Warchief (2024)

Warchief Review



A group of defenders is entrusted with the care of a courier who must quickly deliver vital news to their king. Along their deadly journey through an old country, they confront great peril as they fight against infected outcasts, dark sorcery, and foul beasts.

Review of the Movie

Warchief starts with orcs raiding a village. We don’t see them, just one in silhouette lifting a huge sword before it cuts to a wide shot of the village going up in flames. Not exactly epic, but not too bad for what it is.

Making any kind of period film on a low budget is asking for trouble. Getting the costumes and props right is neither cheap nor easy The Siege of Robin Hood is a prime example of how badly they can turn out. Writer/director Stuart Brennan has made a couple himself: The Necromancer, which was set against the Napoleonic Wars; and KIngslayer, which takes place during the Crusades.

His movie Wolf was actually a pretty good example of something even harder to pull off: a low budget historical fantasy film that pits Roman soldiers against wolf men. Creatures and magic are expected by the audience, both of which tend to be expensive to pull off stretching budgets thinner and frequently looking like they were shot at some local Renaissance Fair.

What we see after the prologue looks good enough three warriors (Orion [Stuart Brennan], Griff [Rosanna Miles {This Time Tomorrow | The Grimley’s}], Arlo [Michael Kinsey {Three Day Millionaire | Nails}]), escorting a cowled Messenger (Michael Lambourne [Cashback | The Railway Children]), who bears news for only the king’s ears. Though that doesn’t stop Arlo from trying to get him to tell them what it is.

It doesn’t take long before trouble finds them plague victims swarm out at them and Arlo dies in the fight. But hearing the orc Warchief (Mark Paul Wake [Mr. Self Destruct | Plan Z]) calling his soldiers, they make haste.

And while the Warchief cuts through all between him and them, what threatens the kingdom most is right beside them.

Brennan weaves a good enough tale that covers the basics of the genre without getting too convoluted or dipping into mythos that would take lots of long monologues to explain. He gives us warriors and magic users and monsters human and otherwise and lets them go at it. There are some expected intrigues and double-crosses as well, but they’re kept to a minimum so as to keep things moving along.

What does slow Warchief down is Orion’s village life before he became a Guardian several flashbacks to it, his training, and various pieces of wisdom bestowed upon him by his teacher. Some were obvious how they tied into the main plot line of the movie, but some just felt like padding.

For the money, Warchief is a pretty ambitious film and sometimes that ambition does come back to bite it in the arse. The weapons and armour look alright, certainly not like in one film I can think of where the vikings wore leather vests with “Harley-Davidson” emblazoned on them. The plague makeup is simple but effective, and the orc Warchief and Shaman (also played by Brennan) both have decent enough Warcraft-style makeup. The other orcs are less detailed and kept mostly in the background.

The gore is mostly practical, with some CGI blood mixed in. But where the film really shows its low-budget roots is with Stonehenge, Woodhenge and Seahenge – which is just Stonehenge on a beach. Alongside that ending, I wasn’t expecting a massive Lord of the Rings style battle but you can’t just end right as the war’s about to start, that feels like a cheat those are my main complaints.

If you bear its budget, and therefore limitations, in mind then Warchief is an absolutely fine ninety minutes of blood-and-thunder fantasy. I only hope that if there is a sequel they get given enough money to do at least one proper battle scene.

Warchief is currently available on Digital Platforms in the UK via Icon Film Distribution. Lighthouse will release it Germany this March.

Watch Warchief For Free On Gomovies.

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