December 21, 2014

Creek of the Week: Fair Play (1972)

Directed by James A. Sullivan. Starring Paul Ford ("F.O. McGill"), Robert Middleton ("Jova Purvis"), Terry Wilson ("Utah Brazos"), and Paul Glaser ("Skinner Bindleshaft"). Not Rated.

Source: Region 0 DVD (Mill Creek)
Running time: 01:23:12
Country: USA
Availability: Swingin' Seventies 50-Pack, Timeless Family Classics 50-Pack, Family Favorites 100-Pack, Awesomely Cheesy Movies 100-Pack

A character-driven Comedy-Western set in Fair Play, Texas. A young city-slicker named Teddy travels to Fair Play to connect with his estranged uncle, who he believes runs a health spa. Teddy's expectations of a small flourishing town with opportunities galore are shattered once he realizes it's a shit-hole, one-horse town and his uncle, F.O. McGill, actually runs a saloon frequented by outlaws. The saloon also doubles as a hotel but there are never any customers due to the fact that no one ever comes through. Long story short, Teddy meets a number of quirky characters, falls in love with the only gal in town, and finds himself in the middle of a feud involving his uncle and a rival family.

As far as the characters, there's a drunken sombrero-wearing Mexican (with dual bullet belts wrapped around his torso of course), a black guy who specializes in shooting people, and a half-"Indian" half-Hungarian fellow who claims either side depending on the situation and constantly reminds everyone of his mixed ethnicity. It should also be said that FAIR PLAY is kinda racist by today's politically-correct standards in terms of how the minority characters are portrayed, but hey - it is what it is. And then there's Teddy's love interest, the adorable Pearlie Purvis (one of the few memorable character names in the movie), who finally breaks up the sausage party after thirty-five minutes of racial stereotypes and comedic male posturing. She's like a beautiful rainbow that ends on a field of cow patties and the actress who plays her, Barbara Hancock, at times, looks like a young, thinner version of Ann-Margret.


As with most traditional Westerns, this one has an obligatory action sequence in the form of a big shootout, which - like everything else in the movie - is comedic in nature. Highlights of the shootout include someone inexplicably crotch-thrusting someone to the point of retreating and another character attempting the ol' "hat-on-a-stick trick" in an attempt to confuse the opposition.


Other than everything I mentioned, there's not much to say about this. The characters are fine but not interesting enough to carry an entire film, and for a comedy FAIR PLAY isn't all that funny. The characters would lend themselves well to a television series where they could be fleshed out, but, for an 80-minute movie, not so much. There's definitely some charm to be found here, but in the end it felt like a throwaway Western-Comedy.

The Good: The chemistry of the actors.
Barbara Hancock is cute.
The Bad: Weak plot, lazy writing.
Also, the plot thread involving Teddy and Pearlie falls to the wayside almost as quickly as it gets started - at least in this version anyway. Not sure if there's a longer cut of this out there, nor do I care.
The Fugly: There are a few occasions where it seems like some of the actors flubbed their lines, which should give you an idea of the type of quality we're dealing with here.
And of course the racial stereotypes, which might have been funny but not so much now. If done well, I'm down with tasteless, politically-incorrect comedy, but it's just annoying and stupid here.


Drinking Game:
Drink every time someone says "Bindleshaft".
Take a shot every time the half-breed mentions his Hungarian ancestry.
The Verdict: I can think of worse ways to spend 80 minutes (I'm sure I'll be writing about some of them in the future!), but yeah, skip this one.




December 18, 2014

The Lickerish Quartet (1970)

Directed by Radley Metzger. Starring Silvana Venturelli ("The visitor"), Frank Wolff ("Castle owner"), Erika Remberg ("His wife"), and Paolo Turco ("Her son"). Rated X.

Source: Streaming on The Movie and Music Network
Running time: 01:27:46
Country: Italy, USA, West Germany

When THE LICKERISH QUARTET opens, a wealthy family of three is sitting around watching a silent porno film on a projector. There's some bickering amongst the family and in the process we get some meta commentary on the ability to manipulate film. The patriarch seems to be the only one who's stoked on this unusual family activity. His wife appears somewhat interested but distracted. Her son is somewhat offended, which is understandable; I couldn't imagine watching a porno with my family and not feel awkward about it.


