Viking Destiny – review

   Let’s talk about the title. Viking Destiny. Viking. Destiny. Not ‘A Viking’s Destiny’ or ‘Destiny of the Viking’. Viking Destiny. Is it about the destiny of the Viking people? Well, it sort of is. Let me explain, even if it does not explain, satisfactorily, the terrible title. 

   The Viking king, Asmund of Volsung (Andrew Whipp) leaves his pregnant wife, queen Alva (Victoria Broom) in labour because his people are in a battle for the kingdom. Though they are victorious in battle, the queen dies whilst giving birth to a baby girl. 

   Distraught and confused, his duplicitous brother, prince Bard (Timo Nieminen) persuades him to swap his daughter, who he says is cursed due to his absence at her birth, for his son, who is not only a male heir but will show his people and potential enemies, that he is not weak. The king agrees. 

   Twenty-one years later, Helle (Anna Demetriou), unknown to her, daughter of the king, is being secretly trained by Lord Soini (Will Mellor). She is a capable warrior. Elsewhere, the king watches his son’s, Hakon (Taylor Frost), feeble attempts at sword wielding. He is not a warrior. 

    Bard, ever egged on by the god of mischief, Loki (Murray McArthur), tells his niece, who still believe him to be her father, that to be favoured by the king, she must defeat his enemy, a mystical animal that dwells in caves. Craving his favour, Helle goes to the caves. 

   It is a trap and Bard sends men to kill her and her cousin, who has gone with her in an attempt to persuade her that she would be a better heir to the kingdom, as neither knew the other was with the wrong father. As they fight for their lives in the caves, Asmund is awakened by a dream. He comes and saves Helle, but is immediately killed by Bard’s men. 

   Hakon allows Helle to escape whilst he tries to fend off Bard’s men. She escapes and runs off to the forest. Bard, now the ruler of Volsung, is a tyrant. Loki still whispers in his ear and he wants the head of Helle. 

    Helle meets Vern (Laurence O’Fuarain), Tarburn (paul freeman) and Tait (Kajsa Mohammar) who are part of a group of travellers. She settles with them. Back in Volsung Lord Soini has gathered all those were loyal to the Asmund and gone in search of Helle. Bard has his right-hand man, Kirkwood (Ian Beattie), also out searching for the princess. 

   Helle, now found by Lord Soini and those loyal to her as the rightful heir to Volsung, is reluctant to go to war. She is visited by Odin (Terence Stamp), who persuades her it would be in her best interest. Shortly after embracing her duties as a leader and also persuading the travellers that it is in their best interest to fight as well, Bard and his cronies find them. 

   A battle ensues. Helle and her support crew win and she takes her mantle as the rightful queen of Volsung. The end. 

    This is not on a scale of some of my recent reviews, in terms of terrible, but it is still pretty bad. It looks quite good, as in the costumes, not the filming. The filming is patchy. No, that is not true, the filming is good. It is the editorial choices that are bad. Especially with the battle or fight scenes. 

   A lot of the largish scale battle scenes just look like LARPing, with everybody moving with such careful, staccato precision, you just don’t believe they are fighting. In the smaller, better-choreographed fights – Helle training, Bard and Helle, Asmund killing Steiner (Martyn Ford) – the fights look quite good, which make the battles look even worse in contrast. 

   The IMDB description of the film is more exciting than the actual film is. She does, indeed, flee her kingdom but only as far as the forest. That’s hardly travelling far and wide. The acting is good, though I am sure Terence Stamp only turned up for the pay cheque. Everyone commits to their part, such as it is, with Demetriou’s Helle and Nieminen’s Bard being the standouts. 

   Written, directed and produced by David L. G. Hughes – way too much name – it is more a case of jack-of-all-trades and master of none. The story is under written, the directing lax. With a relatively okay set up and stakes high enough to drive the story, Hughes completely ignores any sort of story arc or escalation of tension, going for easy mean, with Bard being bad, snarling throwaway lines. 

   This film is only slightly saved by the commitment of the actors to the material. A weaker cast would have made this film an absolute disaster and totally unwatchable. It is still not very good and I could not truly recommend watching it unless you love everything Viking. 

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