Rarely have I gotten the kind of hate mail that I received a year ago when I gave a semi-positive review to Uwe Boll’s BLOODRAYNE. Anonymous posters attacked me personally and went after my family and regular website commenters in an almost deranged fashion, merely because I had deigned to write something less-than-hateful about Boll, who inspires a visceral disgust in cinephiles that could almost be equated to the reaction George Bush evokes in liberals. And it’s not exactly unfair, either – HOUSE OF THE DEAD, which may be the only movie to intersplice video-game footage into live-action fight sequences, is easily one of the worst major motion pictures ever produced; and ALONE IN THE DARK is the only movie I can think of that has the audience in stitches (unintentionally) before a single frame of footage rolls, merely because of its 12-paragraph opening text crawl that goes on forever and makes no sense at all.
Yet both those movies were ultimately bad in a boring way. BLOODRAYNE, unlike its predecessors, had decent production values, and better cinematography and editing than previous Boll films. When it was bad, it was gloriously so – Meat Loaf as a decadent vampire mobster, Michael Madsen sporting the mullet from hell, Michelle Rodriguez doing valiant battle with an English accent and failing, Billy Zane seemingly in a completely separate movie...oh, and Kristanna Loken’s breasts were very nice too.
Now January has rolled around again, and with it another Uwe Boll movie based only slightly on a video game, the cumbersomely named IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE. The king in question is Burt Reynolds, which likely tells you all you need to know. Or not...you might also appreciate the fact that Ray Liotta plays an evil sorcerer, and that Jason Statham is the last hope for the kingdom, as a humble farmer named...Farmer. Who just happens to be the only person in the kingdom armed with a boomerang.
You know this can’t be as “good” as BLOODRAYNE because it’s PG-13. But it does have an amazing cast – Boll’s rather foolproof technique is to do all his casting at the very last minute, catching name actors between projects before they have a chance to think about things too much. So here, with a hodgepodge of accents, we also have Ron Perlman, Claire Forlani, Leelee Sobieski, Kristanna Loken again, and Matthew Lillard, who appears to have been blind drunk for the entire shoot.
The plot, such as it is, involves a bunch of low-rent Orc rip-offs called the Krug, powered by the magic of evil magus Gallian (Liotta). Magi are supposed to lose all their power if they stop serving a king, but Gallian has found a brilliant technical loophole by simply declaring himself king of the Krug. Meanwhile, the actual king’s nephew, Duke Fallow (Lillard) is trying to usurp the throne, which doesn’t sit to well when it turns out that Farmer, as the result of a series of plot developments that all took place offscreen, is actually the rightful heir. Also, Leelee Sobieski plays a tomboyish chick who was momentarily tempted by the sexy charms of Ray Liotta (arguably the hardest thing to believe in a movie about wizards and monsters), and now wants to be a knight – her uncle is John Rhys-Davies, whose presence is clearly supposed to make you think, “Hey, this must be an okay Lord of the Rings rip-off if Gimli’s in it.” Here, he’s a mage, who doesn’t do much except pontificate and die. Oops, spoiler.
Though Boll now has his own fan base who love his awfulness – the crowd I saw the movie with cheered when his name came up onscreen at the end – he isn’t consistent enough for my liking/disliking. There are moments in the movie that honestly border on the artful, and could have gotten there in the hands of someone who knew what they were doing. And then there are parts like when Loken shows up as the leader of a bunch of vine-swinging Cirque du Soleil tree-dwelling lesbians who vehemently profess neutrality for about five minutes, or when Ray Liotta decides he can take out Jason Statham by levitating a bunch of books and spinning them around real fast. Now that’s funny. But this movie is over two hours long.
Oh, and the part where Lillard invokes “Imperial Law,” despite the fact that this is clearly a monarchy, and not an empire.
Best lines of the movie:
“Give me the chicken! Ar ar ar!” – Ron Perlman.
“I only know what you tell me, and you tell me nothing” – Claire Forlani.
“Men – not only useless, but helpless as well.” – recently un-closeted lesbian Kristanna Loken.
“Wisdom is our hammer, prudence will be our nail.” – Burt Reynolds, as part of the best slow-mo extended death scene ever.
“I sense him...IN YOU!” – Ray Liotta, to Forlani.
For the love of God, don’t walk out of the movie – the songs on the end credits are the funniest goddamn thing ever, by a band named Blind Guardian whose sound can best be described as what might happen if a really horrible ‘80s German metal band were stripped of their instruments and forced to play at a Renn Faire. Unreal.
As for the movie itself...it’s no BLOODRAYNE.