Sword of Vengeance (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Well Go USA
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (29th May 2015).
The Film

Although undoubtedly greenlighted as a Game of Thrones cash-in and devoid of originality or novelty in plotting or technical style, Sword of Vengeance is a painless viewing experience that passes by quickly like a flashy trailer while eliciting only a visceral response from the fight scenes and no empathy for any of the cardboard characters. In the devastating aftermath of "The Harrowing" in 1066 A.D. when William the Conqueror ordered the mass slaughter of Northern England's Saxon population, the Shadow Walker (Stanley Weber) slaughters two soldiers of the Earl of Durant (Karel Roden) who is away and not able to divine a clue left with the bodies. His sons Artus (Gianni Giardinelli) and Romain (Edward Akrout) assume the perpetrators to be the surviving Saxons who live like "feral animals" in the woods. The Shadow Walker happens upon the rebuilt village of the Saxons and is captured but frees himself in time to prove his mettle when Romain and a handful of soldiers attack and sends him back to the castles minus an eye. Most of the Saxons want to hang him for bringing Durant's wrath down upon them, but he is saved by hardened widow Anna (Annabelle Wallis) and a small minority who no longer want to live in fear. When Durant sends Artus and a larger party of soldiers to burn down the village, the brutal counterattack by Shadow Walker, Anna, and a few others emboldens rest of the Saxons to rally to their defense and Artus is captured. Unwilling to lose any other men, Durant sends for support from the other Northern kings which comes in the form of six Berserkers, impervious to pain and driven to kill until their hearts give out. Anna is steadfast in her belief that Shadow Walker to lead them in their revolt against Durant's army until she discovers that his true motives lie in vengeance at whatever cost.


The look of Sword of Vengeance is deliberately skewed with harsh contrasts, considerable desaturation, added grain, as well as real and artificial lens flare; but detail is generally quite good for the mid-range 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC encode on this BD25.


As with other Well Go USA Blu-rays, audio options include the original 5.1 track in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio and a 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo downmix. The surround mix is dominated by music in many scenes with simplistic atmospheric effects in the surrounds, but there are plenty of surprising sound effects like the loud metallic opening the Durant castle gates that booms in the center and spreads to the right and left. The downmix is serviceable but why bother. Optional English SDH subtitles are also included.


Extras include two fairly superfluous interviews. In the first, producers Rupert Preston and Huberta Von Liel (8:03) discuss taking on the project because historical epics are less localized, comment on the casting and the chosen actors, shooting in Serbia where the budget went farther, and selecting director Jim Weedon after seeing some video game promos that he had directed. Director Jim Weedon (15:42) recalls rewriting the script to make Shadow Walker more of an anti-hero, shooting in Serbia, the handmade costumes and armor, how blacks and greys were predominant in the sets and wardrobe before the color correction, and speaks highly of the actors bringing his (not as interesting or nuanced as he believes) characters to life. The Behind the Scenes (6:45) segment is most interesting for showing how nice the Serbian landscapes looked before the image was desaturated, and some shots suggest the film might have looked nice with a more conventional color scheme. Extras are filled out by the film's trailer (1:34) and start-up trailers for Kung Fu Killer, the already reviewed These Final Hours, and Enter the Dangerous Mind.



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