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Q&A with ‘Ironclad Battle For Blood’ director Jonathan English with new stills

Predrag Bjelac as Maddog in the action film “Ironclad: Battle for Blood,” an XLrator Media release. Photo credit: Vuk Bjelovuk
Predrag Bjelac as Maddog in the action film “Ironclad: Battle for Blood,” an XLrator Media release. Photo credit: Vuk Bjelovuk
XLrator Media

The world of castles and kingdoms returns as one of the survivors from the battle of Rochester Castle embarks on a new journey in Jonathan English’s, IRONCLAD BATTLE FOR BLOOD. The sequel to the action packed adrenaline rushed thriller IRONCLAD hits DVD this upcoming August 5th. You can watch it currently on some VOD outlets and limited theaters on July 25th.

"Twinnie-Lee Moore as Crazy Mary on set of action film “Ironclad: Battle for Blood,” an XLrator Media  release. Photo credit: Vuk Bjelovuk"
XLrator Media

IRONCLAD will be headed our way courtesy of XLrator Media. Director Jonathan English was kind enough to answer a few questions about the upcoming sequel.

Steel yourself for another brutal battle, as one of the few survivors of the Great Siege of Rochester Castle fights to protect his family’s estate from fierce Celtic raiders. With a new battleground and a new enemy, IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD delivers the same ferocious, adrenaline-filled action that defined IRONCLAD. Tom Austen (“The Borgias”) and Michelle Fairley (“Game of Thrones”) star in this exciting new adventure from the director, writers and producers of the original IRONCLAD.

Why is there a need to return to the land of Ironclad?

There’s a variety of reasons why. When I researched and wrote the first Ironclad I found so many great stories and tales from the period and of course, you can only put so much into one film. The medieval world also continues to hold a real fascination for me, it has since I was a child, I always loved castles and stories of knights. That hasn’t really waned, even since I made the first film. Then, and perhaps the most important reason is that film found quite a following around the world, there was real a large fan base that seemed to be interested for a follow up of some kind. I was very happy to return…

There seems to be a huge emphasis on family in this one, did that help the story come together?

Yes I wanted a more emotional story than the first one. The first film really centered more on a historical event, and even though the characters are passionate about their cause I wanted a more intimate, personal story this time around. That also feels like a smaller, more manageable canvas to work on. Family was also just as important in those times as it is today, as it has probably always been in any period of human history. So, it’s a good emotion anchor or connection for an audience.

With so many films out involving this time period how does a film like Ironclad 2 not get lost in the shuffle?

Well, the first Ironclad certainly established a look and atmosphere for itself that I think is different to some of the other films in the time period. With the sequel we wanted to continue that same feel, but hopefully add to it and enhance it further. I believe we have a unique style that is real, gritty and entertaining. These movies are not made in a studio against green-screen they’re made on location and often in real castles, certainly this one was and I think that adds something special on screen.

Tell me about young Tom Rhys Harries and his role as Hubert he seems like an actor beyond his years?

Yes he was terrific. He did a fantastic audition and got the role in a very normal way, I think he identified with the character and made him his own in the way you always are looking for actors to do. Tom is a very serious, hard working young man and he did his homework and brought a lot to every scene. I think he’s particularly impressive in the later scenes of the film as the castle is being overrun.

What type of weather did you run across while filming in Serbia where there any extra challenges?

Well Serbia has some of the most extreme weather you can imagine. When we started shooting up in the mountains it was clear skies and sunshine. By the time we got to Belgrade it dropped in temperature to minus fifteen degrees celsius. Then, it warmed up, and snowed. Half a meter of snow in the center of Belgrade in two days, even the locals were surprised. That was an immense challenge. One day we were completely unable to shoot the schedule. So I thought, well we are here with the crew and actors so lets shoot something. So we actually shot the unscripted snow montage that is in the film. It’s probably one of my favorite moments!

This film has tons of appeal to action fans but what are somethings that could draw in the casual viewer?

I hope the emotional story of the family, a wayward son finding his way home, a family struggling to hold onto its values against desperate odds. We tried to get some classic ideas into the script that would give the film a real emotional hook. I’m also very proud of the scenery and locations and the music by German composer Andreas Wieldinger which was influenced by Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western soundtracks. In the end, I wanted the film to be entertaining and a classic action adventure film. I hope we achieved that.

Do you feel it is necessary to see the first Ironclad before viewing this film or does it stand alone?

This film stands on its own feet entirely, if you know the first film you’ll see some continuations of the world but the characters are new and the story stands alone. That was always the intention, to revisit the Ironclad world but with a new story.

Do you think we as movie fans will ever tire of knights, kings, queens, and castles?

I think genre has a way of going in cycles. If there’s a period of a lot of westerns, people become tired of them, and tastes move on and change but then a new western comes along and everyone gets excited for the genre again and it causes resurgence. What I know from making the first film is there is a worldwide fascination for castles and the middle ages. It’s a very captivating period of history not just for western audiences but in Asia too. I don’t think it’s going away just yet.

What’s one thing that may surprise audiences while watching Ironclad Battle For Blood?

That it was filmed in Serbia.

Is it a possibility for a third film or could we see this story explored more in a webseries or actual television show?

Because of the rapidly changing face of media platforms like VOD and the internet, I can tell you all of these things are being discussed. I’m certainly interested to explore where the Ironclad brand can go but as always, I think that depends on the fans and whether they want to see more too. I hope people enjoy part 2.

IRONCLAD BATTLE FOR BLOOD is directed by Jonathan English and written by Jonathan English and Steven McDool. It stars Michelle Fairley, Tom Austen, Tom Rhys Harries, Roxanne McKee, Rosie Day, Predrag Bjelac, and Andy Beckwith. It is being released courtesy of XLrator Media.