Friday, 29 August 2014

Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood

I've always enjoyed adventure films, especially those either set in the Middle Ages or in completely fantasy based settings. I'm thinking of films such as The Lord of the Rings, Legend, The 13th Warrior, Conan the Barbarian, Braveheart, Dragonheart, the original Clash of the Titans and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (gotta love that track by Bryan Adams, right?). You know, films that just scream adventure, action and style. One film I thought I'd love was 2011's Iron Clad. It wasn't that I particularly hated it, but I just didn't see what all the fuss was about. Headlined by James Purefoy, the film had everything I usually love in these types of films, but I just didn't click with it. Now comes the sequel, Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood. I went into this film blindly. No trailers, no Wikipedia; nothing. In fact, I never knew it existed until it popped up on my CeX radar. But the question is... is it any good?

Directed by Jonathan English and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood, a sequel no one was asking for but we got anyway. Much like the original film, Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood also focuses much of its story and action around a castle siege, although this time it is entirely fictional compared to its predecessor’s somewhat historical depiction of the siege of Rochester Castle in 1215. With his Scottish castle under attack by Celts and the future of his people looking dire, English nobleman Gilbert de Vesci sends his son Hubert out into the world to find Guy de Lusignan, in the hope that Guy can help fight off the marauding Celts. Guy was in the first film, though this time he's played by a different actor. It's a simple story, but films like this don't need to be that heavy on narrative to be enjoyable. The problem with Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood doesn't reside with its story, but rather almost everything else.

As much as I didn't rave about the original Iron Clad, everything it did right is pretty much done wrong here. Firstly, this time around there aren't any big names. Before you had big names like Brian Cox and Paul Giamatti, and you could tell that they absolutely relished their roles, with Giamatti especially giving an incredibly bombastic performance. However, in Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood you have names likes Roxanne McKee, Danny Webb and Tom Austen. They're the “hey, I know him/her from that TV show/advert” kind of actors. I'm not belittling them as they do a decent job throughout, but the film is entirely populated by C-grade actors. Perhaps the only exception to this is the presence of Michelle Fairley, known to many of us as Catelyn Stark from Game of Thrones. Though I suspect she's only there in an attempt to bring in the Game of Thrones fans, as her role pretty much amounts to nothing. Truly a shame to see her so underutilised. 

The biggest problem here is the action. I may be spoiled in this department after recently watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The 13th Warrior, but in Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood the action is just awful. From dull set pieces, a complete yet crappy rehash of the original films climax, and worst of all an overuse of the dreaded “shaky cam”. This leads to the fights scenes being rather confusing at times, and while the original film did use shaky cam as well, it was used rather sparingly and to good effect. It might be due to its low budget, which ultimately puts certain limitations and constraints on the film, but the element that should fix your eyes on the screen just isn't there.

Overall Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood is awful. While the first one was a pretty enjoyable action flick with big names, this is an incredibly low-budget string of boring action scenes, cobbled together with bland scenes of exposition by actors who might see as Drunken Hobo #3 on some sitcom next week. It's worth a lazy watch with a takeaway because it's in the so-bad-it's-good category, but don't expect anything in the way of real entertainment.

Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood bleeds out and gets a 2/5.


Denis Murphy

Ironclad 2: Battle for Blood at CeX

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