The Veil (or Barbarian: Rise of the Warrior as it is called in the UK) is a bona-fide medieval fantasy movie with a side of sci-fi to go with it. An unnamed warrior (William Levy) is left for dead by his battalion. He is then healed by a princess - whose tribe believes he is destined to fight in a final battle - and he trains the tribe members to prepare them for the upcoming fight.
An immediate problem with The Veil is the warrior’s reasons for staying to help. He is a superior fighter to any of the tribesmen who have taken him in. He could escape at any point, clearly being weirded out by those around him, yet decides to stay. His charitable offer to help is never really explained, beyond occasional allusions to destiny and purpose that are never given the time or exploration they deserve. Jeff Goldberg tries to cram a lot into a 90 minutes or so running time, and isn’t too successful, with character motivations and details of tribal beliefs never probed in much detail.
Some things in the film simply confuse. Mystical visions and a mind-altering woollen hood make about as little sense as a giant planet appearing in the sky (something else this film has and does not explain especially well). While these do make a little more sense in hindsight, it ruins the experience when the audience are scratching their heads the whole time as opposed to enjoying an intriguing storyline.
On the more basic fronts however, The Veil does more than enough to be enjoyable. It is a strong lead performance from Levy, who is well suited for the role of a hardened swordsman with iron-forged pecs, these being shown off at almost every opportunity. The costume is impressive too, especially the beastly look of the Dominion tribe, whose animal facemasks and heavy black armour perfectly capture their ferociousness and savage nature.
There is some very nice cinematography in places as well, particularly the few shots that leave the fighting aside and spend a few fleeting seconds looking down at some leaves, or up at the tree branches. There is a strange beauty in these moments that sadly are too short. While the giant planet may not make much sense on a logical level, visually it is quite something to look at the points where it seems to get closer to the warrior’s world.
Not a perfect film, but definitely enjoyable for those already a fan of this genre. There is some strong work both on and off the camera evident here which is let down by its short running time and some inadequately explained details.
BARBARIAN: RISE OF THE WARRIOR (THE VEIL) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: BRENT RYAN GREEN / SCREENPLAY: JEFF GOLDBERG / STARRING: WILLIAM LEVY, SERINDA SWAN, WILLIAM MOSELEY, NADIA COMANECI, BILLY BLAIR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (DVD)