The family movie night didn't quite work out, so they decide to travel into town and check out the circus. It's there that they spot a brunette doppelganger of a blonde actress in the porno movie they just watched. The father gets the bright idea to invite the attractive woman back to their house with the intention of watching the skin flick with her and possibly engaging in further activities depending on where the night takes them. Fortunately for them (well, mainly just the perverted patriarch), she agrees. As the night goes on, the patriarch and his wife keep insisting that the nameless brunette is the star of the stag film they've been obsessing over, but she constantly denies it. It's eventually suggested that perhaps they were mistaken in assuming she's the same woman in the movie, but, as they come to this understanding, the mysterious guest undergoes a transformation - both visual and somewhat symbolic. Appropriately, the film takes a strange turn at this point, in which we get more self-referential moments, occasional cracks in the fourth wall, and beautifully shot scenes of erotica that would make Jess Franco jealous.


"The visitor" goes on to have sexual flings with all three members of the family and essentially becomes what they individually fantasize about or seek in a sexual partner. They also come to realizations about themselves and their relationships to each other in the process.

THE LICKERISH QUARTET is probably not something you wanna watch while sleepy. There are moments where not a whole lot happens and the plot doesn't move along, but those moments might not be an issue if you have an appreciation for art films. For example, there's a scene where the four characters are sitting in complete silence and watching the porno film. This scene goes on for a few minutes, and there's something beautiful and tense and obviously erotic about it as the characters don't say a word and give each other sideways glances while the camera focuses on each person. However some people might be bored to tears by this particular scene, and the same can be said for a good chunk of the film's running time.


The castle and mountainous area where THE LICKERISH QUARTET was shot are absolutely stunning. The setting is one of the highlights of the film along with the amazing score by Stelvio Cipriani. The theme song that plays during the opening credits and occasionally throughout sounds like something that would be right at home in a Giallo or even a bleak Eurocrime movie. The story and some of the more symbolic and metaphoric elements of the film might go over a lot of heads. Even I had an idea of what it was going for but couldn't completely grasp the message - if there even was one. It does feel a tad pretentious and purposely inaccessible at times, which comes with the territory when you're dealing with art films, but it's such a gorgeous movie that I found myself mesmerized by it more often than not. This is my first Radley Metzger film but I do plan on watching more of his work when I get a chance because of how much I dug this one. Yeah, so if you're into sexy art-house movies, definitely give this one a look. And remember, you can watch it right now, this very second, at the links below.

Score: 7.5

Links:
The Movie and Music Network
Cult Epics Channel
The Erotica Channel
The Death Rattle's Review Channel



December 17, 2014

Press Release: The 99-Cent Network

The great folks over at Movie and Music Network have launched yet another online platform for all you movie geeks to acquire films from - and all for a very low price as if it wasn't obvious enough by the name of the site! Continue reading for further details and give them a shot if you're interested.

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December 15, 2014

Creek of the Week: Fighting Mad (Death Force) (1978)

Directed by Cirio H. Santiago. Starring James Iglehart ("Doug Russell"), Carmen Argenziano ("Morelli"), Leon Isaac Kennedy ("McGee"), and Jayne Kennedy ("Maria Russell"). Rated R.

Source: Region 0 DVD (Mill Creek)
Running time: 01:29:51
Country: USA, Philippines
Availability: Martial Arts 50-Pack, Drive-In Cult Classics 200-Pack, Martial Arts 100-Pack

It's been an ongoing battle for years between myself and Mill Creek box sets. This is yet another attempt of mine to watch a bunch of these movies. Of the six or seven 50-packs I have, I'll be picking a movie at random each week and reviewing it. I think I can handle one a week. I think. Anyone wanna start taking bets on how many weeks this will last?

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The first random pick for Mill Creek Mondays is FIGHTING MAD. I didn't know what it was when I chose it, but upon further investigation I recognized the name Leon Isaac Kennedy from the PENITENTIARY films and I also recognized the poster for its alternate title DEATH FORCE, which features a black dude with an Afro wielding a samurai sword. Fortunately the film actually delivers a black dude with an Afro wielding a samurai sword.

