Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Cheapo DVD Review: Rise Of The Gladiators (2017)

"A Templar Knight is forced to fight as a gladiator where challengers from different worlds duel in a quest for a magical sword. Then the Templar learns he is scheduled to fight his master who has become a man of greed and ambition. Now the Templar teams with his adversaries against the master and his disciples."

As always, my first question is "Does the DVD cover bear any resemblance to the actual film?"

Noooo! Not even a tiny little bit! 

  The cover shows a bunch of Roman dudes fighting in a sandy Roman arena in front of a bunch of Romans in broad daylight. The only commonality with the film I watched is that a couple of white blokes used swords and they weren't Romans anyway. 

So with the exception of one throwaway line there aren't any gladiators in this film, rising or otherwise. 

Tell you who is in this film, however. 

Ex-WWE star Rikishi. (Butt-cheeks thankfully hidden away.)
You'd think somebody would have mentioned that on the cover, especially since Rikishi is one of the producers.  Seriously, wouldn't having a big, Polynesian badass or two on the cover make much more of a visual impact? 

 One last gripe about the cover and then I'll get on to the film itself I promise. 
The tagline is "Some Who Enter The Arena Lose Their Lives."  
Really? That's the best you could come up with?  
You managed to make a spectacle about bloody fights to the death sound about as exciting as darts. 

So what's the film about? 
 According to the Discovery channel style voiceover at the start,  once the world was united and the focal point was some sort of super-magic sword.  Then somebody tried to nick it and the lands were divided as punishment.  Every thousand years a tournament is held where warriors and champions from across the world come to a cave/pocket dimension to battle for the sword. 
 One team find themselves short of a fighter so they shanghai a stray Templar Knight en route . When they arrive, not only do they have to deal with a motley collection of  stereotypes but also the slight problem that the current holder of the sword isn't playing by the rules.  

What did I think? 
 Rise Of The Gladiators had the potential to be quite an interesting film. The idea of having a secret fighting tournament isn't remotely unique but with the assembled warriors including Amazonian Indians, African warriors, Polynesians, Vikings and.Arabs this was a great change to see some weapons and martial arts that don't normally get a look in.
 (Have you ever seen footage of Maori demonstrating those terrifying war-clubs and asked yourself. "I wonder how he would fare against a Viking?" I have.) Then there's the huge stakes involved, tensions between the various teams and the hosts, the kidnapped Templar coming to believe in his captor's mission. 
All kinds of building blocks for, if not a great film, then at least an enjoyable one. 

  Sadly however, the whole thing comes across as rushed. Most of the fights are brief, not particularly well-choreographed, barehand fights and not particularly exciting either. Not much here that makes you think "Ok. Now that's cool."
  Having most of the action being shot in a dark room really doesn't help.  

The other stuff isn't handled especially well either. The backstage drama feels sketched-in as a rough framework for the fights and as I've already said, since they don't hold up well, the rest can't make up for it. Some of the acting is weak, the dialogue has some jarring lapses into modern-day language and the director keeps throwing in scenery shots when he can't think of anything better to do. 

In short, Rise Of The Gladiators has some nice ideas but fails to make best use of them. 

How much did I pay for this: £1.
Was it worth it?  Debatable. At best, Rise... can be classed as "watchable if you're in the right mood." 
What a shame. 

That's All Folks. 

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