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 I was apprehensive about spending what I spent for this DVD - however, I was not as disappointed as I thought I would be. I had only read 2 reviews for it - one of which was in German - and neither were stellar. For fans of Xena and Hercules, it is perfect. It is the story of Elizabeth of Cooke who has returned from the crusades to discover her son has been taken (Who the heck was her baby-sitter anyway?) and the countryside looted by a deposed nobleman named Grekkor. With most of the able-bodied men fighting with King Richard - it is easy to see how this happened - and is documented fact as well as legend. (Think Robin Hood - same time period, same situation - Evil Sheriff of Nottingham oppresses people while King Richard is away in Jerusalem slaughtering Saracens.)
The entire reason for my purchase, is well, Arnold Vosloo - who is absolutely wonderful. Blonde haired, blue-eyed, Rutger Hauer is suitably devious as the cruel Grekkor of Warrenton - however, Arnoldıs character shines through as a conflicted slave named Luke, who is named Grekkorıs champion quite by accident. The first time you see Luke, he is more than just a little drunk, and unable to mount a horse, but still manages to quite successfully kill his opponent, after which he promptly throws up then passes out to cheers from Grekkor and the spectators. It is a blood-match - a joust for fun, but to the death, and Grekkor is surprised by the victor. The man can fight, and fight while drunk, imagine what he could do if sober. Arnold did a superb job with this scene and you get to see how athletic he really is. He took a number of ³drunken spills² and dodged a (huge) galloping horse and blows from a mace. He spent most of the scene picking himself up off the ground. It is borderline slapstick at the beginning, but if anything it is dark comedy, Luke was being set up to be killed merely for Grekkorıs amusement. When he realizes this, and it comes down to his life or the other manıs - he comes alive and literally pounds the other guy good. They make a big deal about Lukeıs brute strength and size in this scene as well. In order to even up the odds (the other man is mounted) any good fighter knows that he must put his opponent on the ground. Instead of pulling the man off the horse, which is what I expected, instead, he just tackles the horse and literally (with the help of some good camera work) pushes the animal backwards and off balance, unseating itıs rider, thereby accomplishing his goal. It takes a pretty strong person to do this, especially considering that these are big ³Clydesdale² type horses - not the short quarter horses typically rented for low budget movies. Okay, so this is obviously a really big, strong guy, who we discover later, is really a gentle giant. (And unless my eyes fail me and/or the pause button on my DVD is defective - it is really Arnold doing most of the pushing - phew! - Baltimoreıs football team could take a lesson or two.)
There is far more to Luke than meets the eye, and Grekkor know this. Something has happened to this big, strong, intelligent man to cause him to submit so willingly. He rewards Luke with another slave, a woman named Rachel, who, in a delicious love scene, manages to get at the truth behind his past. A shirtless, but battle scarred Arnold starts at the bottom and very gently works his way to the top -thatıs all I will say. Wow! Short and tastefully done, keeping it PG-13, but at the same time, very, very sexy. It is his best scene, not because itıs a love scene, but because of caliber of acting in it (they do actually talk a bit) and the chemistry between him and Nina Young, the actress playing Rachel.
Luke was assigned as part of the Royal Secret Guard to protect the Count of Harpton, he failed and the count was killed. He has never found the manıs murderer, although he has searched for years. He considers himself a failure who belongs right where he is - ³at the bottom² as he puts it. He knows that Grekkor is up to no good - you see the pain etched clearly on his face when he is unable to meet the eyes of the people of Kentshire, a town that Grekkor has been harassing. He also tries to quietly give advice about martyrdom, which of course is promptly ignored. Protecting the warlord gives him some purpose in life, that is all - it is what he does best. (Except maybe.....did I mention that love scene? But I digress...... )
You see his soft side again as he befriends Peter, Elizabethıs son and begins teaching him to fight, to Grekkorıs immense pleasure. You see a bond form between the two - even though Arnold and the young man playing Peter only have a few short scenes together. It is plainly obvious that both actors were having a great time playing with the wooden swords. Grins all around!
