Saturday, January 20, 2007

Guardian of the Realm (2006)

I approach each independent film I receive with trepidation - I expect the worst, but secretly I'm hoping for the best. With Guardian of the Realm, I got lucky. This sci-fi/action/horror flick is entertaining and reminded me of one of my favorite shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its high-flying action scenes and a whole lotta heart.

In Los Angeles, a secret organization called C.O.R.E exists. This organization and its agents are responsible for keeping demons out of our realm and killing any that get across. When an occult group unleashes an ancient evil that takes residence in one of their followers' bodies, it is up to top C.O.R.E agents Josh Griffin (Glen Levy) and Alex Marlowe (Tanya Dempsey) to track down the evil and stop it before hell on earth is realized. Think Buffy, but with demons instead of vampires, a male lead instead of a female, lots more gore (especially decapitations) and more action.

There is some serious demon ass-kicking throughout this movie, and for a low-budget picture, the stunts are incredible! We get lots of aerobatics, backflips and lots of other Jet-Li-type stunts. The actors must have had a lot of weapon training as well, because they handle their knives, swords and guns effortlessly. Color me impressed...

The acting itself is very well-done and much, much better than most independent features. The entire cast is solid, from Levy and Dempsey to the actors that play the demons. Though there is so much action going on, the characters are still well-developed and cared about them, wanting to see them succeed. My only complaint with the acting would have to be from Lana Piryan, who plays Nikki and the evil incarnate demon-god Virago. Her delivery seemed a little forced and a little out there.

The story, though it follows the basic premise of a Buffy episode, is nonetheless engaging and entertaining. It feels very well-rounded and complete - the writers (Ted Smith and Wyatt Weed) populate it with believable characters who respond realistically to situations (unlike most crappy horror films). The writing is well-done, and though dialogue isn't the main focus, it was still realistic to the story. The story also had some nice surprises towards the end, like Alex's true identity, which added much to the overall film.

While the special effects at times were a little on the cheap side (the backdrops were obviously models and look fake, the demon at the end looked silly), they didn't detract enough from the overall story to ruin it. The costuming was very impressive, with the demon in the guise of Nikki wearing one of the coolest evil outfits I've seen! There were also lots of neat gadgets and weapons used.

Guardian of the Realm is one fun, well-done independent sci-fi/horror film with many great action scenes. If you like a good demon ass-kicking, I highly suggest you check out Guardian of the Realm and I'll keep my eye on what director/writer Ted Smith does next...

Order it on Amazon!

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