Successful films spawn imitations. When the imitation has a decently skilled filmmaker at the helm, you might end up with something decent. When the imitation only exists to exploit loopholes in the German tax code, you get In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.
Tagline: Rise and fight
More Accurate Tagline: Rise and farm
Guilty Party: Let me get this out of the way right at the top: Uwe Boll could kick my ass. I mean, of course he can. I’m scared of mannequins. I sweat when I think about eating. My main hobby is sitting down. Uwe Boll, under the assumption that fighting prowess makes him a good director, once challenged his most brutal critics to a boxing match. He won, of course, because on the world of film criticism, I’m Bruce Lee. Boll produced and directed In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, leaving his skidmarks all over it. And yes, Dr. Boll. You could beat me in a fight. And the resulting film of me begging for my life would still be less embarrassing than this piece of crap.
Synopsis: There are a shit ton of characters in this movie, and for the most part they have pretty standard fantasy names. I thought about learning them, but fuck that. I have things to do.
Anyway, Ray Liotta and Leelee Sobieski make out on a bed. It’s just as disturbing as it sounds because Liotta is like sixty and Leelee looks like she should be babysitting his granddaughter. He informs her that her powers are developing (hooray for puberty, am I right?), and she doesn’t want her father to know she and Liotta are knocking boots. This filled me with relief, because I’ve been watching Game of Thrones and just assumed Liotta was her father.
Meanwhile, out on a cliff, John Rhys-Davies shouts, “This is madness, [Ray Liotta]!” And then disappears. I… I just don’t know.
At this point, Boll remembers, oh yeah, those Lord of the Rings movies were pretty good, and there was a Shire or something, so the happy hobbit music kicks in and Jason Statham is pullin’ up turnips with his kid. Jason Statham’s name in the film is “Farmer.” Why? Because, according to his wife Claire Forlani, he thinks people should be called what they are. Curiously, he does not refer to everyone else in the film as Douchetard.
Claire Forlani takes the kid off to the nearby town of Stonebridge to sell the harvest and visit her parents, Claire Forlani’s Parents, and her brother, Blond Guy. Then, simultaneously at Statham’s farm and Stonebridge, krugs attack! What the hell is a krug? Well, try to imagine if a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle with cerebral palsy tried to dress up as an orc for Halloween and you have a basic idea. So anyway, krugs attack Statham, but they quickly learn they could not have possibly fucked with a worse person. Statham has so much karate in him, it explodes out of him in something that can only be called a karate supernova, leaving krugs scattered, dead, and unconscious.
Sensing that there are still more krugs that do not yet know him as the harbinger of genocide for their misbegotten species, he rushes off to his best friend Ron Perlman’s farm, also under attack. Perlman, far from being helpless, is mercilessly killing krugs with Perlmanian abandon. This cements the first law of this fantasy universe: farmers are unstoppable killing machines.
Statham and Ron Perlman ride over to Stonebridge to find it in flames, krugs slaughtering the local citizenry. Statham has had enough of this bullshit, and goes after the leader, who sort of looks like if one of the guys from Gwar dressed up like a nazgul. When that one’s dead, suddenly there are like eight other ones, and it’s really confusing and stupid. Oh, and all of the nazgul are actually Ray Liotta’s avatars or something. One of these kills Claire Forlani’s Parents, and then chases down and murders Statham’s kid, while krugs abduct Claire Forlani.
After the battle, King Burt Reynolds, his sidekick Commander Tavon, and the king’s magus John Rhys-Davies, show up to ask for recruits into the army. This is not the best timing, guys. “Hey, who wants to join the organization that totally just let your loved ones get killed and abducted?” Statham, sensing his karate is about to escape on innocents, takes Ron Perlman and Blond Guy to murder the shit out of some krugs and maybe rescue Claire Forlani.
Statham, Ron Perlman, and Blond Guy wander through some woods where they encounter Kristanna Loken and her merry band of tree lesbians. Accompanied by falling leaves, living vines, and Enya, they do a little obligatory rant about how men are destructive or whatever. But then she lets them go and leads them to some krugs. Under the impression that these men are helpless soldiers, the krugs attack. The farmers unceremoniously butcher the poor krugs, and sneak into camp where they are knocked unconscious and captured.
King Burt Reynolds has more problems than just weaponized farmers. His nephew, Duke Matthew Lillard is a treacherous worm attempting to usurp the throne with the aid of Ray Liotta. I’m unclear on what’s in it for Ray Liotta, but he poisons the king, and Matthew Lillard flees from the castle to hook up with his krug buddies. John Rhys-Davies lets King Burt Reynolds know what happened. Because dying from poison is for Greek philosophers and other pussies, King Burt Reynolds gets out of bed and goes to kick Lillard’s ass.
