either way, if only I were paid to this.

  • Score: 48%
  • Grade: D

Weird Science (1985)

movie_poster_for_weird_science_1985Weird Science was very much a film that was emblematic of the bizarre excesses of Hollywood in the 1980’s. It’s ridiculous, it’s loaded with kitsch, and the story seems to be over the place. Sometimes that can make a film so goofy that it’s downright irresistible, but that’s not the case here in Weird Science, which simply hasn’t aged that well compared to other films from the mid-80’s.

The plot is essentially a typical teen comedy, revolving around two awkward teenagers named Gary and Wyatt, who have no luck with women, but they’re swooning over the girlfriends of two boorish Neanderthals who consistently humiliate them. Disappointed with their lot in life, they use Wyatt’s computer to create their ideal woman, who is brought to life after a lightning strike. The woman, who comes to be known as Lisa, begins to teach the boys self-confidence, but not without a slew of zany shenanigans ensuing along the way.

It’s not too much like John Hughes’ other films (which I tend to be sharply critical of), but like the rest, the film revels in Hughes’ consistent romanticising of the dreaded teen phase. As if teen films weren’t already unbelievable, this film pretty much demands suspension of disbelief, as much of the plot raises several questions that I’m sure none of the writers will have any answer for aside from “it’s just a stupid movie”. Nothing about it makes sense, but I’m quite sure that it’s not supposed to. At least this film had the good fortune of being made in a time where you could get away with it.

The acting certainly doesn’t help the cause by much. The actors aren’t particularly bad, but they aren’t exactly high-calibre performers either. They’re essentially actors stuck in a brainless genre that limits their potential. I should give some kudos to the film for using actual teenage actors in the lead roles, unlike the majority of teen films which use actors in their early 20’s, or older for all I know. The characters themselves aren’t particularly likable, and Lisa is perhaps the least convincing character by her very nature as an artificial woman.

If the film has any redeeming virtues, it’s that it at least had good production, as John Hughes films generally did for their time. The film also made wildly liberal use of special effects, and they become more common towards the end of the film as the more nonsensical scenes play out. Of course, the film isn’t bereft of humour, which is fortunate for a film that’s supposed to be billed as a comedy film. It’s not as funny as it perhaps ought to have been, but there are parts of the film that are rib-ticklingly funny, but those are few and far between.

In conclusion, this is a film that very much belongs in its time. I remember hearing that there was a remake in the works, but nobody would really want it. It just wouldn’t work in my time, not just because it’s too cheesy, but also because Hollywood doesn’t know how to write comedies anymore. I dare say that a modern Weird Science would turn out to be even more juvenile than the film we got, and more reprehensibly irritating as a result. This film, thankfully isn’t that bad, but it’s age shows in too many ways.

  • Score: 58%
  • Grade: D

Inception (2010)

inception_2010_theatrical_posterGiven Christopher Nolan’s solid treatment of The Dark Knight, one might think that his artistic intent could translate into something bold and original. That certainly seems to have been the intention behind Inception, and the mainstream critics ate up the hype even as they were building it up. Of course, I’m always sceptical of films that got a lot of hype. Even when I was 16 and Inception was new, I got the feeling that they were overselling it, and watching the film again I felt I was right. Overhyped, overrated, and astoundingly pretentious, Inception is a textbook example of a film that got a lot of hype when it was new, did well in the box office, but when the hype was over nobody cared, probably because Inception wasn’t very good in the first place.

The story is perhaps the most immediate gripe I have with the film, but before I go into why, I’ll try and explain it. The premise revolves around a Dominick Cobb, a professional thief who steals people’s information by infiltrating their dreams (the film tries to explain it, but does a poor job of it). His job involves projecting himself into people’s minds, and by doing so, he can obtain information that even the most skilled computer hackers can’t. When Cobb fails an assignment, he is offered the chance to have his criminal history erased as payment for a task that seems impossible – planting a new idea into a target’s mind. Cobb and his crew have everything they need to carry out the task, but the only thing complicating matters is a projection of Cobb’s dead wife, emerging from his subconscious.

That’s about a simple as I can describe a plot as insanely muddled as Inception’s plot is. I remembering hearing that the film’s plot is so complicated that you can’t even take a bathroom break if you want to understand what’s going on. I’m sure that sounds exaggerated, but the film certainly has an extremely complicated plot. It’s the kind of film that tries to sound intelligent, but just because the premise of a film is ludicrously complicated doesn’t make a film intelligent. In fact, much of the film’s 148-minute length is spent explaining the film. I would argue that any film that has to spend much of its runtime explaining itself is hardly intelligent. To be fair, I think the film could have implemented its ideas well had Christopher Nolan stuck with his plan to make it as a horror film about dream thieves. The film’s cerebral ideas find themselves wasted in a heist film, and a very pretentious one too.