The film is a revenge tale that revolves around a Vietnam vet tracking down the two friends and fellow veterans who betrayed him and left him for dead. Initially the three of them turned to a life of crime after being discharged. They set their goals high and it was decided amongst two of them that Doug was the odd man out, so they slit his throat and threw him off a boat. Unbeknownst to the other two - Morelli and McGee - two stranded Japanese soldiers found Doug still alive after he washed ashore and nursed him back to health. Not only that, but they trained him in the way of the samurai, naturally.

While Doug is training on some random island and becoming a bad-ass with a samurai sword, Morelli and McGee are quickly trying to establish themselves in the crime world with aspirations of being a two-headed Tony Montana. They kill a lot of people and piss off even more in the process. For whatever reason, the two of them dress up in pin-striped suits at one point and blast a bunch of dudes playing cards with Tommy guns as if it were the 1920s. It's probably a comment on how delusional these two are.


FIGHTING MAD hits all the right beats it needs to right off the bat to set up quite the revenge story, especially when you consider that the protagonist is shaping up to be the original Afro Samurai. There are essentially three different plot threads during the first half of the movie: the criminals making moves, the protagonist recovering and training on the island, and Doug's widow (or at least she thinks she's a widow) mourning the loss of her husband and struggling to find work as a lounge singer. In the meantime, one of the men who double-crossed Doug, McGee (Leon Isaac Kennedy), is aggressively putting the moves on his vulnerable wife, which adds more fuel to the fire. As far as how the second half plays out, it kinda goes without saying if you've seen more than one revenge movie.


This ended up being a fun flick. Everything about it just reeks of Exploitation cinema. It's like three separate movies that eventually collide to form a genre mash-up (Crime, Martial Arts, Revenge, Romance), plus the whole 70s vibe just seals the deal. If this were made today, it would either be trying too hard or it would be a BLACK DYNAMITE style spoof.


Mill Creek box sets (which are collection of poor-quality public domain movies) are known for having cut and edited versions of films due to rights issues that I know nothing about, and it's possible that this might be one of them, but I don't know if it's actually the case or not. It feels like there are scenes missing. Perhaps the story moves at such a fast pace that it only feels like it's jumping ahead and leaving gaps in the story. For example, at one point late in the movie, Doug is talking the cops out on the street and then it cuts to him getting a haircut and talking about baseball. But then again, maybe it's just a sloppily edited film in the first place.

There's not a whole lot more to say about this one. At its core it's your standard revenge movie, but it ultimately stands out because there's so much entertaining shit going on. It works on almost every level. The bad guys are scum; the good guy has a sweet Afro and wears bell-bottoms and kills people with a samurai sword; the love interest (Doug's wife) is beautiful. Speaking of the love interest, a lot of the film's promotional material touts her as being a Playboy model. The magazine is obvious synonymous with nudity, so it would lead one to believe that she sheds her clothes in this. For whatever it's worth, it's not the case. But then again, this could be one of the ol' Mill Creek cut versions. Regardless, Jayne Kennedy looks amazing, especially when she's wearing knee-high tube socks. As far as the fight scenes, they're not that great in terms of choreography, but some of the violence and gore makes up for it. There are quite a few decapitations and a lot of people get shot in this.On a side note, Jayne Kennedy, in real life, was married to Leon Isaac Kennedy when this was produced. Not only that, but they were also part of one of the first (if not the first) ever sex tape scandals.


In the spirit of my failed Mill Creek-specific podcast, the Mill Creeps, I'll be utilizing the old GBF rating system instead of my usual scoring.

The Good: Definitely the 70s look and style. This just wouldn't be the same without Afros and bell bottoms.
The Bad: There's a lot of action in this but no real set-pieces per se. Some dangerous car chases and people being thrown from buildings would've elevated this, but hey, I assume they didn't have the budget for that so whatevs.
The Fugly: This has some of the worst squib effects I've ever seen. It looks like the actors are getting shot with paintballs.

The Verdict:



December 14, 2014

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. Starring Addison Timlin ("Jami"), Veronica Cartwright ("Lillian"), Anthony Anderson ("Lone Wolf Morales"), and Travis Tope ("Nick"). Rated R.

Source: iTunes - HD
Running time: 01:26:03
Country: USA

Hold up, don't go calling this a remake just yet. This is sort of a meta sequel that acknowledges Charles B. Pierce's original film. This particular movie is set once again in Texarkana but in October of 2013, and, like the original, it opens with narration, except this time discussing the Phantom Killer and the legacy of Pierce's 1976 film.

