In a world where two forces come together and do battle, only the honest true survivor will win. No, I am not referring to the warring factions in writer/director Ross Boyask’s latest fight fest but, rather, my close friendship to him versus what I think of his film.
I know Mr. Boyask (who frequents these here reviews) is known to us all, but I have nothing but extreme bodily fluids and appreciation for what he manages to do on an extremely limited budget. I know he doesn’t care for friendly hyperbole in the face of genuine honesty, and sycophancy is not something I am known for. He has assured me that he does not mind me going public with my opinion.
So it is with this delicate preamble that I lay my cards on the table; Warrioress is, quite frankly, a mixed bag.
Warrioress (spell check be damned) stars stuntwoman/actress/weapons master/writer/songwriter/singer Cecily Fay as Boudiccu – a rather feisty badass who is sent on a quest ostensibly to rescue some female slaves from a cave, and then eventually fight another supreme warrioress for the title of warrioress. I think. Bloody spell check. Double-click Warrioress, right click, “ignore”.
There, that seems to have solved the red underline.
Much of the first half of the film deals with a lot of exposition in the form of an old woman foretelling of two swords – or something to that effect. Shades of Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet permeate the entire script – in particular, the dialogue. It’s not suggested when the story is set, and so we are led to believe that it’s possibly a long, long time ago. I’ll come back to this later in the review.
I’ll be honest, I was quite confused with the set-up and decided to roll with the beats. And beats are what the film has a multitude of. It’s obviously a case of scenery defining the narrative, and on this count the film delivers.
The production value of Warrioress is astounding – and better still, for any wannabe filmmakers out there, demonstrates with relative ease just how relatively easy and worthwhile it is to attain. I gather a lot of the film was shot in Epsom, Surrey – and the scenery there is utilised very well.
Coastlines make an appearance as well as a derelict Nazi-themed building (dressed up, naturally) and what seems to be the remains of a castle. I have no idea what the location was, but caught on a fortunate sunny day, really adds to the feel of the film. The costume design, and some of the set design, is inspired and well crafted.
The action sequences are really where the film shines. This is now Ross’ third feature film, and a lot has been learned from the previous two. The shooting and cutting of the frenetic action scenes are genuinely rewarding and, in particular spots – notably about twenty minutes in with a girl wielding a spiky ball and chain – the action scenes are most impressive.
Boyask wisely packs the picture with many of them, ranging from one-on-one style “come hither for an ass kicking” face offs, to gangs of black-dressed guard-types diving into an onslaught. If you’ve seen Ten Dead Men, you’d note the ambitious backflips, stunt work and associated physical mayhem. Here, it’s dialed up further and slowed down where necessary. The action scenes are terrific.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the script. Swathes of dialogue could easily have been excised to reduce the running time from its current 92 minutes down to an ultra accessible 80. But more than that, the running time isn’t the issue – it would tighten the lulls between the fights. And when the film lulls away from the action, it’s almost a near-parody of itself. Certain cast members, who will forever remain unnamed, are flat-out bad performers. They do look the part, for the most part, but some of the delivery is not on target.
It’s been shot on video, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears – particularly the latter – have obviously been employed to create this terribly ambitious movie. The latter of which has apparently fogged up the lens for the occasional out-of-focus shot. Obviously shot on a zero budget, this is precisely what has made it ambitious; Warrioress proves it is virtually impossible to craft something altogether near-perfect with a minimal budget. But that’s not to say it’s not a success. It is. I know I couldn’t pull this off; sticking to my middle-of-the-road dramas (one of which features Mr. Boyask in an extra capacity) is difficult enough, without having scantily clad Essex girls bouncing around and walloping each other in the nuts.
My last criticism are the accents of the characters. By turns awful and reasonably convincing – I said I’d return to the time this film was set – there is a none-too-subtle reminder that perhaps these characters, due to the nature of their accents, are possibly from 2009. Which unfortunately begs the question; when are the police going to get wind of them acting as medieval superstars and come and carry them away Monty Python and the Holy Grail style? Alas, ‘tis not the case. Warrioress is taking itself far too seriously for that. So seriously in fact, that around the midway point the movie employs its own musical song and dance segment courtesy of Ms. Fay. I acknowledge the intent of including this sequence but… sorry mate, that part flat-out doesn’t work for me.
If you’re an action junkie, and enjoy combat movies, I guarantee you will find a lot to enjoy here. On this kind of budget, and with this kind of determination, Boyask fancifully reveals that one can get REAL close to the real action article – and on that level, I enjoyed it.
Now, someone PLEASE give Ross a decent budget and take his pen away.
WARRIORESS is released on the 26th May 2014
Author: Andrew MacKay