Anyway, Ron Perlman and Blond Guy are carted off to Isengard, while one of the nazgul tries to lynch a hogtied Jason Statham. Stupid nazgul. Lynching is how women signal their sexual interest in Statham! This scene ends like every one of Statham’s dates: with the nazgul dead on the ground and Statham clutching a sword between his legs. John Rhys-Davies rides up just then (meaning even if Statham couldn’t get out, JRD could have immediately rescued him), and takes Statham back to the king’s camp.
JRD reveals that Statham is Burt Reynolds’s long lost son, which makes me wondering what anvil-jawed and balding woman Burt Reynolds has been fucking. What, did he conceive Statham with an uppercut? Did he impregnate a bottle of whiskey? Can pure nitroglycerin even carry a child to term? The movie zips us over to a battle between Burt Reynolds, Statham, Commander Tavon and the outnumbered humans against the huge army of retarded krugs and Matthew Lillard. The humans win, but Lillard manages to hit King Burt Reynolds with an arrow before fleeing.
Lillard finds Leelee Sobieski (who has since broken up with Ray Liotta, and frustrated with a talking mirror — seriously — has ridden off to do… something) in the woods and is mid-gloat when the tree lesbians show up and capture him. Leelee brings Lillard back to camp just in time for the king to die. Lillard declares himself king, but JRD steps in and reveals that Statham is the true king. Matthew Lillard abruptly vanishes from the narrative. Seriously. He’s just gone.
Now with only Ray Liotta and his army of krugs threatening the land (and still holding Claire Forlani hostage), an elite group consisting of Statham, JRD, Leelee Sobieski, and Kristanna Loken, will sneak into the castle, kill Ray Liotta and rescue Claire Forlani. This leaves Commander Tavon to fight the remainder of the krugs. The plan goes pretty well, even though JRD dies, and the two ladies do absolutely nothing to help. Oh yeah, and Ron Perlman died in an escape attempt earlier, but the movie barely cares.
Life-Changing Subtext: Farm subsidies are the blood sacrifice we use to placate the ruthless murder machines in the flyover states.
Defining Quote: Right as Statham accepts the crown, he delivers his inspirational speech which culminates in this line: “Tomorrow we march on Cristwind Hold. And gouge evil from its shell!” As he says this, an extra can be dimly heard screaming: “GOUGE EVIL!”
Standout Performance: Uwe Boll believes in the philosophy of free range actors. He could not possibly give less of a fuck about what they want to do. Many actors take this as a license to sleep through a film. Not Matthew Lillard. His performance is like getting screamed at by a drunk college student who just got back from a semester abroad in England. You know that guy, “I’m so empathetic, I pick up accents without meaning to.” Bullshit, Tyler. You’re using English slang and that shaky accent for the same reason any American does: to seem more interesting. And fail.
What’s Wrong: Uwe Boll is the master of assembling great casts, yet not for the movie he is actually making at the time. Burt Reynolds should never play a king unless the word “mattress” comes first. Ray Liotta, always a reliable presence in mob movies, here looks lost. Doesn’t help that he’s dressed in a blousy green shirt and black leather trenchcoat that makes him look like a recently divorced lawyer on the prowl for some twenty year old with daddy issues. Which he sort of got. So maybe this is actually a point in the movie’s favor.
When doing a fantasy film, it’s of vital importance that the world feel real. Consistency is key, especially with regard to accents. It’s a silly trope of the genre, but American accents just aren’t convincing coming out of the mouths of knights and wizards. Statham can at least do an English accent. But here’s the weird thing. His wife, the British born Claire Forlani, speaks in a fake American accent. Why? Her husband has an accent! Where the fuck did he find it?
Flash of Competence: Jason Statham is one of our best modern action stars. He brings a ton to the table, he always gives you the same performance, and he will look good in the fight scenes. Even Uwe Boll can’t make Statham suck.
Best Scenes: Burt Reynolds has ninjas. No other way to put it. They’re not mentioned and only barely acknowledged. They show up in the battle sequence as elite troops who seem far more into climbing trees than actually fighting or anything. But the real joy is seeing Burt Reynolds react to them with a mixture of confusion and disgust.
Transcendent Moment: I don’t really expect filmmakers to have a functional knowledge of Medieval warfare. I mean, when someone tells archers to “fire,” I just grin and bear it. Still, there are some things that a relatively intelligent person should figure out.
So there’s this scene where the krugs and humans are facing off in the middle of some woods. No fortified positions or anything, just a couple armies ready to get wet. The krugs brought catapults. You know, those things used to lay siege to castles. I mean, they’re not totally worthless against an army, but they’re pretty far from ideal. I’m willing to give Boll a pass.
Until the krugs start loading themselves into the catapults. Only they realize this isn’t yet insane enough to work. So they set these krugs on fire and launch them at the enemy.
A couple problems with this plan. Assuming the krugs don’t hit the intervening trees, which are everywhere, this being a forest, and assuming they survive the fall, and assuming they actually hit an enemy, they might, just might, get one guy. But not more than that. Since they’re burning to death.
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is awful. Do yourself a favor and watch Crank again.