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DVD Review

DVD cover

Rise of the Shadow Warrior


Starring: Danielle Chuchran, Richard McWilliams and Paul D. Hunt
Distributor: Signature Entertainment
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 29 July 2013

An elven huntress has been left orphaned by an attack on her people by Orcs. What she doesn’t know is that it was in retalliation for an unprovoked raid on Orc peoples searching for food. Now she has become a dangerous bounty hunter, but when she kills an Orc shaman, his parting curse is to leave her with the mark of the Shadow. The Shadow is an evil cult uprising dedicated to the return of the gods, and in particular the ritualistic summoning of the demon god of death. Now it’s a matter of controlling her will as the darkness seeks to overcome her. An uneasy alliance forms between a holy soldier, an Orc seeking to regain control of his hoarde, and the elf, as they attempt to capture the vessel required for the ceremony. If they fail it could mean the end of everything...

My expectations for this one were quite low. A sword and sorcery fantasy following in the wake of The Hobbit. However, right from the off I found myself compelled to watch with interest. The female elf very much looked the part, her pointed ears, blonde hair and startlingly blue eyes somehow enhancing both her beauty and danger. One of the hurdles at which to stumble might have been the sword fights and battle scenes, but I have to say that they are very professionally choreographed and the most convincing I have seen in some time. Likewise, the make-up is phenomenal for the Orcs and other creatures. The effects are low-key and kept to a minimum, and the movie is all the better for it – although there are a few impressive surprises. Even the sky in the scenic establishing scenes, which glows yellow at one time of the day and pink at another, is done with just enough intensity to remind you this is an alien landscape and accepted boundaries don’t apply.

Okay, so it’s not The Lord of the Rings, but why does it have to be? I recently visited a plush cinema in central London to see Pacific Rim, because I am a huge fan of Del Toro’s work. It is the biggest load of tosh I have seen in quite some time. Yes, a fortune has obviously been spent on special effects, but the dialogue is cliched and the characters are Joe Soap nobodies. In short, it has no heart. Rise of a Shadow Warrior is different. The characters are diverse and well-defined. They have depth and quirks and mannerisms of their own. These are people you care about. The female elf is selfish, vengeful, but essentially good, which she proves when fighting the darkness within. The human cleric soldier is no-nonsense, and follows the wishes of his goddess without question, until he learns to feel for his purpose and the people around him. The Orc travelling with them has a dark sense of humour and, arguably, has the most likeable traits. Even the nasty cyberpunk dwarf with his invented projectile weapons is a fascinating and well-rounded extra.

The plot is pretty straightforward, but sometimes that simplifies matters enough to allow the players to come to the fore and shine. I found this film a breath of fresh air. The battle scenes are superb, the quest thrilling, the central trio of goodies utterly convincing. I found myself saddened it was all over. But where are the extras? I would have lapped them up.


Ty Power

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