Following the opening bit, we're introduced to a handful of characters at a local drive-in during one of the town's annual screenings of the original TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (much to the dismay of the town's conservative citizens). A young couple leaves the drive-in and stops at a lover's lane type of spot in the woods; life goes on to imitate art when a masked man bearing an identical resemblance to the Phantom Killer attacks and humiliates them, with the glaring difference being the fact that the masked man actually speaks - something the original Phantom Killer never did. The masked assailant kills the boyfriend and mentions something about "Mary" before disappearing back into the shadows, setting up the female victim, Jami, as the Final Girl for reasons that come into play as the story unfolds.


So in the opening ten minutes it's established that this is a self-referential sequel that revolves around a copycat killer whose motives seem to be revenge based. But then the lines gradually start to get blurred when there are elements that suggest it's trying to be a remake as well. It reminded me of THE THING (2011) in that respect, in that it's technically a sequel (or in the case of THE THING a prequel) but yet it plays out like a remake. For example, this has a similar character to the Texas Ranger from the original (played by an unconvincing Anthony Anderson) and there's even a guy in the police department nicknamed "Sparkplug", which was the name of Charles B. Pierce's character in the original. Not to mention the fact that a few of the Phantom Killer's attacks are identical to the original, including an updated, gorier version of the trombone scene. Yeah, I get that the killer is a copycat, but does everyone else in the film realize that they too are copycats?


At times, this is almost like a love letter to the original 1976 TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN. Surprisingly, this also reminded me of a Giallo - more so than your traditional American slasher. For one, it's very stylish and colorful, and it also features some brutal violence and graphic sexual content against the backdrop of a mystery story. But then you also have the fact that two of the lead characters (the female survivor of the initial attack and a friend of hers) are spearheading their own investigation while the cops - for the most part - are seemingly just twiddling their thumbs and waiting for a dead body to fall in their laps. And finally there's the potential unmasking of the killer, which is what the film hints at setting up. All that said, while under the slasher umbrella, this is more of a mystery film than a body-count flick, although the kills (as sporadic as they may be) are definitely highlights.


This is a fun horror movie that moves along at a good pace. My only real complaint is what I mentioned earlier about it being a sometimes-sequel and sometimes-remake. Other than that, it's a neat little updated, hyperstylized version of the original, presenting the hooded Phantom Killer as sort of a manifestation of the memories and tragedies that have haunted Texarkana for decades, with some SCREAM-esque twists and a meta approach to the storytelling. And to those who like their slashers full of the "good stuff", keep in mind that this one definitely earns its R-rating.

Score: 6.5

December 13, 2014

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

Directed by Charles B. Pierce. Starring Ben Johnson ("Captain J.D. Morales"), Andrew Prine ("Deputy Norman Ramsey"), Dawn Wells ("Helen Reed"), and Jimmy Clem ("Sgt. Mal Griffin"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Scream Factory)
Running time: 01:29:49
Country: USA

Set in Texarkana in 1946, THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN is loosely based on the Moonlight Murders, which occurred in Texarkana during a ten-week span by someone known as the "Phantom Killer", who, to this day, has never been caught or ID'd.

The film kicks into gear with a narrator explaining the circumstances surrounding the economic and social state of post-WW2 Texarkana. Suddenly the image of this peaceful community is shattered when an aggressive masked man emerges from the darkness and brutally attacks a young couple on lover's lane; they both survive but the masked man caused some serious damage. Later at the hospital, the masked man is established as a biter when teeth marks are found on the female victim's breasts and body, which makes the now open case all the more disturbing. And just like the real-life Moonlight Murders, the masked man would go on to sporadically kill people and shake up the community in the process. Citizens are suddenly arming themselves to the teeth, and it's safe to assume that this quiet town never expected anything this violent to occur, which is why a bad-ass Texas Ranger was brought in to take charge of the investigation. The Ranger, Captain Morales (played by legit tough-guy Ben Johnson) is based on "Lone Wolf"Gonzaullas.


The Phantom Killer (played here by legendary stuntman Bud Davis) is similar to the more well-known Zodiac Killer. The Phantom, seemingly, isn't as methodical or calculated in his crimes as the Zodiac was, but the Phantom targets young couples and wears a similar type of hood that obscured his identity and creates a frightening appearance. Also, despite the diligent efforts of law enforcement, neither of the killers were properly identified or caught.


