So what does one do when completely jet lagged and lacking energy to move further than from the fridge to the couch? In my case, it’s Netflix. This week’s offering, The Four Warriors (2015), was enough to nearly put me out cold. It was also one of the most frustrating medieval films I’ve ever seen.
The Four Warriors was predictable to a fault, filled with the same tired old tropes: the taciturn but capable saracen Kushtar (Hadrian Howard), the gruff, but kindly warrior William (Glenn Speers), the moral, stoic, and brave leader Richard (Christopher Dane), Hamish, the young and brash knight waiting to sweep a lady off her feet, and Alina (Alex Childs), the strong, independent village woman, ready to fight. It was as if they started with a decent budget and then ran out of money and ideas towards the end. It was a continual hour and a half of “almost”moments: it was “almost good”, the special effects were “almost great” and the dialogue was “almost witty/funny”. It just missed the mark so many times that I wanted to hurl things at my screen in frustration.
“I do not believe in superstition.” ~ Richard
“What do you believe in?” ~ Alina
“I believe in us”. ~ Richard
We kick off the tale with four weary Crusaders on their way home with a Saracen prisoner, when they encounter a strange village populated only by women. It appears that some demons have stolen their children. When the village men went after them, they too disappeared. Only one child remains, Dimitri. An old village crone tells them that they have been prophesied as the mythical “Four Warriors” who have come to save them. The Crusaders initially believe that these demons are slavers and agree to stay for a few days to scare them away, thinking that they will back off if they see the women are protected. Alas, that doesn’t work, Dimitri is kidnapped by the demons, who look more like budget ring wraiths. Richard, decides to set off and find Dimitri. Hamish and Alina throw their hat in the ring, as does the saracen Kushtar, since William is suddenly taken ill. They reluctantly free the Kushtar, who was (but of course!) not a common soldier, but a high-ranking officer who will help them to atone for his shame. But wait, that’s not the end of cliché city – it gets better….
Along the way, they encounter the wizard Baliphar, played by Kristian Nairn of Hodor, Game of Thrones fame. After seeing his acting abilities in all their glory, I realised why they gave him the part of Hodor; the less coming out of his mouth, the better. He’s a bad attempt at Radagast the Brown meets Tom Bombadil. Baliphar tells our heroes that they are not the Four Warriors. The real four warriors are a set of magical, evil stones, set in a black crown. So here we have it folks, right out of a Dungeons and Dragons module, a wizard, evil stones, a rag tag bunch of heroes and a quest. Of course, our heroes save the day and everything wraps up neatly, but boy did they make it painful to get to that ending. I’ve seen after school specials that had better acting.
This is another movie with an identity crisis, it wants to be a horror and it wants to be a fantasy, and it really wants to be The 13th Warrior, meets Lord of the Rings, but fails miserably on all fronts. B-list actors, budget special effects, dry, clunky dialogue, chuck in some slo-mo fight scenes and two half-baked love stories and what you’re left with is a a craptacular movie, but not in a funny or cool way.
The worst parts of it weren’t even the bad costumes and cheesy demons, it was the dialogue that killed it for me. I can keep an open mind, even with low budget films so long as what’s coming out of the actor’s mouth is interesting and well delivered, because if you’re a good actor, sometimes you can save a bad script or make up for a lack of high-end special effects with a powerful delivery. Unfortunately, this was not the case here. This was amateur script writing, full of every possible line ripped out of a fantasy or medieval movie, and taped together with duct tape. The delivery was appallingly bad. There were brief (and I mean BRIEF) moments where I thought it was going somewhere but then just fizzled.
The fact that it has glimmers of promise makes it that much worse, because it gives you hope that things will get better, or there will be redeeming moments, but it never commits. If it was just terrible from beginning to end, at least then I would’ve been laughing at something, but it couldn’t even muster anything funny. Here is another medieval fantasy that takes itself way too seriously and tries to accomplish way too much. This really looked like a case of a promising, fun concept, but constrained by budgeting woes and poor casting choices. This is a forgettable film. So if you’re looking for a medieval fantasy to watch, I can safely say, give The Four Warriors a pass, and keep that hour and a half of your life for something better. Until next weekend!