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Featured DVD Review: Tales of an Ancient Empire

January 22nd, 2012

Tales of an Ancient Empire - Buy from Amazon or Video on Demand

Tales of an Ancient Empire is a direct-to-DVD Sword and Sorcerer adventure film starring Kevin Sorbo. It is actually a sequel to The Sword and the Sorcerer, which came out in 1982. The director, Albert Pyun, always wanted to make a sequel to that film, but it wasn't till 2007 that the script was done. And only now is it getting a release. I'm not expecting this film to stand up to Lord of the Rings, but is it at least a fun low-budget movie?

The Movie

The film begins with Hekate (Cazzy Golomb) telling the audience about a time of magic and adventure. She then gives a huge list of places and people and events. I hope there's not going to be a test later. As far as I could tell... In the land called Abelar, Queen Adonia is trying to hold onto power after her husband was assassinated by an evil sorcerer, Xuxia, and his daughter, Xia, a vampire. She hired mercenaries, Oda and two others, to travel to the Aisle of the Lost Souls and defeat these villains. When he confronts Xuxia and Xia, he kills the sorcerer, but then seduces his daughter. Out of this union a child was born, in an unconventional way. Xia quickly grew pregnant, but Oda cut out the baby and killed its mother. He sealed her ashes in a tomb, before abandoning his child and leaving.

The film picks up 20 years later with a group pirates finding the cave and accidentally unleashing Xia. Xia wants revenge, but Queen Adonia has passed away, so she will have to have her revenge on Queen Ma'at, Adonia's eldest daughter. And with that, the prologue is finally over and we get to the actual movie.

When the plot starts up again, two months after the end of the prologue, we find Kevin Sorbo as Aedan getting beat up for cheating at dice. He's rescued by Princess Tanis, his half-sister. She has come to ask him to help save Abelar by finding their father, Oda. He first asks for money and then tries to have sex with her. He eventually agrees to help her, but the money thing is non-negotiable. It turns out they have another half-sister (Oda got around) and this half-sister, Malia (Sarah Ann Schultz) might know where Oda is. No such luck. But Malia thinks their other half-sister, Rajan (Janelle Giumarra) might know.

That's it. I'm not describing the plot anymore, because every word I type is costing me IQ points, and soon I will be drooling on myself.

In the prologue, Oda says, "You realize how silly this looks?" You have no idea. This is beyond low expectations theater. This is beyond bad Boobs and Blood cinema. This is a movie for people who thought Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge was aiming too high. It moves far too slowly and has very little action of any real description, while the ending is so incredibly bad I had to watch it twice just to make sure I didn't miss something. The best parts are Kevin Sorbo playing the lecherous Aedan, while the four women he quests with (I never got to the introduction of Rajan's daughter, Alana (Inbar Lavi) in the plot description.) are an asset to the film, even if they are forced to deliver some terrible dialogue. Maybe I'll see them in some other movies that are better.

The Extras

The DVD includes a 38-minute long behind-the-scenes / interview featurette. It's better than the actual movie, but it's can't compensate for such a terrible movie.

The Verdict

Tales of an Ancient Empire starts out with a prologue that is too long and too confusing, there are a few bits of funny dialogue in the middle, but for the most part the main arc also moves too slowly, and then it ends in a way that is really bad, even compared to the rest of a bad movie. The DVD does have better than expected extras, but you should still avoid it.

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