Say what you will about Uwe Boll's first film in the In The Name Of The King series, but in this writer's opinion, seeing Jason Statham play a farmer fighting Ray Liotta as an evil warlock to help out a king played by Burt Reynold was... awesome. Not awesome in the way that good a movie is awesome, but awesome in the way that it kept you guessing what sort of lunacy Boll was going to throw at you next and you rarely expected what would inevitably hit the screen. When it was announced that Boll would be making a follow up film and that Dolph Lundgren would be the leading man, well, how could expectations not be high? Sadly, this second offering never comes close to hitting those same bizarre heights, but it's still entertaining enough in a really dumb way.
Lundgren plays an ex-soldier named Granger who teaches karate to poor kids in Vancouver, British Columbia. When one of the guys who used to serve under him gets out of hand during a demonstration and tries to kick Granger in the balls, he shows us what a bad ass he is and puts him into a submission hold. Evidently at this point, he's accomplished what needs to accomplish for the day and he heads home where, after raising a toast to his fallen comrades and running a bath, he's attacked by medieval ninjas and then saved by a sexy time travelling sorceress named Elianna (Natalia Guslistaya) who whisks him back through a portal to her time. After fighting some more ninja types and losing Elianna in the process, Granger is introduced to The King (Lochlyn Munroe) who tells him that he was once known as Raven and that he needs his help to kill an evil woman named The Holy Mother (Christina Jastrzembska). Without much other choice, Granger begrudgingly agrees to help out - after all, he is the 'chosen one' according to the prophecy - so he and the king's right hand man and a sexy doctor named Manhattan (Natassia Malthe), who he bangs, head into the woods where they're attacked by more ninjas.
Soon, however, Granger realizes that something is up and that there's a mold in their midst. When he finally does meet the Holy Mother she's not who he expected her to be, and in fact, she's got a hot daughter who runs a mean army and who tells him that in order to save his own time from the plague he must head into the Dark Forest and find the catalyst! With the future of the world at hand, Granger has to run around and fight bad guys until he sorts all of this out once and for all.
Did you ever play Dungeons & Dragons as a kid and have one of those gaming sessions where you got the impression that the 'Dungeon Master' was just making stuff up as he went along? This movie is the cinematic equivalent of that gaming session - and if you're not making the connection, it's safe to say that this is not a movie for you. With that said, as dumb as this movie gets (and it's REALLY dumb), there's a certain segment of the bad movie loving populace that will get a kick out of it. Dolph Lundgren has never been regarded as one of modern cinema's finest actors but he's always had screen presence and this film is no exception. Granted, Dolph seems to be sleepwalking through most of the movie and has all the enthusiasm here of a piece of wet cardboard but you can't help but be amused when you see him zipping around the woods of Medieval Vancouver in modern day attire surrounded by dudes in armor and various ninjas and you have to snicker a little bit when he gets sucked through a time portal. It's all just so... odd that you can't help yourself.
As to the story itself, it's completely disjointed and utter nonsense but it does allow for a few fight scenes and has the good sense to pull in a giant fire-breathing dragon out of nowhere for the big finish. It might not always make sense and it might be full of random crap that happens for no discernable reason, but yeah, it's got a neat dragon and as dopey as everything here is, it's well put together on a technical level. The movie is well shot, meaning that those cheap sets are always in crisp focus and viewed from a nice angle and as far as the editing goes, if it doesn't fix the pacing problems at least there aren't any jump cuts. In terms of sex and violence, this one can't compare to some of Boll's more exploitative pictures, sadly. Though there are two opportunities for gratuitous nudity neither one comes to fruition and outside of some mild bloodshed here and there, the only really gory bit is a nice impalement half way through the movie. But yeah, it's got a time travelling Dolph Lundgren in it and a dragon and a King named Raven and some ninjas - so if that sounds like your bag, by all means, jump right in.
In The Name Of The King 2 looks very good on Blu-ray presented in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer in its 1.78.1 widescreen aspect ratio. Detail is crisp and sharp throughout the film and colors are nicely reproduced here. As the movie was shot digitally there are no problems with print damage, dirt or debris of any kind and the image is very clean looking, as it should be. There are a few spots where the color tinting goes in some slightly odd directions giving people a pink-ish/purple-ish tone but these instances are infrequent. Black levels are strong and deep if not completely consistent (a few times too many they look dark grey, not inky black) but there are no compression or noise reduction issues of note.
The only audio option for the movie is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. Quite surprisingly, given the nature of the movie, the mix is very front heavy with only the score really doing much of note in the rear channels. All the clanking of swords and roaring or dragons generally comes at you from the front of the soundstage. With that said, the levels are well balanced, the dialogue perfectly clear and the effects mixed in with the right amount of punch. A more involving mix would have made this movie more fun to be sure, but what's here sounds good - just not amazing. Optional subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish.
Fox kicks off the extras on this release with the first of two commentary tracks, director Uwe Boll's discussion of the film. When he's not simply telling us what we're seeing on screen, Boll manages to give us some interesting insight into his creative process, some thoughts on what it was like working with the different actors on the project and what it was like shooting out in the middle of the woods in British Columbia. He also takes a phone call at one point. The second commentary track lets screenwriter Michael Nachoff take the reins as he lets us in on what was changed in what we see on the screen compared to his original story, what it was like working with Boll, and what Boll more or less decided to change all on his own on the fly while the movie was being made. Both tracks are entertaining enough, though neither is an essential listen.
Also included here is a featurette entitled Behind the Scenes Of In the Name Of The King 2: Two Worlds in which Boll along with actors Lundgren, Malthe, and Munro offer some insight into what it was like on set. At just under seven minutes in length it doesn't get too in-depth but it does provide some interesting footage. A second featurette, From Page To Screen: Writing In the Name of The King 2: Two Worlds, lets Nachoff make the case for how his script ties into the first movie and let us in on his writing process. Rounding out the extras are trailers for a few unrelated Fox properties, animated menus and chapter stops. All of the extras on the Blu-ray disc are in high definition.
There's no denying that In The Name Of The King 2: Two Worlds is an awful film by anyone's standards but with that said, even if it never reaches the deliriously ridiculous heights of the first film in the series, it's still passably entertaining in its own really dumb way. Lundgren fans will appreciate seeing the man in the lead, even if he more or less sleepwalks through the movie, and hey, it's got a dragon in it. That counts for something, right? Right? You've got to be a big Boll or Lundgren fan to want to own this one, however, so if you're curious, you're probably best served with a rental.
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.