Its not easy being a film fan sometimes. Of course we never run out of films to watch, but when you watch a film that you feel is a ‘gem’ then you sit around and wait for the filmmakers of that ‘gem’ to bring out another film that will be just as good, give you the same excitement that you had from their previous film, and hope upon hope, that they don’t let you down (not that you think they would) One such film was 2012’s Hard Boiled Sweets, written and directed by David LG Hughes . A tale set in modern day Southend, with with a glorious Elmore Leonard/film noir style to it with stories crossing over and a whole set of characters doing their thing, and all headed to a third act that kept me guessing and wondering whos going to come out of it smiling (if anyone). I had such a fondness for Hard Boiled Sweets and still do, its a film I have seen at least a dozen times over the past few years and features such a great set of actors such as Ian Hart (Backbeat),, Paul Freeman (Raiders Of The Lost Ark), Scot Williams (Backbeat), Ty Glaser (Holby City), Rene Zagger (Grange Hill) and many more. Great film that you should check it out if you haven’t already.
But then things went quiet for me on new films by David LG Hughes, and I wondered what he was working on and what would come next, but also when it would. Nothing….silence…ah but then, I started seeing some updates. David was off somewhere working on something, writing away (or typing-not sure on his process) and I knew that something was coming. But would it be as wonderful as Hard Boiled Sweets. Well that question was answered recently and YES is the answer. Now I’m not taking away from Hard Boiled Sweets, but the latest film by David LG Hughes is another ‘gem’ and isn’t set in Southend, and isn’t set in the modern day. The latest film is called Of Gods and Warriors (previously titled Viking Destiny) and takes the viewer into the world of Norse, the world of the Vikings, and a very tough world it looks too. Beginning with the text bar ‘Once Upon A Time…’ and a very cool voice over by Terence Stamp (Song For Marion, The Limey) we are dropped into this violent world with a brutal beach battle which pulls no punches and sheaths no swords.
I wont go into to much of the storyline, because the beauty of most films, and especially the work that David writes is seeing where the story unfolds, and what journey the characters to through in this 100 or so minute film. Now with anything medieval or with anything involving a sword and ‘olden times’ there will always be a comparison to the work of HBO and George RR Martins Game Of Thrones, but please dont do that with Of Gods and Warriors, whilst the world of Thrones spans many continents, dragons, the living dead and other fantastical elements, Of Gods and Warriors deals with the real thing. Real Vikings, and real characters who live real lives and this film shows just how tough this life must have been. But it shows it with a beauty (in most cases) But it deals with the storyline in a more intimate way, taking us with a small set of characters and allowing us to see into their lives and how events affect them and those very close to them.
The film looks glorious and there are so many shots in this film that beg to be printed off, and placed in a large frame on your wall, location plays such a huge part in the film with its grandeur for some locations (such as seascapes and cliff tops) but also with the smaller locations (such as cave corridors and forest settings) So If I wore a hat, I would tip my hat off to Director of Photography, Sara Deanethe (who also shot the film Hard Boiled Sweets) The action set pieces are also top notch and great action choreography in not just its sword battles, but also with scenes involving easily one of the most disturbing hand weapons I’ve seen in a film for a while. I cant say enough good things about this film and also the work that will have gone on behind the scenes, ranging from the films design, to its creation.
The film has everything. It has a leading actress Anna Demetriou who plays the role of Helle, who is wonderful and takes to the screen as if she owns it (and she does own it) with her journey through this world. We like her, we care for her, and we also know that she is more than capable of taking care of herself, This is perfect team work, from Anna’s performance, alongside David’s writing and directing and with only a very short filmography at the moment, Anna Demetriou is most definitely one actress to keep an eye on and just as an adage its even more impressive when you take into account that this film features the wonderfully iconic Terence Stamp, a man who has been in so many films, I could fill a full article just with his screen appearances and in Of Gods and Warriors he shares his scenes with Anna. Perhaps you might think. Well so what? How is that impressive? Well when you realise that Terence Stamp has currently 88 film and television appearances and Anna Demetriou, well this is her first feature film (having previously voiced a video game, and appeared in a short film) and graduated from drama school only 6 months before this film began shooting. NOW tell me that not an impressive feat and must have been a great experience for Anna (and of course Terence) .
The rest of the cast are also fantastic and include a great range of talent, there is of course the aforementioned Terence Stamp, as Odin, but also Will Mellor, who in the role of Lord Soini is far from the type of roles he has played in the past in shows such as Hollyoaks, and Line Of Duty but who takes to this far more action orientated role like a duck to water or like a very well trained Viking to a sword fight. , and whilst I could sit here and write testimonials to them all, I wont, but special mention has to go to the most horrible character I’ve seen on screen since Joffrey in Game Of Thrones, and that is Timo Nieminen who plays the role of ‘Bard’ to such perfect that if it were possible to strangle my television, I might well have done so whilst watching this guys performance. You will despise his character, you will want to hunt him down yourself, but you will also love every moment that he is on screen even though you want him to get off your screen and get back to the story of Helle. I cant say enough good things about this film and hop you feel the same when you watch it, but also when you listen to it, because as well as what we see on screen, this film also gives the world another beautiful score by Tom E Morrison (who also scored Hard Boiled Sweets) The score fits perfectly with the film, beautiful when it needs to be, epic when it needs to be and music is such a perfect ingredient when used right, and Tom knows how to do this. He is a Master of the audio and David is a master of the camera but also the word.
Im super excited that there is another David LG Hughes film in the world and super excited when the film is released so I can watch the feedback come in. I loved the film, and am sure you will to. Thats two for 2 Mr Hughes, and whilst Hard Boiled Sweets is very different to Of Gods and Warriors, I like to think of them as super distance cousins and it was wonderful to see some of the HBS crew getting back together again behind the camera, and of course with a great role once again for Mr Paul Freeman who appeared in both Hard Boiled Sweets and Of Gods and Warriors. Is Paul Freeman the Bruce Campbell of the David Hughes world if David Hughes were Sam Raimi? I prefer David LG Hughes, being David LG Hughes, but you get my point.
Of Gods And Warriors is out now on Blu Ray, DVD and Digital.