Monday the 11th of July sees the release DVD and Blu-ray release of Ironclad which is an action fueled gory medieval drama based on true events with a whole load of added made up fiction thrown in to give it more cinematic appeal. From director Jonathan English and starring James Purefoy, Paul Giamatti and Brian Cox, this is Ironclad.
The story is set in the 13th Century and is about the bloody siege of Rochester Castle by King John (Giamatti) and his minions against a Templar knight named Marshall (Purefoy), Baron Albany (Cox) and his stubborn, battle hardened group of warrior buddies. This collective group of warriors hold out for months against the unrelenting onslaught from King John’s rebel army whose one goal is to take the Keep of Rochester that will lead King John to rule the southeast of Britain.
The film sticks to a simple idea: A few-against-many plot, decapitations and graphic gore whenever possible, enjoyable characters you root for that probably end up dying by the end and King John enjoyably ranting throughout. Together it all works nicely with the bunch of ragtag fighters fending of the attacks of King John’s army using tactics rather than strength. The gore comes constantly in the battle scenes and in impressively graphic ways with heads flying off and limbs being hacked free and bodies being split in half with huge broad swords which adds to the enjoyment. The bunch of fighters all have your generic mix of personalities with a slightly crazy one, an huge hard arse warrior type, a young inexperienced lad, a loud mouthed killing machine etc and then there’s King John played sublimely by the excellent Paul Giamatti. But is this enough to make the film succeed? Not really, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun and well worth a watch.
The problem with the film is that there are some very slow moments in between some of the battles and these moments mainly involve the utter nonsense of including a love interest for the Knight Templar Marshall with the irritating and rather pointless Lady Isabel (Kate Mara). Their romance seemed so false and wedged in to try add a bit of femininity to the story and almost ruins the momentum that was so excellently created by the battle scenes. This problem was infuriatingly equaled by the irritating over use of the dreaded shaky cam technique to try and make the battle scenes more ‘realistic’ with a documentary stylisation to add “real sense of action” to the fights. It unfortunately ruins some tense moments and just made me want to shake my head around rapidly to try and synchronize with the movement on screen to try make sense of all the excellent fight choreography that deserved a clearer presentation on screen.
Praise does have to be given to Paul Giamatti, who apparently filmed all his scenes in just 7 days, he is easily the most enjoyable aspect in the movie as he delivers some cracking lines and a truly despicable character. Brian Cox also delivers a creditable performance and stands out amongst the good guys, especially towards the end of the film in a very disturbing moment that was equally difficult to watch as it was powerful.
The DVD quality is of a good standard and I can only imagine that the Blu-ray version would show off the gore in even more clearer detail but apart from that there are no extras of any kind unless you need to add subtitles to the film. Very disappointing.
Ironclad is released on DVD and Blu-ray today.