In a bid to get her son back, Elizabeth and her co-conspirators, Hunter, Eve and Sybil, finally raid the camp and are captured, but not before Hunter wounds Luke. With an arrow lodged firmly in his right shoulder (sword arm), he is stuck behind while the rest of Grekkorıs men return to the Kentshire to subdue itıs people. Grekkor has already killed their priest, and Elizabeth has stirred up a revolt. In the process, Luke discovers that Grekkor is the murderer that he has been searching for and quickly changes sides. For him it is about honor and promises kept, not simply revenge, but he is even more conflicted now that he knows the truth, and Elizabeth is not impressed. She backs off when told who he truly is, and he finally agrees to aid her (but not before he not-so-politely chews her out about her responsibilities as a mother - i.e. - not leaving Peter to run off and fight in the Crusades) in a ploy to lure Grekkor to her castle. He does his part to protect Peter from the fighting and finally kills Ansgar, one of Grekkorıs thugs, who has generally been a pain in the rear-end throughout most of his scenes in the movie. Ansgar is bigger than Luke, jealous of Luke, and sits on his brains. (Big, huge man,...little tiny mind.)
The fight sequences were well choreographed and Arnold played up the shoulder injury all the way through until the last scene of the movie. It made Luke seem more vulnerable but also showed the characterıs strength and determination despite the odds. Not knowing the ending, and given the way Arnold played it, I was afraid that Lukeıs strength was going to fail him, and he was going to be killed. But this is a kids movie, and much like the Robin Hood legend, it has a relatively happy ending.
The acting by the leads, particularly, Rutger Hauer, and Arnold is top notch. The secondary characters need a whole lot of help, and a few need some serious acting classes, but you can ignore the flat acting in Xena, you can probably ignore it in this too. Itıs obvious that the movie is for young teens and was probably meant to be dubbed and/or subtitled. I did have a problem with the accents. It was supposed to England and besides Charlotte Avery (Eve) and Nina Young (Rachel), Arnold was the only other one who sounded remotely close. Hauer, though Dutch, did his trademark American accent and Paculasıs of course, was Polish. Everyone else had a different accent, or a flat American accent, which to people watching who donıt speak English, I suppose it doesnıt matter. Itıs Xena - in England - with subtitles.( In my case - Japanese subtitles) Are you confused yet? The dialogue could have been better as well. Flog the script writer - oh well. There is little or no blood, making it okay for mature younger kids to watch. My 7 year old daughter enjoyed it immensely and at the beginning wanted to know if Arnold was going to be the bad guy - again. She was genuinely surprised when he wasnıt and actually liked the fact that he helped Peter and was still alive at the end. Her jaw really hit the floor when he led Elizabeth over to dance. She couldnıt get over the idea that ³The Mummy² was dancing. (heck, Iıd take a turn on the dance floor with him, but I probably just step all over his toes - two left feet, what can I say.....)
The scenery is gorgeous and the costumes arenıt too bad. Like Xena, the garb is Medieval-esque, cheating the period somewhat for the sake of some good cleavage shots of Eve, and to make it obvious that Sybil is a gypsy. I guess made in Lithuania means that you have gypsies who know all about herbs and potions instead of Celts. It would have made mores sense (we are in England after all) to have made Sybil a Scot or a Welsh woman rather than a gypsy. Minor detail and most children wonıt notice anyway. Arnold looks wonderful in brown leather and suede with a big wool and fur cloak - a bit like a huge, bald, teddy bear. Not entirely a period outfit either, but with the wide studded leather belt, it compliments his rather striking figure gorgeously. Put the striking figure on a big horse and it gets even better. (Leather tunic, leather pants, leather boots......... hmmm - Iıve never wanted to be a horse so badly in all my life.) Hauerıs costume is nicely done as well, except itıs black. I donıt know who wrote the rule that says ³Bad guys always wear black.² but they followed it to the letter. I couldnıt stand his helmet. Decidedly not period at all and very unbecoming to Hauerıs rugged features - in my humble opinion. The peasants were a little too clean for my taste (not enough dirt and mud), as were the villages, but thatıs Hollywood I suppose. (Why is it that Medieval peasants almost always have perfect teeth? Think Xena.....think Xena....) The swords are actually more to period, Iım relieved to say - good heavy broad swords, no fancy Spanish hilts and not a rapier in sight. The sets were so-so with the best sets being interior shots of Elizabethıs castle and inside huts and at Grekkorıs camp.
