Director Uwe Boll adds another classic to his stellar body of work with In The Name of the King 3: The Last Mission. I kid, I kid.
A somewhat preposterous adventure film about a modern hitman traveling back in time and becoming a medieval warrior, the film has Dominic Purcell and some nice CGI going for it. The production design and a nice-looking dragon are the only things that separate Boll’s latest work from the tripe that pops up on a weekly basis from SyFy channel’s movie of the week. Purcell’s career deserves better than this lackluster mash-up of medieval fantasy and Euro thriller.
This franchise is supposedly inspired by the Dungeon Siege videogame series. It is the third movie in the franchise but basically stands on its own, there is no need to have seen the prior two films. The story is completely self contained and zips by in a hurry, clocking in at eighty-five minutes.
Hazen Kaine (Dominic Purcell) is an American hitman working in Bulgaria for some reason. Every actor in the movie other than Purcell is Bulgarian, as it was shot on location in Bulgaria. People expecting a medieval fantasy world will think they are watching the wrong movie for fifteen minutes. After an opening where he shoots up a hotel, some convoluted backstory ends up with Hazen having to kidnap two young girls for his criminal overlords. He ends up with a magical amulet that transports the professional killer back in time to a medieval fantasy period with dragons, though its inhabitants claim it’s still Bulgaria.
Hazen’s gun comes in handy when a dragon attacks a local village. The display of firepower intrigues two warrior princesses looking for help in overthrowing an evil ruler, Tervin. Arabella and Emeline like the cut of Hazen’s jib, eventually taking him to the local wizard and finding his ultimate destiny as a courageous warrior, saving their kingdom.
Most amazing about this movie is that the production design and VFX are shockingly great for a production coming mostly out of Eastern Europe. Independent films have been going there for years due to the lower costs but usually you could spot the differences. If the actors didn’t speak in broken English with heavy accents, one would be hard-pressed to spot any differences in technical quality. The CGI dragon looks fantastic, as good as anything I’ve seen in bigger Hollywood movies.
Where this movie fails is the stiff acting and a story with no sense of depth. The characterization feels underdeveloped and rushed, a common problem in Boll’s prior films. It’s direct-to-video fodder meant to be sold on the meager strength of the franchise’s name.
After a couple of sketchy minutes in the beginning, the main feature practically turns into reference quality video. Shot on the Arri Alexa camera, the 1080P presentation is the epitome of pure digital content. The transfer has not been touched by an ounce of DNR or sharpening, this is razor-sharp clarity with extraordinary resolution.
Fox’s AVC video encode is a little on the low side, averaging 22.80 Mbps. The ultra-clean video compresses very well and looks free of artifacts outside of one early scene.
The color palette favors darker shades, slightly drained of the brightest primary colors. Resolution is very pure and intense, revealing a level of high-frequency content in close-ups that some will find too extreme. Its utterly pristine video does tend toward the bleached color grading found so frequently in modern action vehicles.
A 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack serves its place as a pedestrian affair in a bad action movie. Uwe Boll’s movie begins to show its roots as a cheaply-made film with the limited surround mix. The score is reminiscent of every bad adventure film made in the past two decades. There are some discrete panning effects across the front soundstage and fidelity isn’t bad for an independent movie. Surround channels are used almost entirely in support of the score, spreading it out across the room.
English SDH and Spanish subs are included as options. They display in a white font.
Twentieth Century Fox has included one special feature of note, an unusual featurette interviewing both Dominic Purcell and Uwe Boll. An UltraViolet digital copy has been provided that can be redeemed at any number of UV providers. The code redeems in HDX quality on VUDU.
The Making Of In The Name of the King 3: The Last Mission (14:38 in HD) – Master filmmaker Uwe Boll discusses the film in broken English and subtitled German. I don’t think this featurette was intended to be this funny, but it’s refreshing to hear Boll speak candidly on a number of issues and rip Purcell for his horse-riding. Purcell gives very terse answers in his statements, clearly wanting to get the interview over with and done. Apparently Boll hates rehearsals (what a shock!) and he films his movies without first practicing a scene.
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