Directed by Ross Boyask.
Starring Cecily Fay, Joelle Simpson, Christian Howard, Merrilees Fay Harris, Will Brenton, Helen Steinway Bailey, Zara Phythian and Simon Feilder.
Two powerful female warriors must journey across a post-apocalyptic land to fight a ritual duel, and fulfill an ancient prophecy.
There’s not much money in the UK film industry. Generally the output, certainly the more commercial films which get the most funding, are kind of your stereotypical British films. You get “the new Four Weddings,” “the new Full Monty,” “the new Calendar Girls,” and so forth. Genre pictures don’t often come into the mix, though there’s always a plethora of low budget horror flicks from these shores to entertain. As for balls to the wall martial arts action flicks? Well it seems to be left to the American and Asian film industries to corner that market. Our best British action directors have flocked overseas to ply their trade.
Brighton born filmmaker Ross Boyask has been flying the flag for UK-made action films. His previous films, Ten Dead Men and Left For Dead, were both uber low budget fight fests that had wall to wall action. It was real fighters performing in some very well- choreographed action, delivering so much fist and foot carnage that it puts to shame bigger productions featuring the likes of Steven Seagal where you might have 3-4 short action scenes (of which Seagal himself these days is rarely present). What these films lacked in star power and production value they made up for in gleeful levels of people twatting each other. The sad fact of the matter is that it’s been easier for Boyask selling his films in international markets than the UK market, despite doing his bit for UK film. It’s normally worked out that his films will get distributed in the UK off the back of having being sold in foreign territories.
Warrioress sees Boyask step away from simple down and dirty revenge tales to something more expansive. This is like Mad Maxina Warrior Princess, a post-apocalyptic martial arts fantasy. It’s a daring choice given its very low budget. Once in every generation two female warriors from two rival villages must journey across the desolate landscape and through whatever foe stand in their way (and there are a lot of foe) to get to a sacred circle formed of ancient stones and fight to the death. It’s all part of a prophecy. One day the two fighters will be a perfect match of brilliance, unable to defeat the other and then join forces to overthrow the Falonex Empire (kind of like a post-apoc version of ze Nazis). The Falonex Emperor puts as many obstacles in the way of the warrioress’, all the while trying to develop a potentially unstoppable war machine.
Warrioress is great fun. It’s campy and slightly daft at times but there’s a real sense of everyone pulling together here to really make something decent for next to no money. Boyask’s love of martial arts movies is clear, but more-so an understanding of how to shoot and cut movie martial arts fights. This is the Hong Kong way, not the Hollywood way. Nowadays too many movies push the camera in far too close or opt for shaky cam. Be it a stylistic choice, or sometimes simply to hide stunt doubles or fake kinetic energy, it lacks clarity. Action scenes with clarity are unfortunately losing a battle to the frantic, overly cut, eye straining theatrics of modern action cinema. Here we see everything and it’s extremely well done.
This brings me nicely on to leading lady Cecily Fay. Firstly she’s taken the term “multi-talented” a bit to the extreme. She’s an actress, ballet dancer, stunt-woman, musician, and former double European Martial arts (Pencak Silat) champion. As well as leading the film she co-wrote it, choreographed the fights, designed the costumes and did the films music too. Impressive. Not that director Ross Boyask should be outdone in the multi-tasking stakes, also writing, editing, camera operating, the director of photography and probably fetching the tea and cakes from Greggs too I’ll bet. Fay is a dynamo though. The first we see of her she’s standing stark naked in a waterfall. Right off the bat, I like her. Then she spends the rest of the 90 minute movie in countless fights, performed herself, and all magnificently choreographed. She whizzes round screen like a rocket, taking on men twice her size (she’s only ickle) and beating the living hell out of them with consummate grace and ease. There’s lots of variety too. There’s a dizzying array of different moves, no two moves seem to be the same. In addition there’s some cracking weapons work in the film too and even a Horse chase thrown in for good measure.
In addition to Fay, the support cast all have good fun. As the fellow fated warrior, White Arrow, Joelle Simpson looks very intimidating. She looks like she could snap Arnold Schwarzenegger in two if she felt so inclined. Elsewhere there’s a whole host of high kicking ladies too including Zara Phythian. Will Brenton as a cross between Hitler and Brando in Apocalypse Now, plays the villain with almost pantomime relish.
The film has some great locations and any subsequent DVD release should really come with a supplementary walking map. The natural surroundings all glisten in fantastically photographed sunshine. Fay’s score is also very impressive too. It’s not one note either – much like the film’s fights, there’s a lot of diversity in the music. It helps keep the energy up. There’s a little CG work in the film too which isn’t too shabby given the budget. I’ve seen worse appear in Seagal or Dolph Lundgren films.
In all Warrioress is highly enjoyable. It doesn’t come with expectation that a studio picture comes with, or a star name vehicle does. It just does what it sets out to with aplomb, and that is brilliant, bone-crunching, badass babes! This film also sets up a more expansive, ambitious sequel which I hope will see the light of day. It’s all good, exploitative, entertainment. I’m off to bash Cecily Fay over the head with my club and take her back to my cave. I’m not expecting to survive though.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★