In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)
By: Paul Ryan on September 25, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
United (Thailand). Region 3, NTSC. 2.35:1 (16:9 Enhanced). English DD 5.1, Thai DD 5.1. English, Thai subtitles. 127 minutes
The Movie
Director: Uwe Boll
Starring: Jason Statham, John Rhys-Davies, Leelee Sobieski, Ron Perlman, Burt Reynolds, Ray Liotta
Screenplay: Doug Taylor
Country: Germany/USA
External Links
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Another day, another Uwe Boll video game adaptation. This time, the good doctor has adapted the 2002 Fantasy Role Playing Game Dungeon Siege (which this reviewer has never played) and comes armed with a budget of sixty million dollars, a more-respectable-than-usual-cast, and action choreography from the guy behind the fights in Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Very, very obviously inspired by the Lord of The Rings films (right down to the Return of the King-like title, and casting of Gimli himself, John Rhys Davies, in a supporting role), In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale proves conclusively that bags of money can't buy style, class, or quality.

In the mystical kingdom of Ehb, a simple farmer, named – simply – Farmer (Jason Statham) finds his life of tilling fields and scaring crows with a boomerang turned upside down when rampaging creatures called Orcs – sorry, Krugs - ravage his village, kill his young son and abduct his wife (Claire Forlani). The creatures, controlled by evil magician Gallian (Ray Liotta. Yes, the same one from Goodfellas), are the foot soldiers in a plot to usurp the throne of Ehb by Fallow (Matthew Lillard) scheming nephew of monarch King Konried (Burt Reynolds… Hang on, what?!?!). Initally reluctant to join the King's forces (as he believes they only protect the castle, not the people) Farmer eventually (read: through story contrivance) comes round to the King's side, rallying the troops with such inspiring dialogue as "Tonight we dress our wounds, bury our dead. Tomorrow, we gouge evil from its shell!" Really, who knew evil lived in shells?

Lumbered with a screenplay containing the clunkiest would-be epic dialogue since Battlefield Earth, In The Name Of The King is an awkward mash-up of traditional fantasy and random, incongruous elements – ninjas, wire-fu, deathbed farming advice – that should be a hoot, but strangely isn't. Maybe it's the attempt at a serious tone, or that the big budget occasionally delivers some credible, genuine spectacle, but anyone expecting a so-bad-its-good laugh riot in the vein of Boll's infamous House of the Dead will be disappointed. The battle scenes – as you'd expect from wire-fu expert Tony Ching Siu-Tung - are actually pretty good, whilst most of the effects are serviceable – bar a few dreadfully obvious CGI shots – and Matthias Neuman's cinematography is probably the best camerawork in a Boll film to date.

Next to the script, what seriously lets the film down is the casting, which is another Boll-style hodgepodge of clashing acting - or over-acting or just plain non-acting - styles and sheer jaw-dropping miscasting. As with Sir Ben Kingsley in Bloodrayne, Reynolds cashes a cheque from Boll under a woefully unconvincing hairpiece while projecting a palpable disinterest in the proceedings. Or it might be that ill-advised facelift rendering his face immobile and inexpressive. Either way, this is one of the former megastar's worst ever performances. On the other extreme of the bad acting scale is Matthew Lillard. As Burt's nefarious nephew, Lillard doesn't so much chew the scenery as inhale it, spit it back out, slobber on it, roll in it and then repeat the process over and over. Twitching, shrieking, snarling and roaring his dialogue, Lillard has to be seen to be disbelieved. At least (unlike Reynolds) he seems to be having a good time. Somewhere in the middle comes the usually respectable Ray Liotta. Liotta seems entirely too contemporary for such a mythic fantasy setting, but at least seems committed to what he's doing, even when that comes down to cackling "heh-heh-heh" repeatedly.

The rest of the cast seem to have been left to their own devices - I doubt anyone would ever call Boll an actor's director - and perform accordingly. Jason Statham is, well, Jason Statham, which is never a bad thing. Though he does seem visably pained by his dialogue in the family scenes (and who could blame him?), he's got his usual rugged charisma and handles the fight scenes with typical aplomb. John Rhys Davies – who admitted during production that he took that part just to pay for rennovations on his house! – and Ron Perlman are doggedly professional. Both have done far, far worse than this. As Staham's wife, Claire Forlani smiles, weeps and bats her eyelashes fetchingly, easily outshone by an intense Leelee Sobieski, who makes the most of her underwritten part as Davies' daughter. Boll veterans Will Sanderson (as Forlani's brother) and Kristana Loken (as a vine-swinging wood nymph) have nothing much to do, and in return give pretty much zero on the effort scale.
Presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (unlike some other releases, which have cropped the film to 1.78:1), this is a fine anamoprhic transfer with excellent detail and colour. However, this does mean that the lesser CGI shots really jump out at you, but that's a fault of the VFX team, not the transfer.
In addition to a top-notch Dolby 5.1 English track, you get the option of viewing the film in Thai, what with this being a Thai DVD of the film and all. Admittedly, I only sampled the Thai track, but I have to give props to the guy who dubbed John Rhys Davies for sounding remarkably like the real thing. The inevitable downside – or not, depending on your taste – of the English track is that all that dreadful dialogue comes through perfectly clear, as do the appalling German raaaaaaawwwk songs in the end credits.
Extra Features
This Region 3 release is more or less a direct port of its Region 1 cousin – missing out on the Director's Commentary present on the UK release as a result – and has a small smattering of forgettable extras.

Behind the Scenes Featurette (10.20m): Like similar featurettes on the discs of Bloodrayne and House of The Dead, this is a ramble of fly-on-the-wall B-roll footage from the production, with little to tie it together. You get glimpses of scenes being shot, actors rehearsing and Boll ordering people around, but no interviews or linking narration. You do however get to see Ron Perlman attempting to kiss Will Sanderson a couple of times. Also, in his few seconds of screen time here, Burt Reynolds looks more animated than he does in the actual film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (9.32m): "Wow," I hear you gasp. "Scenes so bad that Uwe Boll wouldn't use them???!!?" Actually, there's nothing much going on here. Two very slighly extended scenes (one featuring an alternate fate for one character) and one short bit that was likely cut because Will Sanderson's acting was even flatter than in the rest of the film. All the footage is presented in 1.78:1 and the extra bits often have inconsistent colour timing, suggesting they were cut early on.

Theatrical Trailer (1.29m): Short, simple and highlighing that stupid "evil shell" line.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Not the worst fantasy film you'll see this year – hello Highlander: The Source – but too long-winded to be the camp classic you'd at least hope for, this might be passable brain-in-neutral, rainy-day viewing for those so inclined. There's hokey dialogue, dumb characters and slumming name actors galore, but it's still reasonably painless to get through. United's DVD is a decent package for anyone eager to get the film at a decent exchange rate.

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