House Of The Dead. Alone In The Dark. Bloodrayne. Postal. Uwe Boll is the undisputed king of bad video game movies, his name so often and closely associated with this odd phenomena that it's become pretty ridiculous, but ridiculous is what Boll does best and In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale demonstrates just how ridiculous he can get. This film is astonishingly stupid.
Jason Statham plays a farmer named Farmer (seriously) gets pissed off when some creatures known as The Krug decide to take over his land, abduct his lovely wife (Claire Forlani), and murder his little boy. Those dastardly Krug have got their sites set on bigger things, however -they intend to overthrow King Konreid (real life one time king of cool Burt Reynolds) and claim his kingdom for their own. To help them in their sinister quest is an evil wizard named Gallian (Ray Liotta) who more or less serves as their leader but what King Konreid doesn't know is that his trusted right hand man, Duke Fallow (Matthew Lillard) is scheming against him and that he's in cahoots with the bad guys.
Farmer, wanting to save his hot wife and avenge his dead kid, rallies up some of his pals, like the mighty Norick (Ron Perlman), and heads into the fray where he runs into a magician named Merick (John Rhyes-Davies) and a foxy tree nymph named Elora (Claire Forlani) and a female warrior named Muriella (Leelee Sobieski). This rag-tag group of warriors, mystics, and, um, farmers soon find themselves involved in more than just a plot to steal back a farmer's wife, however, and Farmer soon learns his true destiny...
Definitely the most epic film that Herr Boll has had his name attached to (just look at all those aerial shots in the first half hour - EPIC!!!!), In The Name Of The King, at hours long, wants to be Lord Of The Rings but comes off as a cheap and uninspired knock off. Statham does the best he can but he's surrounded by the ridiculous overacting of Lillard (who, to his credit, looks like he's having a lot of fun here) and Ray Liotta (whose smirk just seems to get creepier and creepier). Reynolds sleepwalks through the whole thing while Perlman looks confused.
And then there's the dialogue....
"Tonight we dress our wounds and bury our dead. Tomorrow we gouge evil from it's shell!
Can you actually gouge evil? Does it actually live in a shell? The dialogue in this film is puzzling, to say the least but it certainly provides a whole lot of unintentional comedy and as such, it makes In The Name Of The King a whole lot more watchable than it would have been if it were written in a more sensible manner. Seeing this ridiculous script delivered by somewhat reputable actors like Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds and Ron Perlman just makes the whole thing all the more insane, leading to the obvious question.... How did these people wind up in a Boll film in the first place? Reynolds and Liotta haven't set the world on fire lately but they've both made some great films while Perlman has established himself as an interesting leading man thanks to Hellboy. Statham has been enjoying no shortage of success thanks to the Besson produced actioners coming out of Lionsgate and it's unlikely he took the part just for the paycheck. Hearing Burt Reynolds call in the ninjas is great in a 'Holy crap did he just call in the ninjas? Where did he get ninjas??' sort of way, but really... is he that hard up? It's maybe not as surprising to see William Sanderson and Leelee Sobieski here, but even as far as they're concerned, they're certainly capable of getting work in better movies.
The fight scenes in In The Name Of The King are interesting. Though they're almost completely bloodless (rare for a Boll film) they're violent as hell. Bodies are thrown into trees and tossed through the air like rag dolls while brave and noble soldiers administer some much deserved flying dropkicks to the evil Krug warriors. Arrows fly through the air by the hundreds and impact shots are repeated a few times, likely in an effort to milk the most out of the effects budget. No one really bleeds when they're hit by a sword in this movie, but that doesn't mean that about a zillion people don't get slapped around by Farmer's mighty blade every time a fight breaks out. He even takes down bad guys with a spear, just to spice things up a bit. At one point, an evil Krug is sent catapulting into a tree.
That said, In The Name Of The King is not a complete waste of time if you're in the right frame of mind. This is an entertaining movie in its own unique way. If you dig on vine swinging tree nymphs, ninjas, swordplay, Planet Of The Apes inspired monster make up, and dialogue that feels like it was ripped out of a bad Tolkien-inspired fan fiction project (or maybe a D&D game), then this is the movie for you - particularly if you have an affinity for bad CGI work and strange editing choices. Don't expect good performances or competent cinematography (what's with all the out of focus long shots????), and don't expect a story that makes a whole lot of sense. Instead, enjoy this one for the train wreck that it is, as a sword and sorcery/fantasy mess that you laugh at, rather than with.
In The Name Of The King looks pretty good presented in anamorphic 2.35.1 widescreen. There's a little bit of edge enhancement and some scenes appear a little too gritty but everything looks decent otherwise. There aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts nor is there much in the way of aliasing to complain about. Color reproduction is a little muted looking in some scene but this looks to be a stylistic choice rather than a flaw with the transfer.
The sole audio track on this DVD is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix with optional subtitles provided in English and Spanish. Dialogue is clean and clear and the audio is free of any hiss or distortion. Surrounds are used well during the battle scenes and the score swells up nicely when it's called upon. Some of the fights could have used the surrounds more effectively than they do but aside from that there's really very little to complain about here, the movie sounds quite good.
First up is a Behind The Scenes (10:09) featurette that is basically just a bunch of random footage shot on set with some instrumental music playing behind it. There's no narration here to give it any context but if you enjoy seeing various cast and crew members walking around doing their thing, then this will be right up your alley. Anyone looking for something with actual substance, however, will be sorely disappointed.
Also included on the DVD is a selection of three deleted/extended scenes. The three deleted scenes are Rise Of A New King (3:08), Farmer And Norick Fend Off Krug (5:19), and Farmer, Norick And Bastian Take Rest (1:06). All three are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
Rounding out the extras are the film's original theatrical trailer (non-anamorphic widescreen), trailers for a few other unrelated Fox DVD releases, static menus and chapter selection for the feature.
In The Name Of The King is a lot of goofy fun. It's not a great film by any stretch but it's a completely entertaining medieval/fantasy romp with an enjoyable cast and some memorably campy moments. Keep in mind, this is a Uwe Boll film and should be approached as such, but those with a taste for the terrible should get a kick out of this completely retarded movie. Recommended for established Boll fans, a rental for everyone else.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.