Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tales of an Ancient Empire – review

Director: Albert Pyn

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

I suppose I am doing this film somewhat of a disservice by reviewing it, as I am reviewing the Thai DVD and I believe extra footage is being added into the US release (5 minutes or so at the head) but 5 minutes will not save this film, I’m afraid.

Tales of an Ancient Empire is a vampire sword and sorcery flick and stars Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) - and trust me the production values were higher in Hercules.

Melissa Ordway as Tanis
The film starts with photos and legends regarding two characters, Tanis (Melissa Ordway) and Kara (Victoria Maurette), the first a princess, the second the slave daughter of a vampire sorceress… both sharing the same father and the same destiny. One a champion of light and the other a creature of darkness. Etcetera and so on, you get the picture.

vampire awakens
After a scene from the end of the film (we’ll get back to it later), we cut back three weeks and a ship heads to the Isle of Sorrow. Sailor/pirate type guys enter a tomb and open a sarcophagus, but it is empty and then it starts to fill with a reforming body. Some funky effects follow. The core crew seem (through a distortion) to have their essences sucked as the captain shields his eyes. A vampiress reforms and kills the crew – and I liked her first appearance. She questions the captain about the kingdom of Abelar and can’t enunciate through fangs… the dialogue sound is poor (possibly, bar speech impeded by fangs, a Thai disc issue)… nevertheless I turned the subtitles on.

Victoria Maurette as Kara
Long story short, the vampire was killed by ‘the mercenary’ whilst working for Abelar and cast her demon father into the abyss – whilst taking time out to get both the vampire and the queen pregnant (fathering Tanis and Kara). The queen is now dead and her daughter Ma’at (Jennifer Siebel Newsom) rules. The vampires attack Abelar (and we see little of the attack in the limited sets, indeed we see little action throughout). Kara persuades a guard to abandon his post, they are captures and (half) turned. Tanis is told the truth of her father and escapes.

the good ship 'no texture'
The escape is made on the worst cgi ship ever… Little tip, textures. When, nowadays, computer games trailers might be mistaken for a film trailer there is no excuse to have such insipid computer graphics in a film. The sorceress causes it to shipwreck (a pointless exercise as the Princess survives and is apparently just down the road from where she wanted to be). Kara is half vampire and thus can daywalk and is sent after her – as Tanis will trust her… well, except fot the fangs and the fact that there is no attempt to gain her trust, just an attack later on.

Kevin Sorbo as Aedan
Tanis, looking for her father finds her half-brother Aedan, played by Kevin Sorbo who is excellent as the lecherous, conniving rogue of an anti-hero. He helps her find her sisters, after a promise of reward, and the siblings (who have to save Abelar before the full moon or the world will end as the vampire sorceress opens a portal for her father) look for their father. They get to the town he lives in and are picked up one by one by the vampires.

bad cgi blade moment
They are rescued (in the scene we saw at the beginning of the film) by a cloak wearing dude, ie their father. He throws unconvincing cgi blades around and the vampires die – except Kara who vanishes but isn’t dead… it doesn’t matter though because the film ends dead in its tracks – mercifully short but annoyingly not even at a cliffhanger. At the credits there is a trailer for part 2 and, despite the poor mess that this is, I’ll undoubtedly watch it.

Plusses; Kevin Sorbo, a few nice fang shots and some beautiful girls. Minuses; story, cgi, fang related speech impediments, lack of sword fights, lack of sets and lack of budget generally. Director Pyn gave us the sword and sorcery cult classic the Sword and the Sorcerer back in the eighties (indeed as Lee Horsley is in this playing the character Talon, one could say this is a loose sequel). I can’t help but feel that there was a good fun film wanting to scratch its way out of the corpse-like carapace of this flick. It didn’t, hamstringed by a lack of budget as much as anything, but it wanted to.

cinematic masochism
Will I get the US (UK?) cut with the different 5 minutes (and I pray, some work on the cgi)? Possibly, just to see…. Will I get the sequel? As I said, yes, very probably, due to an innate need to know and a sense of cinematic masochism especially with regards the vampire genre. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Count Basarab said...

Oh dear :P

Well I knew you'd want to watch it due to your love for all things Vamypre, but I'm glad you agree at how terrible it was! UGH.

To be honest though, I think this is the first "Sword and Sorcery" flick to feature vampires, and not some Sorcerer etc as villain. I think though that was mostly to cash in on the current vampire craze.

But Sword and Sorcery films are known for their sword battles! To not have them was a travesty! (Though the pretty girls ALMOST made up for that, even though they are in the better S&S films as well).

I guess Kevin Sorbo is just taking the money and running nowadays, similar to how he did not long ago with that Fright Night knock-off "Never Cry Werewolf" that starred Nina Dobrev (Elena), pre-Vampire Diaries.

Still for what it's worth, I'm sorry for putting you through that man :(

Taliesin_ttlg said...

you don't need to apologise, I would have watched anyway; re the dobrov film, I’ve never seen so can’t comment

Everlost said...

oh no! i was hoping that was going to be a good one as well. Dont tell teresa you gave it a 2, i might force her to watch it at some point!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

my lips are sealed ;)