DVD REVIEW: KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JOE LYNCH / SCREENPLAY: KEVIN DREYFUSS, MATT WALL / STARRING: STEVE ZAHN, PETER DINKLAGE, RYAN KWANTEN, MARGARITA LEVIEVA / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 9TH
After several years in post-production hell (previewing at San Diego Comic Con in 2011) this comedy-horror based around the cult world of costumed fantasy role players (LARP - Live Action Role Playing) finally reaches the public.
A group of friends, Eric (Zahn), Hung (Dinklage) and Joe (Kwanten), are into the extension of the old Dungeons and Dragons type games. They dress up and inhabit the characters they have created. Eric has acquired a book through eBay, which he intends to use when they go to the big meet-up of LARP-ers. Joe has just suffered a relationship break-up and has decided (due to his ex, Beth (Levieva) pointing it out to him), that he should grow up and start living in the real world. Well, he still has his career as a mechanic, and a heavy metal band anyway. His pals, however, have other ideas and shanghai him into attending the weekend mock-fight, The Battle of Evermore (they missed a trick not licensing the Led Zeppelin track!)
Reading from the book, Eric unwittingly summons a very real demon - a succubus that takes the form of Beth, whom it sees in a photograph Joe has brought with him - and is intent on destroying all in her path. The team are aided in battle by new love interest, Gwen (genre veteran Summer Glau).
As mentioned, the film has been a long time coming, and in that time, it seems plenty has gone wrong behind the scenes, not least the director Joe (Chillerama) Lynch being refused final cut. It's hard to say if the film would actually be any better or not, but the result we are presented with is patchy at best. There's plenty to enjoy; many of the gags are spot on, and Dinklage is brilliant in a role which actually pre-dates his Game of Thrones fame. Sadly, the tone of the film is where the main problems arise. While we are happy to laugh at these deluded adults and their role-playing, when the violence and gore comes (and there is plenty of it), the juxtaposition is a tad jarring. There's a tonal issue with the fate of some of the characters, too, which certainly takes the humour out of the proceedings.
That said, it's an entertaining film, the effects work better when they are practical rather than CGI, as the computer-rendered gore just looks too false. The climactic battle with a giant behemoth summoned by the succubus is spectacularly bloody though.
It's certainly not perfect, but there's still a half decent romp to be enjoyed here, if approached with the right frame of mind.