“Sword of Vengeance” is a film by the esteemed Jim Weedon. It was released in 2015 to less than universal acclaim. Instead of standing in the long lines at the theater, you can now stream it on Netflix. Thank God for Netflix! The movie is historical fiction (heavy emphasis on the fiction) set in the time after the Norman Conquest. William the Conqueror has sent an army to northern England to carry out a campaign of “furious destruction”. This is known as the Harrowing. William’s most feared war lord Earl Devant is responsible for killing 100,000 Saxons. Boy were his arms tired! He now rules with his sons Artus (Gianni Giardinelli) and Romain (Edward Akrout). They are both good boys. Just kidding.
In an ominous development, the movie goes to slo-mo in the first minute. And an amputated hand within two minutes. A mysterious cloaked stranger called the Shadow Walker (Stanley Weber) has an encounter with some lackeys with predictable results. It’s very graphic, naturally. Two men are dead before the severed hand hits the ground. The Shadow Walker then walks (slow motion) through the woods. There will be a lot of walking in this movie.
Artus and Romain don’t get along. Artus is a bully. He sends Romain to bring back Shadow Walker’s head. The encounter does not go well for Romain who loses an eye. That’s better than the heads three of his men lose. Shadow Walker hooks up with a woman named Anna. They have a slo-mo bonding scene. This movie would be half as long without the slow motion. Artus begins a scorched earth program because in the Middle Ages if someone offends you, the peasants have to pay. A blood spraying melee ensues and Artus is captured. Romain arrives to negotiate, but the Shadow Walker is not the talkative type. It looks like daddy will need to get involved. Defensive preps montage. In slo-mo. Bare-chested sword honing. Flashback – it turns out Durand killed Shadow Walker’s father right in front of him (is there any other way in movies like this?) Slo-mo sally from the fort. Durand has brought six berserkers with him just so he can say “release Hell!” Shadow Walker has to take on four baddies. Lucky for him, they nicely take him on one at a time. These prelims lead to the main bout with Durand. Clang and woosh go the double swords and double axes. Post script: the village is being assaulted. This looks like a job for Shadow Walker. Handing out weapons and gearing up montage. They have plenty of time because the enemy is coming in slo-mo.
“Sword of Vengeance” is slow-moving. Get it? In fact, it would be better titled “The Slow Walker”. It is poorly acted and the characters are all cliché. The central hero is a dud and so is the main hero. The dialogue does not help the actors. If you took a drink every time the Shadow Walker speaks, you’d have only a slight buzz. If you drank every time he said something intelligible, you’d be completely sober. There is a butch chick (Anna) who adds some girl power. It would have been nice if the director had added some color. The film is close to being black and white. Does it cost more to be more colorful? There is a lot of blood splattering, but it’s drab. All the throat cuttings don’t redden the screen much. Speaking of which, there is not a lot of variety in the deaths. Usually in a movie like this the director has a check list of various decapitations and amputations. Weedon’s list was not long. The fights are blah, including the climactic duel. In other words, the movie should have been entertainingly bad. Instead, it’s just bad.