An inexpensive action adventure flick with a soupcon of supernatural content, The Four Warriors is actually relatively short on both action and adventure – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a look.
The premise is promising. Returning from the Crusades, three warriors and their captive “infidel” happen upon a village somewhere in the east of Europe, populated only by women – the children and men having been taken by outside forces. Richard (Christopher Danes, also on scriptwriting duties), leader of the soldiers, thinks they have been seized by slavers, whereas Alina (Alex Childs), head woman of the village, is convinced that something more devilish is responsible. As it turns out, neither is wrong. When Alina’s son Dimitri disappears, the scene is set for an expedition into the lair of the Demon in an attempt to rescue the lost children.
There are very few surprises along the way, and the characters are composed of all the archetypes you’d expect. Of the warriors, Richard is bearded and serious, Hamish (Fergal Philips) youthful and easily distracted, and William (Glenn Spears) is a mostly effective comic foil – and probably the real heart of the film. The “fourth” warrior, Khushtar (Hadrian Howard) is predictably taciturn, and there won’t be any prizes for guessing what trajectory his character development takes. The two women we meet are equally epitomical, with Jessica Blake as Dahra providing perhaps the film’s only surprise, when it turns out that her character isn’t suspicious, as we might have been given to predict.
With a little more nuance or lightness of touch, this could have been a film from which you expect little and are more than pleasantly rewarded. As it is, it’s rather talky and takes itself more seriously than it really intends to, and as such struggles to excite. However, the photography is gorgeous and despite some rather laboured scene-setting, the characters mostly feel genuine enough to engage (with the exception of the rotund and good-natured seer, Baliphar, a cameo from Kristian Nairn), and you do end up caring about them.
With no money for prosthetics, the demonic forces are presented only in black cloaks and cheap-looking masks, and the effects budget seems not to stretch any further than a couple of Paintbox shots and a flaming sword, the result of which being a final act that doesn’t reward the anticipation it has built. Nevertheless, the dialogue, while being clichéd and inconsistently inauthentic, at least keeps the film both watchable and, for the most part, entertaining, although the fight sequences feel very much pre-The Matrix in construction. Very much slower than you might expect (at least, until the last third), The Four Warriors is a poor cousin to the likes of 300, but is not without merit.
Special Features: TBC
INFO: THE FOUR WARRIORS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PHIL HAWKINS / SCREENPLAY: CHRISTOPHER DANE / STARRING: CHRISTOPHER DANE, KRISTIAN NAIRN, ALEX CHILDS, HADRIAN HOWARD, FERGAL PHILIPS / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 29TH (DIGITAL RELEASE)