In the 2015 film ‘Sword of Vengeance’, now on Netflix, Stanley Weber plays a vengeful stranger who, known only to the subjects of an unmerciful oppressor as Shadow Walker, returns to his home of the Norman conquered Saxon lands after the Battle of Hastings. While his mysterious past remains hidden by his thirst for blood, he leads the feral locals against their tyrant in a quest for freedom.
This British action film based in history, directed by Jim Weedon and written by Matthew Read and Julian Unthank, strives to deliver a cinematographic masterpiece with tone, deep characters, intense battle scenes, and stunning visuals. It is very noticeable that there is a lot of heart and hard work put into the making of this film, unfortunately over all the film only delivers on a select few items. Director Jim Weedon does a remarkable job of setting the tone of the film, showing the misery and bleakness of the time by filling the screen with gray sky. It helps in capturing the essence of the time period and the mood of the characters. The carnage and barrage of action in the battles is caught impressively with the camera and looks truly realistic. Great training went into choreographing the fights and getting it filmed and it shows. The actors themselves give their complete selves to their roles. Stanley Weber looks the part as the mysterious and ferocious warrior Shadow Walker. He isn’t given much to do except grunt and deliver amazing action sequences. Milica Jevtic is impressive and inspiring as Udela, the unyielding female leader of the villagers who sees the potential in the enigmatic Shadow Walker to lead her people to freedom. Even the villainous tyrant Durant, played by Karel Roden and his two sons, fearfully played by Edward Akrout and Gianni Giardinelli, take pitifullness and depravity to a new level. Everyone tries so hard to be believable in their roles and enticing you with their performances, you just wish they were in another movie.
The plot is so rushed and derivative. You never really get any true back stories or time to spend with the characters so that you can actually care if any of them die. The origin of Shadow Walker is given in only a few flashbacks until near the very end and by the time you figure out what his motives are, never his name, you don’t really care. Yet out of nowhere Udela comes out with a story told through out the village acknowledging she knows who he is. The back story of how Shadow Walker escaped from slavery and became such a ferocious warrior alone could have improved on the film, yet the writers had apparently deemed that too was unimportant. Durant is so ruthless he doesn’t even show respect to his sons, yet his sons are constantly at each others throats, which just makes the characters annoying, evil yes, but annoying daddy boys vying for affection. It takes away from the fear viewers should have of them. Once it is all done viewers are left wondering if all the fighting was worth it, especially since Shadow Walker seems not to truly care about anyone else except for his own revenge, and he sacrifices a lot of people to obtain it. When he does show some redeeming qualities it just seems too little, and by then you don’t feel like he is any kind of hero. How can you enjoy a movie where the hero is just as selfish as the villains?
‘Sword of Vengeance’ is one of those movies that has so much potential to be amazing but instead is just a dreary action film. The plot seems pointless and it is left to the actors and the director’s shots to move the film along, and they can only help so much. For most film fans they will find ‘Sword of Vengeance’ a disaster of a film, to others it may be something to check out when you’re bored and just need a battle heavy action film.