If youıre a Xena fan - flat acting, gypsies, cleavage and brick castle walls instead of stone wonıt matter at all, and if youıre a Arnold Vosloo fan, youıll like this character and performance - a lot. He has that wonderful ability to let you see the characterıs depth, and understand why, even without speaking, much like he did with Imhotep in The Mummy. One glance, one look, is all it takes for him to convey a myriad of emotions. Again,, he uses those stunning eyes of his to their absolute fullest - all of the passion and conflict is right there - in his eyes. They smolder and look black as pitch in most scenes, probably just because of the low lighting and use of flame and candles on darkened sets, but it works, whether it was done intentionally or not.
All in all, a good sword and sorcery kids film, and a good film for fans of the Xena genre, who like their heroines older, wiser and battle hardened.
Interview with Arnold Vosloo (March 18, 2002)
by Lori Van Ekeren
 Arnold Vosloo sits in his 10th floor hotel room, overlooking a snowy Montreal cityscape. He claims its snowing so hard that it almost looks like its blowing up as well as falling down. He's in Canada to film "Veritas", a 2 hour pilot for ABC. Montreal is, in this case, doubling for Paris, but if the pilot is picked up this fall, the show will be filmed entirely in Los Angeles. Arnold is obviously relieved at the prospect of working so close to home. Production will wrap at the end of April, and by the end of May, ABC will decide whether or not to order an entire season of this adventure show. If so, Arnold will be busy from August, 2002 thru to March, 2003.
Arnold plays Vincent, the 'muscle' of a father/son headed archeological team. When asked how he would describe Vincent, Arnold admits he doesn't really know the character yet. He says he's a bit of an enigma and if the show does get a full order, his character will be explained more in depth. Taking on the role of Vincent was a conscious decision on Arnold's part to start playing more 'good guy' roles and roles where he gets to speak English. A factor that often surprises Arnold's Mummy fans. Arnold is even sporting short, cropped hair for this part.
And what about those Mummy fans? Good news is on the way. James Jacks, producer, contacted Arnold a few weeks ago to discuss the possibility of starting filming on "The Mummy 3" next summer. This will fit nicely with Arnold's new television schedule. Stephen Sommers will likely be writing the film, but whether or not he will direct is unknown. Other cast isn't known at this point. Arnold has 'heard' that Brendan Fraser might be interested in returning as well.
Late last year, Arnold found himself in Lithuania. He went over to film "Warrior Angels" with Rutger Hauer and Joanna Pacula, and ended up staying to film "Endangered Species" with Eric Roberts and John Rhys-Davies. Weathering temperatures of -17F, by having a hair dryer blow on his face in between takes, made filming arduous at times, but Arnold has nothing but positive stories to tell of his experiences.
"Warrior Angels" casts Arnold as the 'good guy/mercenary', helping a mother retrieve her son from an evil warlord (Hauer). Arnold describes the film as basically a sword and sorcerer-type 'kids' movie'.
"Endangered Species" is a sci-fi adventure movie, in which Arnold plays an alien game warden. Another 'good guy'. The game in this case, describes the human race on earth. His character hooks up with Eric Roberts who is playing a human cop. Arnold has been a fan of Eric's since "The Pope of Greenich Village" and describes him as an 'American treasure'. He reports that they got on famously.
Arnold does not know for sure, but he assumes that due to the small budget of these two productions, they will likely not be theatrically released.
"Con Express", filmed last April in Utah with Sean Patrick Flanery, is still waiting to be sold. Arnold just completed further looping on that 3 weeks ago.
Just for fun, I asked Arnold about his Oscar predictions.
Halle Berry for best actress.
Denzel Washington for best actor.
His favourite movies of the year (though not nominated) were 'Monster's Ball' and 'Amelie'.
However, he predicts "A Beautiful Mind" for both best picture and director.
He picks "Memento" for a screenplay award and describes the film as 'tripped out!'.
Arnold was amazed that production designer Alan Cameron (The Mummy Returns) wasn't nominated. He marvelled at the quality and detail evident in both "Mummy" productions.
As he watches the snow fall, Arnold happily plans a late spring trip to visit his family in South Africa. If "Veritas" finds success this fall, he'll not have time for travel for many months to come. For fans who've been missing him these past few months, publicity-shy Arnold has this to say.... "its going to get crazy, I promise you."
We look forward to it Arnold.

Arnold's Angel