August 10, 2018 The Last Warrior (Movie Review)
As opposed to 1999’s The 13th Warrior, 1981’s The Road Warrior, the 1980’s pro-grappler The Ultimate Warrior, and the 2011 Tom Hardy punch-fest simply titled Warrior, in 2018, we have a new film called The Last Warrior. Originally called The Scythian, the new title of The Last Warrior may sound rather generic in comparison, but it does give the audience a better idea of what to expect. What is a ‘Scythian’ anyway?
The Scythians were a race of people who lived in the Eurasian Steppes, with roots in Iran. Or possibly races of people, as they were spread far and wide. There are references to them popping up in Assyria and even China. Ancient Greek historians used them as a byword for barbarism, and they became the subject of less-than-stellar comparisons ever since. By the 17th and 18th Centuries, it was thought that the Russians were their descendants, and literature at the time often referred to them as ‘Scythians’ for artistic license. Which is perhaps why Russian Director Rustam Mosafir (Rozysk 2 2013, Begletsy 2014) and Writer Vadim Golovanov (Zdravstvuyte, My Vasha Krysha 2006, Jurnalugy 2018) produced a film about the last surviving ones.
Arriving to VOD, Digital HD, as well as Blu-ray/DVD on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 via 4Digital Media, The Last Warrior is about Lutobor (Aleksey Faddeev: Boris Godunov 2012. Proshchay, Iyubimaya! series). He is a soldier in 13th Century Eurasia, and he is stuck between a series of inter-tribal conflicts. One night, a pack of Scythian bandits attack his home and kidnap his wife and child. Now he must track them down and save his family. To do that, he has to trust a Scythian called Marten (Aleksandr Kuznetsov: Leto 2018, Spitak 2018) to be his guide. Can they make it across the Steppes? Or will they die trying?
The Last Warrior comes with English subtitles as well as dubbing and runs for approximately 105 minutes. That is mercifully humble compared to some of its Hollywood historical-fantasy rivals. The London Post even described it as “Games of Thrones meets Braveheart,” but does it live up to that comparison? Is this Scythian slasher worth seeking? Or does it fall short beside its Warrior brethren?
Unlike 1995’s Braveheart, it is not based on a literal historic event. So, it does not have to worry about doing the Steppe equivalent of removing the bridge from the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Though unlike Game of Thrones, it does have to worry about looking like an actual Eurasian tribal dwelling than a fantasy land. However, it fits the Middle-Ages bill looks-wise. The armour, outfits and scenery (shot on location in the Crimea) seem authentic enough. Granted, one is unlikely to use it as a guide to 13th Century Eurasian construction, culture, and customs, but it works out well for an action film.
It looks fine on-screen too, if a little standard. Washed-out colors, grey and blue filters, etc. It is a dour setting, and the camera helps accentuate that. Basically, if you have seen any film in this genre post The Lord of the Rings series, then they know what to expect. Though it has more in connection with 1982’s Conan the Barbarian than The Lord of the Rings, with its Eurasian setting, brutal characters and revenge story. Good and bad is not as simple as separating characters into Orcs or Hobbits. The Scythians are not harsh for the hell of it, and Lutobor’s friends are not angels either. It offers enough political intrigue and grey-area morality to keep the audience guessing.
This shows particularly well with Lutobor and Marten. The former is the heroic soldier, loyal to his leader and driven by his mission to save his family. The latter is a cast-out bandit, a typical rogue one would expect to dump his “buddy” as soon as he could. Yet Lutobor is not afraid to get his hands dirty, and Marten keeps his figurative cards close to his chest for most of the film. Lutobor’s wife, Tatiana (Izmaylova Vasilisa), is not humbly waiting with the Wolves either, as the film checks in on her and her own attempts to get away with her baby boy.
It is hard to determine acting without being a Russian speaker. Faddeev and Kuznetsov do a good job inhabiting their characters, and gel rather well on screen. The rest of the cast do reasonably well here as warriors and nomads too. The fight scenes are fun to watch too, when the camera can keep up with the action. It usually catches the swings and strikes in time. But sometimes, usually in a single-shot sequence, the camera can lose its bearings. The editing takes some odd turns, either cutting like it is missing some in-between footage, or avoiding certain impacts. It does not ruin the film’s pace or affect the story, but it makes the action scenes look rougher than they should be.
Despite any shortcomings, The Last Warrior is a fun and intriguing action film. The fight scenes and stunts are impressive, and it may be what will bring the audience in. That in mind, it has enough heart and brain to make them stay until the end. As such, it is worth a watch and that is why CrypticRock gives The Last Warrior 4 out of 5 stars.