Directed by Uwe Boll
I realize at this point I should not be surprised by how bad an Uwe Boll movie is, but I can still be taken aback by his abilities to plumb the depths of laziness. I get the sense he is as absolutely bored to tears making genre films as the audience will be watching them. Unless the film has some sort of anti-capitalism message, he can’t even be bothered to sleepwalk his way through it anymore.
Rarely have the laws of diminishing returns been as glaring as with this Uwe Boll franchise. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale was a Lord of the Rings wannabe starring Jason Statham I kind of enjoyed, warts and all. In the Name of the King: 2 Worlds (review) with Dolph Lundgren as a suicidal soldier of fortune zapped into an Army of Darkness scenario was a chore to sit through, yet still less so than this third lifeless installment. In the Name of the King III is more or less a straight-up remake of Part 2 except slower, cheaper, lazier, and with a nearly comatose Dominic Purcell (“Prison Break”) as one of the worst of all motion picture clichés: the world-weary hitman pulling off one last job before retiring from the assassination game.
Unlike in previous installments, there are virtually no fantasy elements to the plot outside of time-traveling portals, a fire-breathing dragon, and a tattoo on the hero’s arm matching the mark of some prophesized savior said to free medieval Bulgarians from a tyrannical overlord possessing this era’s version of the time-traveling medallion he needs to get home. I’m going to assume the lack of magical elements this time around is because there also appeared to be a serious lack of budget. The production values make your local Renaissance Faire look Peter Jackson-ian by comparison.
Instead of having any fun with the idea of a stone cold killer for hire running around a medieval kingdom ruled by an evil king and his dragon, all Boll and company can muster is a slow-paced, humorless, so-generic-there-needs-to-be-a-new-word-invented-to-describe-something-even-more-generic-than-generic Army of Darkness knock-off that fails miserably to even do the little things right. Supporting actors for whom English is clearly not their first language and a lead actor who sounds like he’s taken one too many Ambien spew forth repetitive, leaden exposition masquerading as plot. If that doesn’t lull you to sleep, the rudimentary sword & sandal action should do the trick. Whether it involves guns, swords, horses, cars, or dragons, excitement is nil and no fun is to be had. You won’t even find any unintentional camp value in this outing.
How does this 21st century killer end up in ancient Bulgaria? You see, that last job he’s pulling involves the kidnapping of the two young daughters of a prominent Bulgarian. He swipes a family heirloom necklace from one of the girls that just happens to randomly trigger a time portal to medieval Bulgaria. How’s that for plot convenience?
Purcell is immediately greeted by a pair of attractive Bulgarian warrior women, one of whom is the daughter of the slain king and his love interest; the latter must have also been foretold by the prophecy because it’s not like there’s any actual chemistry to explain why they’ll soon get all kissy face.
“You may have made some bad choices in your life, but you’re not a bad man,” she’ll tell him.
HE’S A PROFESSIONAL HITMAN!!!
The movie opens with him shooting a bunch of people to death, kidnapping children and locking them in a storage crate in the middle of nowhere. Yet, we’re supposed to feel for him because he’s very depressed over his wife having been murdered by even worse guys. Not a hint of this hitman for hire being the badass he should be; “Ash” in Army of Darkness was more of a brash anti-hero than this guy and “Ash” was a clerk at a department store, not a seasoned contract killer.
Nothing spotlights the laziness of this production more so than the non-dimensional villain our one-dimensional hero has been prophesized to defeat in order to free these Bulgarian lands to one day become the mecca of modern motion picture tax breaks. So undefined as a character that everyone talking about how he’s an evil tyrant is the only thing truly establishing him as such. The film fails to have him say or do much of anything to make him appear threatening or make us want to root for his ultimate defeat. Just how insignificant is this antagonist? The actor playing the evil king is credited 7th and this is not an all-star cast.
But what of this dragon of which you spoke; surely he must slay the fire-breathing dragon, right? Wrong. I already told you In the Name of the King III can’t even get the simple things right. The hero never even slays the dragon. Can you believe that? The dragon is so incidental to the events of the story that even at the end when it slips back through the portal to modern Bulgaria, it’s still not the focal point of the action. Not when there are kids he kidnapped and locked up in need of rescue and generic gangsters that need shooting.
In the name of all that is holy, please let this be the last job.