The film goes back and forth between the police procedural element and the long, drawn-out scenes of the Phantom assaulting and killing his victims. The focus on the killer allows for some disturbing and tense sequences. One of the things that makes the portrayal of the Phantom Killer here effective is that he's not exactly swift in how he eliminates the Texarkana residents. He's very much a regular guy who essentially fights his victims as much as they fight back and struggle. While we don't know for sure, we could assume that he never came out of his crimes unscathed himself, which could be the reason why the real Phantom Killer waited three weeks between crimes. The unstoppable slasher movie killers or Horror lore have a tendency to be scary, but it theoretically hits a little closer to home when you're watching a regular dude commit the crimes - especially so when you don't know what his motivations are.

And then of course there's the mask, which is just a simple, homemade hood derived from a sack or some sort of pillow case with eye holes cut out. I can't imagine the mask being easy to breathe in, so it's almost like the killer is suffocating himself during the crimes like some sort of masochist who wants to suffer with his victims. Speaking of suffering, one of the attacks involves a trombone with a knife attached to the end - the Phantom using it like a musical bayonet to fatally wound a woman tied to a tree. It's easily one of the more memorable death scenes that I've ever seen.


The darkness of the film is contrasted by the comedy of some of the police scenes thanks to a bumbling cop played by director Charles B. Pierce himself, as well as some of the cops dressing up in drag in attempt to lure out the killer.


It's also worth noting that the Texarkana Deputy is played by character actor Andrew Prine, who appeared in some cool stuff back in the day - my favorite being his portrayal of the lead character in the psychedelic SIMON: KING OF THE WITCHES. He also appeared in an episode of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER and played a deranged Norman Bates-type in BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD. Another noteworthy bit of casting is Dawn Wells (Mary Ann from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND) as one of the victims.


The style of the film is also quite impressive, which is even more evident thanks to a terrific new release from the folks at Scream Factory who did a great job with its updated presentation. It's not a flashy film by any means, but a lot of the night-time scenes (most of which involve the killer) are beautifully shot and lit in a way that looks cool without coming across as something with tons of artificial illumination. In other words, it looks natural but yet visually impressive. The Phantom Killer is also typically shot from a low angle, visually representing his dominance. There are also a lot of ground-level shots of the killer's feet, which may or may not have been one of the few things that FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 borrowed from this. Aside from the things I just mentioned, there are even some Peckinpah-esque slow motion shots that aren't really needed but are used to great effect during the climax.


TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN isn't the most well-paced movie (it feels longer than its 89-minute running time), but it's a great proto-slasher (of sorts) that succeeds in most areas where it matters. The cops are very likable and easy to get behind. On the other hand, the killer is intriguing and interesting to watch because of how unusual he is. This is a solid, stylish, well-acted Crime-Thriller/Horror movie that stands the test of time for the most part.

Score: 7.5


Ironclad: Battle for Blood (2014)

Directed by Jonathan English. Starring Michelle Fairley ("Joan De Vesci"), Roxanne McKee ("Blanche"), Tom Austen ("Guy the Squire"), and Danny Webb ("Mr. Smith"). Not Rated.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Xlrator/Arc Entertainment)
Running time: 01:47:58
Country: UK, Serbia

This sequel occurs during the aftermath of the first movie (the year 1221 to be specific), which saw the downfall of the dastardly King John. This time, the survivors of the Rochester siege go head-to-head with an invading Scottish clan.


Just like the first movie, the protagonists in BATTLE FOR BLOOD, for the most part, are a collection of misfits. To battle the blood-thirsty Celtic clan, the Rochester crew (the de Vescis) assemble a group who can help them protect the castle. Specifically, the youngest de Vesci is sent out by his father to collect some warriors. His search leads him to his estranged cousin, Guy the Squire, who competes in underground fights and uses his prize money for hookers and beer. An acquaintance of Guy's comes along too - a mysterious, silent type who looks like a vampire. They also rescue a woman named Crazy Mary from execution and even recruit the executioner for good measure.


