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Category:    Home > Reviews > Adventure > Fantasy > Sword > Sorcery > Magic > Tales Of An Ancient Empire (2011/Lionsgate DVD)

Tales Of An Ancient Empire (2011/Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Film: C+



Way back in 1982 Albert Pyun released The Sword and the Sorcerer, a campy, action-packed sword and sorcery tale that managed to check off all of the required “boxes” for a fun fantasy romp.  Swashbuckling and swordplay?  Check.  Weird magic?  Check.  Beautiful, scantily clad (or naked) women?  Check.  Bad wigs?  Check.  The end credits of Sorcerer promised a sequel, but that movie never materialized.  Until now.


Almost thirty years later, Tales of an Ancient Empire has been made!  Featuring the bastard children of the previous film’s main hero, Talon (Lee Horsley), Empire tells the tale of the fantasy kingdom of Abelar’s struggle against a reanimated Vampire Queen Xia (Whitney Able).  Looking amazing in her diaphanous costumes, and with a strangely modulated voice, Ms. Able chews the scenery with reckless abandon.  She and her vampire minions threaten all of Abelar, forcing  Queen Ma’at (Jennifer Siebel Newsom) to send a call for help to Talon’s scions.


Among them we find Aedan (Kevin Sorbo) languishing in a dive bar, over indulging in drink and living the life of a renowned thief and rogue.  It seems the lusty Talon stayed quite busy, as once Mr. Sorbo’s services have been secured, the group of heroes slowly grows to include three daughters, and even a granddaughter.  This small group of somewhat reluctant heroes moves to confront the threat of Xia and her servants.  Along the way we’re treated to plenty of mayhem.


Empire tries very hard to follow the happy-go-lucky spirit of its predecessor, and it manages to succeed at this on some level, but it lacks the innocence and pure fun of Sorcerer.  Director Pyun and script writer Cynthia Curnan sometimes try too hard with the dialogue, as in case where Aedan (Mr. Sorbo) suggests an assignation with his half-sister, pointing out that it would not be so bad as she is only his half-sister.  A moment where they were trying to convey Aedan’s roguish qualities turned weird on one piece of dialogue.


Extras include interviews with cast and crew, and a trailer gallery.  These do provide some insight into this film’s long journey from glimmer in the director’s eye to finished product.  It seems from the interviews that the cast genuinely had a good time making it, and fans of the genre should have a good time watching it.  Because it is sprinkled with some cringe-worthy moments, I would strongly urge director Pyun to submit this film to the fine folks at Rifftrax for some good-natured lampooning.


Still, fans awaiting this sequel, or even folks just interested in a sword and sorcery romp, will find quality moments and an overall entertaining film in Empire.



-   Scott Pyle


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