Legend of the Red Reaper

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“Putting the ‘myth’ in myth-takes.”

E9_DB9_A2_F463_F4_E83974065_EB26_B06842This received a certain level of notoriety before even being made, after Legendary Pictures rejected the script, citing a whole raft of (entirely legitimate) reasons, yet also saying, “While I am personally drawn to the presence of a female action hero, it is currently a tough sell with the less than stellar way Sucker Punch was received.” Creator Cardinal went public with the rejection email’s content: seems like a good way to ensure no-one will work with you in Hollywood again, but that’s her decision. However, the film did eventually get made, albeit (or so the story goes) only after a production company embezzled 40% of the money, she worked as a pro wrestler to raise funds, a post-production company lost her footage, and Uwe Boll bailed her out. You can only admire her dogged determination to complete the project she wrote, produced, directed, starred in and edited. Unfortunately, when I say “you can only admire”, the emphasis is on “only”, because the end result isn’t very good.

Interesting Boll became involved, since there’s more than a hint of Bloodrayne, another film series of his. Except, rather than an immortal half-vampire redhead heroine, hacking and slashing those who created her, this is about an immortal half-demon redhead heroine, hacking and slashing those who created her. In this case, it’s Aella (Cardinal), the offspring of a human mother (Swenson) and the demon Ganesh (Eddy), who was sold as a slave to the latter by Mom, only to escape later and become a Reaper, part of a clan who protect humanity from these demons. She has fallen in love with a human prince, Eris (Mackey), who is betrothed to another, and also has to handle getting porcupined with arrows by hunters who want her blood, which has magical properties. Though not nearly as magical as Ganesh’s, and it turns out it’s the only thing keeping her mother alive. She’s running out fast, especially after donating some of her precious stockpile to Aella – albeit with some nasty side-effects, triggering an internal struggle between the two halves of her ancestry. Still, the solution is pretty simple: head for the best source of the blood. That would be Ganesh himself.

It’s all over complex, not very interesting, and plagued by just about every faux pas you have ever seen in low-budget cinema. Excessive voice-over? Check. Gratuitous use of slo-mo and strobe effects? Double check. Thoroughly unconvincing day-for-night photography? In copious quantities. I suspect Cardinal’s “Jill of all trades” approach worked against the film: when you’re wearing all the hats, who’s left to take a step back and apply a coolly critical eye to proceedings? That’s really what the film needed, and at 101 minutes, trimming would have helped as well. It strikes me that, if you combined the production values of this and the action choreography from Warrioress, you’d have a good crack at something impressive. Although both demonstrate that passion isn’t enough by itself, Warrioress was at least outstanding in the combat department. Here, there’s much banging of swords together, and little else, leaving the end result all but forgettable.

Dir: Tara Cardinal
Star: Tara Cardinal, Ray Eddy, David Mackey, Eliza Swenson

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