BATTLE FOR BLOOD sort of follows the same formula as the first IRONCLAD. It's essentially a medieval siege movie with a battle-regroup-repeat structure. But whereas the first one revolved around a power struggle, the feud in this one is more circumstantial - you have a pissed-off clan on one side and you have a group of people defending the honor of their family and home on the other. The characters are interesting on both sides and the film spends quite a bit of time with both the protagonists and antagonists. While this sequel doesn't have the same type of high profile names as its predecessor, the actors here still do a good job. In particular, I quite liked Tom Austen as Guy the Squire. Fans of newer horror might also recognize actress Rosie Day from the excellent THE SEASONING HOUSE and Roxanne McKee from the not-so-excellent (but entertaining) WRONG TURN 5.


Aside from the plot structure, another familiar element is the excessive use of shaky cam. It's like someone with Parkinsons was holding the camera for half the movie.

In comparing this to the first IRONCLAD, this one has some advantages and disadvantages in my opinion. This one feels more self-contained and claustrophobic, which I thought worked well. The family dynamic of the protagonists also added more of an emotional element to the story. The level of violence is about the same in terms of gore but the battle scenes don't feel as grand this time around, which could be attributed to the film having less of a budget behind it. That said, the practical effects are still present and accounted for but there's also a bit of CGI this time around. Overall, I wouldn't call BATTLE FOR BLOOD better than its predecessor (despite my higher score stating otherwise) but I got more enjoyment out of it and liked the simplicity and rawness of it.

Score: 7


December 10, 2014

Ironclad (2011)

Directed by Jonathan English. Starring James Purefoy ("Thomas Marshal"), Brian Cox ("Baron William d'Aubigny"), Kate Mara ("Lady Isabel"), Derek Jacobi ("Baron Reginald de Cornhill"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Arc Entertainment)
Running time: 02:01:06
Country: UK, Switzerland, USA, Germany

The place: England. The year: 1215. The tyrannical King John's reign caused an uprising, which resulted in the common folk turning on him and defeating his army with the help of the Templars. King John (Paul Giamatti) was allowed to continue his reign, but he'd have to change his ways and give more power to the common people, which ended up being the case when he signed the Magna Carta; IRONCLAD is a fictitious version of what happened after he signed it.


King John - pissed-off and embarrassed - teams up with the Dutch captain Tiberius and his army of mercenaries with the intention of getting revenge on the people who were responsible for punking him out. As they carry out the early stages of their plan, many people are humiliated and killed, leaving one surviving Templar knight and a foul-mouthed Baron (Brian Cox) to gather their own army of misfits and lowlifes to take down the King and his men for good. In the meantime, the protagonists have to convince members of the upper class that what they're doing is right; after all, there are still those who respect the ideals and traditions of the monarchy, whether or not the person in rule is a dirtbag or not. This comes into play when the protagonists (well, I guess they're more "anti-heroes" than anything) invade Rochester castle - a strategic move that will allow them to ambush King John's army when they pass through the area.


IRONCLAD builds up to a violent battle that's a pure joy to watch if you're a fan of extreme, over-the-top violence in Action movies. Dismemberment, stabbings, smashed skulls, so on and so forth. It should be said that most (if not all) of the gore effects are achieved practically rather than CGI. However the excessive use of shaky cam during the action sequences might be an issue with some viewers.


There's not a lot to talk about in terms of the plot. Most of the film is a series of bloody battles with waiting periods in between the clashes that consist of famine, harsh weather conditions, cabin fever, madness, and internal fighting. The characters are fairly stereotypical when it comes to a movie like this. There's the slimy antagonist who seemingly goes out of his way to be as hated as possible; the jolly fat guy who screams a lot during battle; the temperamental whore-mongering lone wolf; the calm and collected lead protagonist; the virginal love interest (Kate Mara); the young apprentice who becomes a man over the course of the film, etc.


While watching IRONCLAD, I couldn't help but feel like I've seen this all before. But the ensemble cast, the pacing, the psychology, and the wild action sequences allowed it to overcome any of its flaws from a storytelling, originality, and historical perspective - at least in my opinion anyway. Paul Giamatti (who apparently filmed his scenes in a week, which is crazy considering he has a lot of screen time) is outstanding as the evil King John, and of course Brian Cox is a joy to watch as usual. One of my main complaints is that it's perhaps one battle sequence too long; towards the end (the last 30-40 minutes), the screaming and clanging of swords becomes white noise and it's easy for ones interest to slip away. Other than that, this is a solid ultraviolent, macho-as-fuck medieval Action flick.

Score: 6.5