Available to buy on DVD or VOD 15 June
Running time: 85 Mins
Heavenly Sword is the feature length movie adaptation of its million selling PlayStation 3 namesake. The game was near enough a launch title for the console and pre-dates the movie by a few years. It’s a story of revenge, as the evil King Bohan seeks the power of the titular Heavenly Sword. He is led to the tribe who’s destiny it is to watch over the weapon and keep it from falling in to the wrong hands. This so happens to be the tribe Nariko is part of. Nariko is the daughter of the tribes elder, and as the power mad Bohan attacks the tribe, she is told to take the sword and flee. Unbeknownst (or ignorant to the fact, would be more apt) to Nariko’s father, she’s a dab hand with a sword, and coupled with the power of the Heavenly Sword, Nariko sets out on a mission to unite the blade with the ‘chosen one’. A prophecy has told that King Bohan will come looking for the sword, and only the chosen one can wield its power and stop the evil king.
The adventure takes Nariko over many beautiful landscapes, from desserts and snow covered mountains, to the less attractive swamp lands and a lava filled fortress, which is so far, so video game. The game similarities do not stop there either. The villains encountered throughout the film are typical of the type you would find in a video game, each with their own unique look and fighting style, each comes across as a boss stage, with each boss having a certain weak point or a specific way of disposing of them. In between the boss fights, when there’s no dialogue, it’s pretty much all action with Nariko and her annoying side-kick (she keeps referring to everything in the third person and it gets old very quickly!), beating the crap out of Bohan’s minions, who all look exactly the same, again echoing video games very closely, with some of them being bigger and have different moves.
The film is 3D computer animated and you would be forgiven for thinking that it was just cut scenes lifted straight from the game. Some of the film is told in flashback and the art style takes a radically different direction, changing the 3D animation for a hand drawn style which isn’t too dissimilar from the Deathly Hallows animated section in the Harry Potter film of the same name. The voice acting is good for the most part, though Thomas Jane is channelling Adam West for this one! The main protagonist probably reminds some of Red Sonja (the character, not the Bridget Nielson movie), with vivid long red hair and rather shapely and scantily clad, which I suppose is a staple of the genre, although I doubt some armour would’ve gone amiss, given that Nariko goes up against an army.
Under all the story and fights lies a Mulan sort of tale where the women are seen as second class citizens and Nariko rises to the challenge to show her father that he was wrong for writing her off because of her gender. The film does recycle virtually every cliché in the book, but get past its flaws and there is an enjoyable hack and slash adventure in there, with a decent music score thrown in for good measure. It’s by no means anything original, but even if you aren’t a gamer, you might get some enjoyment out of the film. If you are a gamer, there’s no doubt you’ll be wanting to play the game after watching this, and why not? You can pick it up for a pittance nowadays.