Tuesday, 11 January 2011

HELLMAN: REIGN OF DEATH (aka GUARDIAN OF THE REALM) (2004)

An above-average cast, some very ambitious action sequences and a lot of ideas make this urban- fantasy indie flick more entertaining than it should be. It's cheap, shot on digital video, filled with unknowns and about as cheesy as it gets, but it has a great deal of charm. Basically a Greatest Hits package of everything in the Urban Fantasy genre, this fun little film tells the story of two paranormal enforcement badasses and the agency they work for going to war against a bunch of demons.

There are many similarities with Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Charmed and the novels of everyone from Laurel K. Hamilton to Jim Butcher, which makes for a film that is certainly rather different to most indie attempts at fantasy/horror. The makers of the film evidently went to great lengths to make it as exciting and entertaining as possible, bringing us essentially Buffy with more gore, violence and sex.

It harkens back to a more adventurous era of independent horror, while also paying homage to the recent mass of interest in the urban fantasy genre. The acting is poor to decent, the effects are cheap and cheerful (but very well executed) and the script is very comic-bookish, but there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes.

Demons, vampires, werewolves, martial arts, blood, cool weapons, a villainess basically dressed as Witchblade and an attractive cast all add up to some good, silly fun. It's a shame this didn't have a bigger budget, as this is exactly the sort of Urban Fantasy that should be getting all the interest instead of tosh like Twilight.

(But why the stupid UK retitling? The original title is just fine!)

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