In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008) (part 1 of 2)
Welcome to the second installment of Guaranteed Razzie Contenders: 2009 Edition! In this special series of reviews and mini-recaps, the Agony Booth staff takes a long, unflinching look at the awful movies that are sure to be nominated for Razzie Awards in 2009!
Check out the other recap in this series: The Love Guru by Ed Harris!
I’ve never seen an Uwe Boll movie before, and I’ve never even heard of the game that In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is based on. So I walked into this movie a complete blank slate. Was I let down? Eh, sort of.
This is easily one of the most watchable films I’ve seen for this site, in the sense that there’s so much insanity going on that I was always eager to see just how low Boll could sink in the next scene. And just check out the cast: Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman, Matthew Lillard, and Burt Reynolds [!] as the titular king.
So that means we have Turkish, Henry Hill, Sallah, Hellboy, Shaggy, and Turd Ferguson, all in one movie! Although, with only a couple of exceptions, they all go through the film with a glazed look in their eyes that says, “Only a few more scenes, then I can pick up my check and get back to my real career.” But their boredom is our fun, so let’s dive in.
The movie is set in a fantasy world called “Ehb” (really reaching down deep for that one, guys!), ruled by King Konreid (Burt Reynolds, in one of the more miscast roles) who lost his son a few decades ago. Now his heir is his nephew Duke Fallow (Matthew Lillard, even more over the top than usual).
Lillard is secretly allied with an evil wizard, or “Magus” as they’re called here, named Gallian (Ray Liotta, also wildly miscast). They both conspire to kill his uncle King Burt, so that Duke Lillard can assume the throne. Although, seeing as how Burt Reynolds looks about ready to be embalmed in this film, you have to wonder why he can’t just wait a few years.
Liotta is also having an affair with Murriella (Leelee Sobieski), the daughter of the king’s own Magus, Merik (John Rhys-Davies). The film starts with Liotta and Leelee in bed together, and Liotta talks about how her powers are increasing, which is represented by… various pointless cutaways to CGI landscapes. None of it means anything; it’s just Uwe Boll showing off.
Now we meet our star, Jason Statham, playing a character named “Farmer”, because he’s a turnip farmer, and he thinks a man should become his job, or some crap like that. It doesn’t matter, because it’s the same character Statham always plays, so I’ll just call him Turkish. And as you might imagine, the character of Turkish is completely out of place in a pseudo-medieval fantasy setting.
Turkish’s weapons are a sword and, oddly enough, a boomerang, which I can only assume is from the game, but the CGI makes the boomerang look exactly like the chakram from Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were going for. And while they take great pains to explain why this turnip farmer is so good with a boomerang (he uses it to scare birds away from his crops) we get nothing on why he’s such a good swordsman.
While he and his son pick turnips, Farmer’s friend Norrik (Ron Perlman) arrives, and for some reason he has a pig on a leash. He then brings up the possibility of joining the king’s army, but Turkish won’t hear of it. Turkish is just too happy being a farmer and being happy with his wife (Claire Forlani) and son and everyone is happy, happy, happy. Can anybody guess what’s about to happen to this complacent family unit?
Also in this scene, we learn that Turkish was found abandoned in this village when he was a boy. Combine this with the fact that King Burt mysteriously lost his son, and I think we can all see where this is going.
The next day, the village is attacked by the Krugs, this movie’s requisite Orc-type monster. So if you were trying to come up with a lamer name for an Orc-type monster than “Urgal”, this one’s taken. In an earlier scene, we learned that Krugs are just mindless monsters, but recently they’ve started using weapons and armor, due to Ray Liotta magically controlling them.
Liotta is even able to possess one of the Krugs and lead the others, though if they really do have no intelligence, I don’t know how that’s supposed to work. The bigger issue is that we never find out why Liotta’s attacking this village in the first place. I can’t figure out a reason, other than he’s eeeevil, and they need a way to get Turkish into the story.
The end result of the attack is that Turkish’s son is killed, and his wife goes missing. There’s a really goofy burial scene where Turkish and Ron Perlman are piling dirt in a hole with completely blank expressions, while the music just keeps building and building, until you just have to laugh at it all.
Afterwards, King Burt finally shows up at the village with his soldiers, and Turkish quite justifiably rips him a new one, saying that the king’s army should protect the entire kingdom, and not just the castle. One of the soldiers, Tarish [Editor’s Note: It’s Brian J. White, Tavon from The Shield! —Albert], decides to be an asshole about this, getting all “how dare you insult your king, who just left you all to die?”
So Turkish decides to set off with his brother in law (who’s never really important, but it should be noted that he’s Miles from Boll’s earlier film Alone in the Dark) and Ron Perlman to try and find Turkish’s wife. But before they go, the king’s Magus goes up to them and literally just keeps stepping in their way, finally giving them some needlessly cryptic words about how they’re more important than they think. There’s really no reason for him to be so mysterious about this, but whatever pads the plot out.
King Burt arrives back at the castle and is secretly poisoned by Liotta. However, Liotta didn’t let Duke Lillard in on the plan, so Lillard eats the same food and gets poisoned too. Luckily, Liotta gives him the antidote. And then the king’s Magus is able to immediately cure King Burt with magic, so a nice big plot cul-de-sac all around.
But this gets the king’s Magus suspicious of Lillard for some reason, so Lillard runs off with a whole battalion of soldiers, telling them the king has ordered them to follow him. When one of them asks why they aren’t hearing this directly from the king himself, Lillard stabs him in the gut with a dagger and bellows, “Does anyone else want to commit treason?” None of the men question this. Later on, they’ll find out Lillard has led them into an alliance with the Krugs, and they still won’t try to put up a fight. Come on, it’s one guy with a dagger; I think you guys can take him!
Getting back to Turkish and the gang, they have to cross a rope bridge. But the bridge has been cut down, leaving just one rather convenient rope for them to slide across like a zip line. Bizarrely, Uwe Boll plays this whole thing for slapstick laughs. Turkish’s son has just died, and he doesn’t know if his wife is still alive or not; is this really the time for wacky buddy comedy antics?
Then they enter a forest where they’re attacked by a bunch of… acrobatic women swinging from vines. I think the implication is that they’re elves, which is slightly undermined by their leader, the 5’11” Kristanna Loken (star of Boll’s BloodRayne). She gives a big speech about how they avoid humans because they’re naturally destructive, and “the fact that you don’t realize it just makes you more dangerous.” So out of nowhere we’ve got Boll lecturing us on man’s inhumanity to man. This from a guy who also made a comedy where he cameos as himself and pays his employees with the gold teeth of Holocaust victims. Not to mention how he starts another one of his films with five straight minutes of real footage of animals being tortured.
And it doesn’t even work in-universe, because Turkish is just a turnip farmer who was actively avoiding joining the army, and saying farming is all he wants to do. So in the end, Loken is yet another supposed “good guy” that I quickly grew to hate. Plus, we get zero background on just who these giant “elves” are, and why they’re in the movie, but more on that later.
After this, Turkish and the gang find the Krugs and try to sneak into their camp, but despite swiping some armor and everything, they’re all quickly captured. Lamest fantasy heroes ever.