Twitter Plot Summary: A castle is besieged by a guy who looks like the guy from Slayer. There’s some blood and pointless romance.
The first Ironclad worked. Not because of its awesome action scenes (because it didn’t really have any), or because of its compelling storyline (because it didn’t have that either), but primarily because somehow they were able to rope in a decent array of big names to appear in it which made up for its many shortcomings.
Fast forward a couple of years to the sequel, Battle for Blood. Instead, with the exception of Michelle Fairley, most recently known for appearing as Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones, there are no other well known actors in the cast. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but much like the first Ironclad there are still no awesome action scenes and it still lacks a compelling storyline. As it is, we get to watch a group of soap actors (Roxanne McKee, Rosie Day, Danny Webb, et al) having to contend with a siege set in motion by Predrag Bjelac’s Maddog, a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Slayer’s singer/bass guitarist Tom Araya. This, as it turns out, is a very distracting thing once you’ve noticed it.
Inside the castle, watching over the dying king (serves him right for hacking up some Celts and Tom Araya… sorry, Maddogs’s son), we are treated to much emotional distraught as the castle residents try and figure out how to survive the attack. There’s also a bit of a romance story between the returning cousin and one of the girls (because, why not?) thrown in just to tick off all the boxes. In theory Battle for Blood has all the makings of a film that does everything you’d possibly want it to. In practice, it couldn’t be further away from that ideal.
The location shoot looks nice, although using what is today a ruin of a castle no doubt provided many challenges when shooting. Numerous closeups abound in a desperate bid to avoid the need for CGI replacements (which, when used, look awful), and we’re supposed to believe that the castle is under siege from a vast army of Celts. Ignoring the fact that Bjelac, leader of the hoard is actually from Serbia (and his aforementioned resemblance to Tom Araya – sadly he’s not much of a singer in this), it’s blatantly obvious that there are no more than 50 extras involved in storming the walls.
Despite best intentions, it doesn’t draw you into the action and instead makes you wonder what all the fuss is about – based on screen numbers alone rather than what is implied, there’s clearly no way they’d be able to effectively besiege a donkey, let alone an entire castle. Yet somehow they manage this and the audience’s incredulity increases as time goes on. By the time the film ends you’re no better off than when you started. Aside from the revenge aspect, is there really any point to any of this?
And that brings it down to having to rely on the performances (passable) and the extreme violence (also passable) in order to entertain the masses. It’s lack of star power means it flounders, and there are only so many things you can do with a castle siege storyline before the concept starts to get stale. It seems that all of the possible story points and angles were covered in the first Ironclad and done as well as you could expect, thus rendering this sequel a somewhat pointless endeavour.