Apologies for the lack of credit information, but I couldn't find the film on IMDB and the credits are unclear on the DVD.
Blood of Warriors: Sacred Ground is a sort of sequel to 2000's Bang Rajan with that film's director Thanit Jitnukul back behind the camera to tell the story of a warrior tribe who are inspired by the actions of the Bang Rajan rebels to fight to defend their land against the oncoming imperial army. Of course the odds are stacked up against them and food is becoming scarce as they take in more and more villagers who have turned to the tribe for help after their homes have been destroyed, but they are powerful and honourable warriors and do their best to hold their ground by any means necessary.
I've not actually seen Bang Rajan, but from what I've seen from trailers and descriptions I imagine this is more of the same, i.e. stirring speeches and heartfelt moments between family members bridging the gap between lots of brutal violence. In other words Braveheart remade in Thailand. Unfortunately, as entertaining as the film is at times, it suffers from the same flaws as Mel Gibson's rousing epic and further heightens them. The main problem is that the film is so over-earnest. We're 'treated' to far too many rousing addresses and worries about the level of food in the village and the actors aren't charismatic enough to make them any more than tiresome.
However, I imagine you don't watch a film called Blood of Warriors for the drama. The action is what matters and generally it delivers. It's a manically edited affair, but it's exhilarating, stylish and spectacularly bloody. Some dodgy CGI and a horribly inconsistent and overly heavy rain effect in the finale threaten to derail matters, but generally when the tribe unleash hell it's a lot of fun to watch and the finale remains dramatic. It's also quite a lavish affair and the sets and costumes give the film a fairly decent production value, although it's still quite a distance from say Zhang Yimou's recent work.
Unfortunately, it's a long film at 122 minutes and there isn't enough action to make up for it's faults, meaning I was itching to hit the fast forward button as I had to listen to yet another reason why the tribe should stand and fight. It's just too poorly written and melodramatic, with every point overstated to death. Given a handful of cuts this could have been a decent action film, but as it stands it's merely an over-long, wannabe epic with staggered moments of well mounted excitement.
The DVD is out now in the UK released by Metrodome with a fairly substantial making of documentary and a digital copy of the film. The picture quality is quite disappointing though, with a murky look making the film seem older than it should.
Review by David Brook