Review: Rise of the Shadow Warrior / Cert: 15 / Director: John Lyde / Screenplay: Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin / Starring: Danielle Chuchran, Richard McWilliams, Paul D. Hunt / Release Date: July 29th
This is the sort of film in which the plot can be best described by counting off who and what’s in the cast list, rather trying to discern some sort of logic to it. It contains a mysterious elven bounty hunter, a dwarf with gadgets, a horrible curse, orcs, a dragon and the now mandatory presence of undead monsters.
Rise of the Shadow Warrior looks really good for a low budget fantasy movie. One of the great things about the success of World of Warcraft and The Lord of the Rings has been that high quality, low cost props are now easily available, and by throwing in a touch of CGI you can have a low budget fantasy movie that actually looks like it’s set on another world, rather than in a forest in Canada. The dwarves look nicely steampunk, the orcs look like they’re on their way to win a Fellowship of the Ring cosplay event and the dragons look like great big flying lizards, rather than a letdown.
Is it a good movie? Not really. Osombie actress Danielle Chuchran plays a convincingly mysterious elf but mostly the performances are overplayed, mistaking volume and exaggerated movement for emotion. The characters aren’t that interesting and the plot gets way too mixed up in itself to actually make much sense. That said, the action scenes are very well done and many of the scenes are framed beautifully. Just when you think it’s going to get dull, something happens to pick up the (very uneven) pace and you find yourself interested again. This almost makes it the perfect movie for a night-in with friends; there’s enough going on on-screen to keep people entertained, but the story isn’t strong enough to prevent people from interrupting the movie to have a conversation or sort out a pizza order.
This low budget movie (which also goes by the name of Dragon Lore: Curse of the Shadow) makes a jolly good effort at world building and fantasy adventure. It’s a bit of a pity that it’s dull and uninspired, but fans of fantasy B-movies such as The Book of Vile Darkness will certainly find this to be similar fare. If nothing else, you can always turn the sound down, play a heavy metal album over it and have the pretty set scenes run on in the background.