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DVD Review

DVD cover

Heavenly Sword


Starring (voice): Alfred Molina, Anna Torv and Thomas Jane
Distributor: TriCoast UK
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 15 June 2015

Films where the genesis lay in computer games have never had a great success. For every LEGO movie there was a Super Mario Brothers, but undeterred someone thought it would be a good idea to have another punt.

Heavenly Sword (2014. 1 hr, 23 min, 10 sec) is an animated film based on a successful PS3 console game, of the same name. The film was directed by Gun Ho Jang, from a Todd Farmer script. The film was nominated for a BTVA Special/DVD Voice Acting Award for the two leads, Anna Torv and Alfred Molina.

The film follows Nariko (Torv), daughter of the king, although his disinterest in her would make you think otherwise. As a raven haired female she is one of the better fighters in her clan, possibly the best. But as a woman she is restricted from using her gifts. Her father’s attitude towards her stems from a legend that states, when the time of great strife comes, only the son of the king will be able to wield the heavenly sword and save the land against King Bohan (Molina). The problem is that the king has no male heir.

From here it pretty simple to work out the rest of the plot. Bohan attacks, Nariko takes the sword and goes in search of the king's hidden, bastard, son. With Bohan's determination to have the sword for himself, Nariko has to wade through a river of blood to fulfil her mission.

Given that the PS3 game's success was some time ago it may seem an odd time to bring out a full length animated film, but in the extras they explain that various problems delayed the film's production.

What it does not explain is the script. The sword in question grants the wielder great power at the price of slowly stealing their soul. This should be a great chance for character introspection and exploration of the morality of such a weapon, not to speak of Narriko’s father’s predilection for raping local girls in an effort to sire a son.

What the film actually gives you is a string of action sequences which makes you feel like you’re watching a collection of cut scenes, rather than watching a film. Like a lot of films based on computer games, the makers have forgotten that they are making a movie rather than a computer game cut scene.

The animation, whilst good quality, has an issue with consistency. At its best the film creates beautiful vistas and photo realistic characters, but this quality noticeably slips from time to time.

Apart for a trailer and a couple of teasers, the only extra of note is the Making Of (14 min, 27 sec) which has the creators and cast talking about the creation of the film. Part extended advert, it does contain some interesting snippets about the movie.

The best you can say about the film is that it is ok, which is a little like faint praise. As fans of the game they achieved what they set out to make, although it would have been a better film if they had aimed higher.


Charles Packer

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