It’s amazing what you can get from Thailand…. their own DVD’s these days are almost completely without English subtitles for reasons and logic that just escapes this lil’ Catgirl.
However, be that as it may,… it actually is a pretty good place to get Russian or European films with English subtitles that somehow missed receiving them in their own country.
My latest such acquisition is the Russian Sword & Sorcery epic “Wolfhound”. I watched it just the other evening, and so now it’s time to wade in with my review….
Our synopsis reads: “The last remaining member of a slaughtered tribe escapes his enslavement and grows up to become a fearless warrior. As he pursues revenge against all odds for his family’s murder, his quest intertwines with a princess’s larger war against a brutal tyrant who would destroy everyone in his path.”
Hmmmmm? It sounds all “Conan-ish” alright, but do the Russians know didddly about that whole barbarian ethos thingee? Will we get sufficient sword swinging testosterone fueled vengeance to satisfy our need for bloody and vicarious thrills? I guess it’s up to your Favorite Catgirl Princess to find out!
So… whatcha waitin’ for? “Read On”, o’ gentle reader!!
This one starts out pretty much just like that “other movie with our favorite Cimmerian savage”…… A peaceful village, a little boy and his father the village blacksmith…. a loving mom…… and a vicious raid by psychotic killers bent on slaughtering everyone in sight. (Gotta get that whole revenge vibe going quick….) Naturally our young hero survives… Somebody needs some killing, and it’s up to him to grow up all big and strong to get it done.
We jump ahead here after the Titles roll….. as an ominous, scarred, fuzzy guy and his pet bat…. (yep..pet bat!!) are sneaking up on the dark mountaintop fortress of the raiders and their warlord, the Maneater. It’s our hero, of course, all ready to begin his terrible, savage, “barbarian-y” vengeance thing…. and he doesn’t waste any time getting right to it. Pretty much his plan seems to be a simple one…. sneak into the fortress, killing anybody unlucky enough to cross his path and look for the Maneater…. the guy with the wolf head tattoo who killed his dad … and then go all hack and slash on the mysterious warlord who controls them all….. Zhardoba!!
As with all such plans, it doesn’t go quite that easy (and they never.. ever do)…. our hero finds the guy who killed his dad alright, but ends up setting the whole fortress ablaze and getting stuck with a slave girl he saves from a “fate worse than death”. They both almost die in the resulting inferno, but luckily they happen across the wise old wizard that built the place and who knows the secret passages like the back of his hand. (Good thing too… even if he is blinder than Wolfhound’s bat!) After the prerequisite battle with the Maneater’s vicious minions, and some dangerous running about on the maze of flaming scaffolds and rope bridges that seem to make up the bulk of the evil lair, they escape and Wolfhound decides he must travel to the city of Galirad if he’s ever to find the Warlord Zhadoba and sate his need for revenge.
Well… first he’s gonna have to find someplace to unload the slave girl Niilit and the wizard Tilorn… Not that he doesn’t like them mind you, it’s just cramping his whole “bloody road of vengeance” thingee he’s got going on…. He thinks his got just the ticket when he finds a merchant caravan headed their way, but… d’oh!! They don’t want to be saddled with them either! Sigh… What’s a brutal, yet caring barbarian to do? The only thing he knows how to do well. Yep…. buy them passage by getting himself signed on as a caravan guard… but first he’s gotta whip all the other guards in some hand to hand action.
It isn’t long before trouble catches up with them…. Yep, Zhadoba and his raiders swoop in and start killing everybody as they frantically look for someone… Seems there’s more going on with this caravan than meets the eye…. Wolfhound saves the day, and even manages to chop off Zhadoba’s hand…. all without recognizing him from the massacre at his village all those years ago. (Strange considering Zhadoba wears the funkiest skull helmet outside of a Heavy Metal band…)
What our hero doesn’t know is that the Princess Elin of Galirad is traveling incognito with the caravan, doing the whole “dress as a boy” thing. You know…. that trick that always works in these movies, even if you end up looking like the absolutely cutest “boy” around…. Anyway, Wolfhound gets all disappointed at having been soooo, soooo close to his Mortal Enemy, but there’s no point ditching his new friends now, especially since they assure him that the best way to run into Zhadoba again is to continue to Galirad… seems Zhadoba wants something.. or someone… there very, very badly.
