Warrior Angels Review
Upon the completion of the
third Holy War of the Crusades, Elizabeth of Cooke returns to her home to find
that the village has been seiged by a warlord named Grekkor, played with a
delightful hint of psychosis by Rutger Hauer ("Batman Begins", "Sin City"). It
seems that Grekkor's father gave all his land to the church upon his death,
believing Grekkor to be undeserving. So when Richard the Lionhearted led most of
the fighting men out of England, he gathered together his own warriors from
society's dregs and reclaimed his land.
Resolving to get her son back -- whom she has not seen for the past year -- Elizabeth sets out on her own to take on Grekkor and his men. Along the way, she collects to herself three other women: Hunter, an eager archer played by Molly Culver (V.I.P.) who rescues Elizabeth from a group of rogues; Eve, a whore with an eye for gold, brought to life by Charlotte Avery; and Sybil -- Rimante Valiukaite -- a gypsy woman with more powders and potions in her pockets than Batman has in his utility belt. Together, these four are prepared to approach Grekkor's camp and snare Elizabeth's son away.
But her son, Peter, has been taken under Grekkor's wing. In about the space of five minutes he goes from still waiting for his mother, to believing her dead, to ready to turn against her at Grekkor's say-so. It's a role that isn't played very well; surely there was a better child actor somewhere in Hollywood -- or Hoboken. Peter has been learning how to fight from Grekkor's new champion, a slave named Luke (Arnold Vosloo -- "The Mummy", 24) who learned how to fight during his job as a royal guard.
Joanna Pacula ("Tombstone") plays Elizabeth with an accent that is sometimes British, sometimes Scottish, sometimes Russian, and never convincing. However, at least she takes on an accent. Aside from the Romanian accent used by Valiukaite for her character, the rest of the cast speaks with a distinctly American tongue, making "Crusade of Vengeance" less edge-of-your-seat and more Xena: Warrior Princess, only not quite as on purpose as the Lucy Lawless series. The only convincing roles are pulled off by Hauer and John Vernon ("Sorority Boys", "Animal House") who plays Grekkor's right-hand man, Ansgar.
Grekkor, backed up by Luke, is alerted to an attack on his
L-R: HAUER, VOSLOO
The costuming is well-done, but in all candor the Capitol One credit card barbarians make more believable fighters than do the rabble who comprise Grekkor's merry band. And the entire band of extras seems to be comprised solely of those aged thirty and up, making Peter stand out all the more and providing an appropriate MST3K moment when Elizabeth prepares to send Eve into the camp to grab him while she and Hunter stage a diversion:
Eve: How will we know it's Peter?
Elizabeth: You'll know. He's perfect. He's an angel.
Uhm, how about he's the only person in the camp 4 feet tall?
Elizabeth and company rally the townsfolk to join them in
rising up against Grekkor.
L-R: CULVER, VALIUKAITE, PACULA, AVERY
Eve's character makes for some nice comic relief. Sybil is their deus ex machina, and Hunter is largely there to take up space and shoot the occasional arrow. But unlike "Thelma and Louise" or Cleopatra 2525, or any other of the many "women kicking butt" films, this foursome of chicks in chain mail still wind up relying on the help of a man (Vosloo) since Elizabeth admittedly lacks any capacity for strategy. (At least she doesn't say "Math is hard!" when you pull her string.) The women ride quickly home to set an ambush for Grekkor, using their few remaining hours to train the villagers to use a bow, engage in hand-to-hand combat, and find the right herbs in the field for Sybil's potions.
With an expedited plot that finishes exactly the way you'd think it would (with several meanderings you'll find hard to believe it took), "Crusade of Vengeance" (alternately billed as "Warrior Angels") won't be winning any Oscars.
Rated-R for violence, some nudity, and a rape scene.