Believe it or not, the film’s ensemble cast isn’t that effective. The performances weren’t bad, but I wasn’t very impressed, mainly because I see it as typical Hollywood overacting. Leonardo diCaprio is perhaps the most obvious example. Throughout his career diCaprio has depended his looks for success, and I’m pretty sure the same applies here because diCaprio isn’t a very convincing actor. Maybe I’m just too much of a demanding viewer, or more likely, I simply don’t like him, but whatever the reason, I can’t find myself getting invested in his character, and maybe that’s because his character was never really likeable in the first place.

Of course, the film did have incredibly high production values on its side, and with its massive $160 million budget that’s understandable, but I find that the film looks and sounds inescapably hollow. Perhaps the only part of the film most people got (and the most heavily promoted scene) was the scene where part of a road folds. It is a rather impressive display of CGI, but the problem is that most of the film feels inorganic, perhaps because the film is loaded with CGI. Even some of the fight scenes were done with CGI. It almost feels like a glossier version of The Matrix, but loaded with explanations that make no sense no matter how hard Leonardo diCaprio tries to convince you of it.

Though not a completely terrible film, Inception is what happens when film directors get too full of themselves. They lose grasp of what makes sense on screen and the resulting film is very big, bloated and pompous. Of course, the more popular a director becomes, the more mainstream that director’s work becomes, and clearly Inception was Nolan’s attempt at a boldly avant-garde thriller film, but it winds up being such a painfully mainstream Hollywood film that its a mirror image of the very character of Hollywood, with its head stuck firmly up in the clouds.

  • Score: 56%
  • Grade: D

The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)

sword_and_the_sorcererposterA lot of American fantasy films back in the 1980’s essentially boiled down to Conan the Barbarian clones, and sadly this film was no exception. As implied by its very title, The Sword and the Sorcerer is basically a by-the-numbers sword-and-sorcery fantasy film, with all the tropes that one might expect, and there isn’t a lot that makes up for it either, save for one rather mediocre gimmick. It wouldn’t have been too bad as a made-for-TV movie, and might have actually been better as a TV show, but as a feature film, it is very underwhelming.

The story of this film sees the fictional, prosperous kingdom of Ehdan being taken over by the brutal despot Titus Cromwell, who uses the power of the sorcerer Xusia of Delos to take over the kingdom with little opposition. Years later, a young mercenary named Talos, who wields a three-bladed sword that can fire off its extra blades with the push of a button, discovers that he was a prince of Ehdan, and takes on a quest to help the princess Alana rescue her brother Mikah and restore the kingdom, and exchange he will have one night in bed with her.

It is pretty much typical a fantasy yarn, but if there’s anything good about it, it would be the fact that it’s only 99 minutes long, and that’s not saying much, considering the film’s meandering pace. The story is boring, but it’s not tastelessly bad. It’s the kind of writing I would probably expect from a TV show, which is a shame because I haven’t seen many TV shows like it. Not even the few interesting twists (and believe me, there are) can save a mediocre plot from the clutches of its own mediocrity. Also, the three-bladed sword literally across as a pointless gimmick. I’m a connoisseur of fantasy, and even I can’t suspend my disbelief for this, and if a sword that fires extra blades like missiles doesn’t convince a fantasy nut, you know you’ve failed.

The characters aren’t too convincing either. The hero of the story comes across as the producers’ attempt at creating a knock-off Han Solo and failing. Given that the man playing him, Lee Horsley, had plenty of experience as a TV actor, his character might have worked better on TV than on film. I can say the same thing for the other characters, who seem to have been written rather lazily as clichéd stock characters. The acting is fairly decent, but it’s the at least they’re trying kind of acting, and it’s not that hard to tell in this film.

The special effects aren’t too bad, but they aren’t exactly stellar either. The film looks and sounds like a made-for-TV production, just with a bigger budget than most. The music sounds rather generic, but then, the action scenes have the same quality, with an added air of ridiculousness. How am I meant to believe that the hero, after being crucified, can muster up the strength to free himself without causing unbearable pain to himself? All in all, while not a terrible disaster of a film, it certainly wasn’t very good either, and it seems more like a disservice to a genre already stuffed with cheap genre films.

  • Score: 58%
  • Grade: D