Ironclad 2: Battle For Blood (2014)
Directed by: Jonathan English
Written by: Jonathan English, Stephen McDool
Starring: Andy Beckwith, Danny Webb, David Caves, Michelle Fairley, Predrag Bjelac, Rosie Day, Roxanne McKee, Tom Austen, Tom Rhys Harries, Twinnie Lee Moore
Ironclad 2: Battle For Blood
(15) Running time: 108 minutes
Director: Jonathan English
Writers: Jonathan English, Stephen McDool
Cast: Tom Austen, Michelle Fairley, Roxanne McKee, Danny Webb, Rosie Day, Twinnie Lee Moore, Predrag Bjelac, Andy Beckwith, Tom Rhys Harries, David Caves
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
The first Ironclad movie, also directed by Jonathan English, was a lot of violent, gory fun. The film told the true story of the siege at Rochester Castle, and English bagged himself a great cast, some really big characters, superb and very violent fights scenes and the film was a thrilling spectacle in ultra violence and tough men being tough. Ironclad was a man’s film, made by men, starring men slicing the crap out of each other, and you had to be man enough to watch it.
The film was a huge success, so I guess a ‘sequel’ was to be expected, and along comes Ironclad 2: Battle For Blood. Taking place five years after the events of the first film, this time round the Scots are on the rampage across England attacking villages, castles and any stray Englishmen they can find. We join one clan of Celtic attackers as they kill an innocent man by a lake, and slice open his pregnant wife, nice people! The clan soon stumbles upon the De Vesci castle, and lay siege to the English inside. The son of the Scottish leader sneaks in to prove his manliness to his Father, but during the siege he gets killed. The Scottish leader stands outside demanding to see his Son, and it all starts to feel a bit silly. You have just attacked an English castle, yet you believe your Son should be spared just because he is your Son?
The Master of the House is critically ill after having his arm chopped off, and the Scottish Son is hung from the castle walls for all the Scots to see. Hubert (Tom Rhys Harries) is the Son of the Master of the House, and is ordered to go and find his battle worn cousin Guy (Tom Austen) and seek out help before the Scots attack again. Guy the Squire currently earns his money at underground fighting events, and will only help his younger cousin for money. He brings with him his trusted two-word friend Maddog (Predrag Bjelac) and on the way they pick up an Executioner named Pierrepoint (Andy Beckwith) and also a woman he was about to execute for 12 murders, Crazy Mary (Twinnie Lee Moore). Once back at the castle its business as usual as the Scots attempt to smash through the walls.
If you have seen the first Ironclad, then no doubt you will be wanting to see the sequel, but approach with caution. The magic that made the first film so great is long gone here, and instead we have truly uninteresting characters, fleshed out as if we give a shit, played by not so great actors who fail to give the characters a soul. The script goes from bad to dull, and some of it is delivered so slowly it’s as if the actor was reading from a page without his glasses on. The character back stories are not very interesting, and while the first film had characters who stood out, even in this crowded genre, Ironclad 2 has none of that. Guy the Squire has his moments, but sadly he just can’t carry the film. Hubert is annoying, as is Pierrepoint, and I have no idea who or what Maddog is trying to be. He comes across like a mixture of One-Eye from Valhalla Rising and Severus Snape from Harry Potter, but bad impressions of both.
Naturally though, the main thing we have come for here is not story or acting, but fighting, right? Well good luck with that! England has gone down the shaky-cam approach far too dramatically here, and EVERY blasted fight scene is met with a sudden juddering of the camera, and rather than enhance the action, it ruins it. I could see the odd bit of slicing, dicing and chopping, but I could barely make any of it out. The actual editing of the fights scenes appeared quite good, with great sound effects and plenty of close-ups, but with the camera having a seizure you can’t see a bastard thing! My wife, who attempted to watch it with me, went for a bath as it gave her a headache!
I don’t complain about shaky-cam all that much, because if done well it can really enhance the viewing experience. Not here, it ruins what may have been an average film, and creates a terrible one. Hell, the camera even goes mental during some emotional scenes with just talk, and it just ruins everything! So, if you have come to Ironclad 2 for more action and more violence, you will get it, you just can’t bloody see it.
The first film was incredible, the sequel is actually awful, and even though I really tried to enjoy it, I just couldn’t. The weak story, weak actors and terribly terribly put together fight scenes let this entire film down, and unlike the first film, Ironclad 2 appears to be thinking it is much better than it actually is. The freshness, the simplicity and the general sense self awareness is what made the first film so great. It knew it was not groundbreaking, it knew it had all been seen before, and it knew it was bloody violent and actually cherished that fact and allowed you to see it, up close and personal. The sequel has none of these charms, and is a massive let down, and even big fans of the original (like me) will find Ironclad 2 irritating and, sadly, a chore to watch.