Director: David L G Hughes
Script: David L G Hughes
Cast: Terence Stamp, Anna Demetriou, Ian Bettie, Paul Freeman, Will Mellor, Timo Nieminen, Andrew Whipp, Taylor Frost, Victoria Broom, Murry McArthur
Running time: 91 minutes
The kingdom of Volsung is under attack and the king’s wife is in labour. The queen persuades the king to leave her so he can focus on defeating the intruders, all the while knowing that in doing so his absence from the birth reputedly brings bad fortune to the child. True to form, when the king returns to his chambers, after the battle, he finds his wife has died in childbirth and he’s left with a daughter. His scheming half-brother suggests that they swap babies, since his own wife has just given birth to a son. The king, still wracked with grief, reluctantly agrees, and the secret swap is done.
Twenty one years later and we see that the king’s ‘son’ is a bookish lad. The young man, Hekon (Taylor Frost), is no leader and doesn’t want to be, while the half-brother’s comely daughter, Helle (Anne Demetriou), is a tom-boy, who takes private lessons from the king’s master-at-arms and wants to be able to do more than just handmaiden stuff. Even the king’s secretly adopted son thinks Helle should replace the king when it’s time, as she’s a natural leader.
Unfortunately, the king is betrayed and killed by his half-brother and the blame is laid on Helle who then has to flee her kingdom or be executed for treason. Throughout her adventures she’s advised by an ethereal form of the Viking god Odin (Terence Stamp), who explains that she’s more important than she could know and must take Volsung back and fulfil her destiny.
I have to say that I’m always somewhat sceptical about films that are written, produced and directed by the same person – it screams low-budget and probably low quality too. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Of Gods and Warriors, which – although it has some of the problems associated with a lower budget – clearly displays the clarity of mind of its principal creator and is all the better for it. Sadly, it probably won’t win any acting or script awards, but it’s still an entertaining sword and sorcery film, which is fairly well told and will appeal to less demanding fans of the genre. I class myself as one of those.
Of Gods and Warriors has reasonable production values, although it has a more intimate scope, notably demonstrated by its small-scale battles and relatively small cast. However, there’s plenty of ambition here, and the fact that the makers have ensembled quite a few ‘names’ from the acting profession, to appear in the movie, is kudos to them. For example, it’s always great to see screen legend Terence Stamp (Superman 2, The Limey) in the film, and co-stars like Will Mellor (Broadchurch) and Ian Beattie (Game of Thrones) are welcome cast additions too. I did, however, get the impression that a few of the speaking cast are more used to theatrical plays than screen work judging by their speech deliveries.
The lead actress (Demetriou) did okay for her first role, although I thought she was better at the action and fight stuff, rather than the dramatic scenes. In fact, I thought she had real presence as a physical performer so I hope that we’ll see her again in something else soon. And I thought action director, Jude Poyer, did a pretty decent job, considering the limitations he probably had to work with.
The film is well shot and appears to be graded in a way that works for this type of film, which is less common in lower budget fare. The movie also utilises some interesting locations (primarily in Northern Ireland), including an impressive cave system. Somewhat bizarrely, the music score sounded a bit too epic for such a modest movie!
Overall though, I did enjoy the film, despite an occasionally cringey script and some awful dialogue (and its deliveries) from time to time!
101 Films are distributing Of Gods and Warriors on DVD and Blu-Ray. There are a number of special features including:
Mini interviews with: writer/producer/director David Hughes (10 mins) – he talks about the film as being his ‘blood-soaked revenge against Disney princess films’! Also interviewed are a number of actors including: Terence Stamp, Anna Demetriou, Martin Forde, Taylor Frost, Paul Freeman and Will Mellor, who just basically describe who they play in the film. Also interviewed are: Sara Deane (DoP) and Jude Poyer (Stunts and fights).
Director’s trailer (2.47 mins) – this is quite cool as it’s more of a promo reel used to raise finances for the film rather than a traditional trailer. It was shot in Sweden, under the original title of Viking destiny, and appears to be much more violent and grim than the final film, and with different actors.
Actual trailer (2.24 mins) – Possibly a bit overlong…