Guardian of the Realm (2004)
By: Craig Villinger on January 24, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Thinkfilm (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.85:1 (Non-anamorphic). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. Spanish Subtitles. 110 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ted Smith
Starring: Glen Levy, Tanya Dempsey, Lana Piryan, Tom Seymour, Stephanie Kane, Tracy Erickson, Chris Sheets
Screenplay: Ted Smith, Wyatt Weed
Music: Andrew Waggoner
Tagline: There's bad blood between good and evil
Country: USA
Most of us don't know it yet, but demons are among us! Have no fear though boys and girls, because we are protected from these forces of darkness by CORE - a secretive society of demon slayers who have been holding off the otherworldly onslaught for centuries, and doing a pretty good job of it!

Our story kicks off in Los Angeles in "the near future" where the balance of power between good and evil may soon be changing thanks to The Brotherhood, a bunch of bored businessmen who dress up in fancy cloaks and practice demonic rituals after a hard day at the office. While piss farting around one night in their cheesy underground lair The Brotherhood manages to summon the spiritual force of something called Virago, a powerful and very nasty demon which promptly inhabits the body of the group's voluptuous European assistant (Lana Piryan) and begins the quest to regain its true form, which will ultimately lead to hell on earth, or something similarly unpleasant. CORE soon learns of Virago's summoning, and Guardians Josh Griffin (Glen Levy) and Alex Marlowe (Tanya Dempsey) are despatched to follow the trail of clues leading to the demon's lair and kick it's arse back to wherever the hell it came from.

Despite a limited budget which couldn't quite match the ambitions of its director, Guardian of the Realm is an engaging sci-fi, action, horror, and monster movie pastiche with obvious influences from the Blade films, rubber suit action flicks like The Guyver, and a healthy dose of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It harkens back to the glory days of straight to video Entertainment when we were seeing cheap but charming romps like Future Cop – films which could be as entertaining as the sci-fi action stuff coming from the major studios, but were made at fraction of the cost.

B-movie aficionados will be pleased to learn that Guardian of the Realm contains all the key elements needed to create a satisfactory viewing experience. Crammed into this good vs. evil tale are demons with pointy horns jutting from their foreheads, occasional glimpses of female nudity, seedy motel room sex, girl-on-girl grape feeding, junk food references, and messy gore effects including several decapitations and a blood spurting heart removal, all of which add significant entertainment value, however the films main drawcard is its action scenes. Although the fisticuffs and swordplay only account for a small portion of the running time, what we do get is spectacularly choreographed and well executed for such a low budget feature. Glen Levy - who is one of New Zealand's premiere stunt performers - demonstrates some great moves with both hands and feet, particularly during back-to-back swordfights in the final act, which will hopefully see him go on to bigger and better things, while Dempsey – who is essentially playing a grown up Buffy – kicks loads of demon arse and looks jaw-droppingly sexy while doing so.

Some of the set dressings are hokey (Virago's lair looks like it was filled with every clichéd occult trinket the set designers could get their hands on) and the acting isn't always top shelf (Piryan is terrible to be honest, but she does wear a deliciously revealing outfit!) yet most of the characters are likeable, with Dempsey and Levy in particular having a great rapport. Dialogue takes up a large chink of the movie, but with an amiable core group of characters well written dialogue the proceedings never get boring. Another downside is poor CGI, but thankfully, apart from the cheapish looking apocalyptic finale, the computer effects aren't too distracting.

Guardian of the Realm is cheap and cheesy, but it's also a lot of fun, and if you can shake the feeling that you are watching a gory, sexed-up episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer you'll probably enjoy it.
Guardian of the Realm has been given an average DVD transfer. Presented in a 1.85 aspect ratio without 16:9 enhancement, the picture is very soft and a little blurry at times, while fuzzy low level noise is visible during most of the darker moments.
The audio fares a little better. We have our choice of 5.1 or 2.0 audio options, and while there isn't a whole lot of difference between the two, the 5.1 track does offer a slightly richer soundtrack. Dialogue and sound effects are kept to the front of the soundstage for the most part; however music and subtle ambient noises can occasionally be heard sneaking through the rear channels. Dialogue is always crisp and easy to understand, and the loud gunfire packs a punch.
Extra Features
An animated menu which features Dempsey and Levy striking their best "don't fuck with me!" poses leads us to nothing more than scene selection and audio set-up menus as well as trailers for Guardian of the Realm, The Zodiac, Awesome… I Shot That, and The Choke.
The Verdict
With its somewhat unique blend of science fiction, action, fantasy, horror, and hard boiled detective fiction, Guardian of the Realm is a thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended b-movie. The DVD presentation leaves room for improvement, but I doubt we'll be seeing a bona fide special edition release anytime soon, so for now, this is as good as it gets.
Movie Score
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