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‘Ironclad: Battle for Blood’ review: Blood, sweat, and shaky cam

Ironclad: Battle for Blood


The first “Ironclad” film, released in 2011, showed potential but came up short in the end. It had a strong cast and decent action sequences, but the character development was a bit lacking, and Paul Giamatti chewed the scenery like a tough steak. The second film, “Battle for Blood,” which released to limited theaters on July 25, seems more focused on the action and nothing else – making it a blast for those who like seeing blood splatter every second and a bore for everyone else. I’m in the latter category.

'Ironclad: Battle for Blood' images-slide0
Courtesy of XLrator Media, used with permission
'Ironclad: Battle for Blood' poster
Courtesy of XLrator Media, used with permission

Director Jonathan English returns to 13th century England, but he mostly brings along different characters this time around. The only one who’s the same is Guy the Squire, but he’s played by Tom Austen here and not Aneurin Barnard. And I’m assuming Barnard didn’t return because he was too busy making “The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box” and some other features. It might have been better to have Austen play a whole new character and not one who appeared in the first film.

Anyway, it’s Guy’s turn to protect the kingdom this time around, after his uncle (David Rintoul) falls ill. Guy’s cousin, Hubert (Tom Rhys Harries) recruits him and the two must stop a Scotsman seeking vengeance for the death of his son.

There’s a story somewhere in “Ironclad: Battle for Blood” that has cousins getting romantically involved; a crazed nymphomaniac with a thirst for killing; and a few other interesting moments. But it's all very brief as English tends to focus more on showing dismembered limbs; eyeballs ripped out of sockets; severed heads; and copious amounts of blood spatter.

English can’t maintain the camera’s steadiness so the viewer can see what’s happening. Nearly every single shot, even ones where fighting isn’t taking place, shakes like an earthquake is about to happen or Godzilla will magically appear and wipe out the kingdom. The latter would have been more preferable.

The only recognizable actress is Michelle Fairley (“Game of Thrones,” “24: Live Another Day”), but her performance is wasted with how little screen time she is given. Harries is likable, but with all the fighting going on, one can’t really keep track of the performances or what the rest of the film is supposed to be about.