Galirad itself is a truly nifty looking place… a cursed city under an eternal dark cloud that keeps it frozen even in the middle of the summer. Gotta love that! Its grungy and dark and ever so Russian!! Lots of strange slavic style buildings and the like…. so much different from the usual “faux medieval” look you usually get in Sword & Sorcery films… Neko loved these sets, and so will you… they truly captured the feel of a mysterious Russian legend. Big thumbs up for these!
After an abortive attempt to assassinate Princess Elin is thwarted by Wolfhound and desperate to save the town from its curse and prevent Zhadoba from sacking it, the King of Galirad pledges the hand of his daughter Elen to Vinitar, the warrior son of the Maneater and Zhadoba’s deadly rival. Facing a long journey to the fortress of her future husband, she asks Wolfhound to be her bodyguard on this dangerous trek. His friends decide to take another route, looking to open the way beyond a mountainous legend called Heaven’s Gate. But…. realizing it is the princess that Zhadoba seeks, he agrees to guard the princess on her perilous journey, but finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of treachery and mysterious events that reveal the true aim of this trip… a battle to save all humanity from the reawakening of the Goddess of Murder, imprisoned beyond the same mystical Heaven’s Gate. Guess who is the key to that prison? Yep….
Of course… on the way our Princess falls for our brooding, scarred, and ever so hunky hero…. But he’s an honorable guy, you see. (And as an ex-slave, feels himself unworthy of her love… Ahhh! So tragic!! Sniff, sniff!!) Through dangerous lands… up against hostile tribesmen… and even in the face of ghosts and evil spirits summoned by the devotee’s of the Goddess of Murder, Wolfhound just keeps kicking all kinds of serious butt – barbarian style. Finally though, he is drugged by a treacherous villain within their own ranks, and the princess is taken!! OMG!!!
I can’t really tell you who the bad guy in their party is, not without spoilin’ things for you, but let’s just say everybody is gonna meet up at Heaven’s Gate. Then we get the big special effects laden battle to end all all battles between good ol’ Wolfhound and the Goddess. Luckily, the God of Thunderstorms seems to back our hero, and uses his lighting to power up Wolfhound’s sword for the job. BANG!! KRACKLE!!! ZAAAAP!! ARRRRGHHH!!!
Will Wolfhound win this momentous battle? Will he use his chosen “Pointy Weapon of Death” to go all crazy ass barbarian on the evil Zhadoba? Will he get the hand of the lovely Princess? Heck…. will we ever find out what is soooo cool about having your own pet bat? Yes… yes, yes, all that and more. But to know how exactly it all goes down, Neko thinks you are going to want to see this one for yourself.
The Thai DVD for this one…. Sigh. I wish I could say it was a bargain and well worth budget conscious types grabbing for themselves. Unfortunately, even though it does indeed have those English subtitles… and they ARE accurate and timed properly… there is a peculiar problem with this disc. It’s supposed to be a 16:9 Wide screen format, but instead, it isn’t….. it’s a weird 4:3 format. Everybody ends up looking all squooshed…. D’oh!! WAAAAHHHH!!! Squooshed all badddd!! Neko no like!! This lil’ Catgirl was able to fix that… (thank goodness for my Korean Malata DVD player and it’s wonderful X-Y scaling feature)….. but most of you will be serious ticked off by this. My suggestion is to instead wait till this August for the promised Region 1 release, assuming you haven’t already grabbed the Region 2 German release. Sorry Thailand…. you really messed this one up…
As for the movie itself…. Well, Neko liked “Wolfhound” overall… it had enough action, swordplay, magic and romance for any two movies….. and it was definitely a class act from a budgetary standpoint looking very polished and professional. So, I give this one 4 “Meows” out of 5 with only a slight hiss of annoyance for the disc itself. Yep…. if Wolfhound finds himself needing to venture forth again sometime and lay the savage beatdown on some more medieval Slavic menaces in the future, Neko-chan is gonna want to be there for it.
Yes… and as always, I hunted down a Trailer for ya all…(no review is really complete with a good Trailer after all….Hehehehe!!)