Granger (Dolph Lundgren) is a retired soldier, now getting by in Vancouver, teaching martial arts to kids. One afternoon a sorceress arrives at his home, pursued by hooded assassins and after he disarms them the sorceress takes him back to the middle ages, where he must fulfill and ancient prophecy by killing an aged seer. There’s also a dragon and lots of trees and shifting allegiances and turncoats and surprisingly shiny teeth.
Uwe Boll here directs the sequel to his Jason Statham-starring (relative) success In The Name Of The King, though there seems to be no great need to have seen the first film to be able to make sense of this one. It becomes immediately apparent that this is a film making the best it can of extremely limited resources, and it repeatedly shows, to the utter detriment of the film. Sets, costumes, actors, special effects, script, size of cast – all are of very poor quality and at times these limitations render the film nigh-on unwatchable.
Films beset by these sorts of problems need something to elevate them, whether it is a key actor who outdoes the material, or a few good gags, or some imaginative photography. Sadly nothing of that type is to be found here. Even with such mediocre material, Lundgren is hopelessly out of his depth, unable to convincingly convey any emotion and the fish out of water / 21st century vernacular clashing with medieval life elements fall consistently flat.
Lines are read with no conviction and conversation after conversation is bogged down with plot or mythology exposition that simultaneously slows the film down and confuses the audience. Lundgren (along with most of the rest of the principals) meanders through scenes, seemingly unsure where to pitch his performance tonally and by the time a character tries to explain to Granger that he must venture into the Black Forest and find the Catalyst, but no-one knows what it is or looks like and no-one has ever gone in and come out alive, you do begin to lose the will to carry on.
None of the actors convince, the script is terribly written and the overall narrative is all but incomprehensible. The direction is, at best, workmanlike, with a few decent shots of beautiful landscapes and sunlight piercing the clouds saving the film from outright opprobrium. It doesn’t seem to know where it is going or what it is saying and it utterly fails to make us care about anyone in the film or anything that happens. Of course this isn’t the first film to struggle to rise above the limitations created by meagre resources, but that remains a weak excuse for this sort of nonsense. Plenty of film-makers have succeeded on less, by virtue of imagination, creativity, craftsmanship and good old fashioned hard work. Considering that IMDb gives the budget as $7,500,000 and bearing in mind that Robert Rodriguez was able to get El Mariachi to the screen for less than $40,000 it is hard to see what Uwe Boll did with all of that money. He obviously does not have much of a reputation for top-drawer film-making, but he should be able to at least craft a guilty pleasure or a knockabout Friday-night-after-the-pub-with-a-kebab DVD. Instead we have this, which is utterly terrible and should be avoided like the plague that it occasionally references.
Extras: There is a pair of commentaries, one by director Uwe Boll and the other by writer Michael Nachoff. They are both informative and give lots of background, but it is hard to care about what they are saying when you don’t care about the film they are discussing. At least at one point you get the novelty of Nachoff taking a call on his phone while recording his commentary. There is also an interview with Nachoff and one with Lundgren that is padded out with clips from the film. Lundgren seems to have enjoyed himself, which is nice. A behind the scenes featurette rounds off a package which is infinitely more entertaining than the film.