J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The Knights of the Damned: Those Damn Knights


Across feudal cultures, the peasantry had one safeguard hard-wired into the collective unconscious: the notion that famine and disasters were a sign the monarch had lost their divine sanction to rule. You could be a horrible dictator, but you had to keep the serfs fed. It is therefore hard to believe a usurping prince would ever risk unleashing both a dragon rampage and a zombie apocalypse, simultaneously. Yet, that is exactly what the rightful king’s good-for-nothing son does in Simon Wells’ Knights of the Damned (trailer here), which releases today on DVD.

They were once part of a large war party, but now only four of the king’s knights still pursue the dragon as it wreaks destruction across the realm. Make that three knights. Killing dragons is onerous work, but it is generally expected of knights. Facing zombie hordes is something else entirely. They are going to need some stronger mead.

At first, they are skeptical of reports of the so-called “furies.” They really just what recharge at an inn before chasing after that blasted dragon again. It is there they meet a band of warrior women from the Katori Kingdom on a mission of vengeance, which they respect. The knights are not about to mess with them, unless they’re also interested in messing around a little. As a result, they will have a few battle-tested allies to fight the dragon, the zombies, and the usurper (but alas, Kunjue Li’s Kateya dies way too soon).

Knights might sound like sheer lunacy, but it is probably the cheapest looking, most meatheaded genre film that still manages to be fractionally watchable since Indo-porn star Priya Rai played a mummy in Isis Rising. Prince Favian’s evil scheming does not make an iota of sense, even if he is a member of a satanic death cult, as the epilogue suggests. Nor does it remotely believable the good Princess Elizabeth would openly take a gritty knight like Sir George as her lover, especially when her father had anointed her his rightful successor. Plus, it boggles the mind the knights who survive go through the entire film without figuring out they should maybe aim for the furies’ heads.

Nevertheless, you have to give Ben Loyd-Holmes (the bald one) and Ross O’Hennessy (the bearded one) credit, because they both totally look like fierce medieval warriors. They also have some screen presence as well as hack-and-slash cred. You could cast either of them in an Expendables movie with confidence.

The idea of the Katori warriors and the more-or-less equal time they get kicking fury-butt is also pretty cool. That is definitely our kind of progressive filmmaking. Unfortunately, the movie itself looks like it was produced with sets and props discarded by A Knight’s Tale and discovered in a local landfill. Yet, in all honesty, we would be tempted to cover the sequel as well, which is explicitly promised in that same nutty epilogue. Only recommended for micro-budget B-movie connoisseurs, Knights of the Damned releases today on DVD and BluRay.

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