Review by James Lindorf
From producer, writer, director and star, Cecily Fay, comes Babes with Blades: The Flower of Sarnia, the first entry into a possible intergalactic steampunk fight for freedom saga. The movie stars UK stuntwomen from the infamous Babes with Blades Theater Group: Cecily Fay (Prometheus, The Huntsman: Winters War), Lauren Okadigbo (Justice League, Wonder Woman), Yennis Cheung (Skyfall, Death Race 4), and punk icon John Robb. Fay stars as Azura, possibly the last of the Sarnian race of fearsome warriors, in the galaxy who survives only by staying hidden from the guards on the mining planet of Draiga. Once discovered, she is forced to fight to the death in gladiator matches for Visray Section Commander Sorrentine and the inhabitants of Draiga. Her only hope is to become a ferocious fighter like her ancestors and to meet up with a group of human resistance fighters, as they put a plot for independence into motion. Babes with Blades will make its US debut on DVD and most digital platforms on January 2, 2018, thanks to distributor Broken Glass Pictures.
Because this is a film for stunt people, by stunt people, the action and the stunt choreography are the strongest components of the film. It features the use of multiple martial arts styles and various weapons. As Azura progresses from fight to fight, each of her opponents offers the chance for another skill to be put on display. I think my personal favorite was the fight that involved a combination of sword and shield. It is a bit odd that this intergalactic story is set at an unknown point in time, and all but one of the weapons are medieval styled. There is only one firearm. It looks like a pirate’s weapon and fires concussion blasts, which is more interesting than effective. The biggest disappointment for me was that Fay, as a director, made the choice to shoot the action like most other modern directors. Instead of pulling back and really showcasing the stunt work being done, the majority of the action is up close with lots of quick cuts.
My favorite acting performance might be the one turned in by John Robb. He may not be the best actor, but he might hold world record scene chewing. He plays Sef, the gladiators slave master, and he is always at a 12. Some of the other acting is passable, unfortunately, I don’t think this performance will win Fay any major staring roles. I do think she possess a foundation that can be built upon, and maybe she can grow as an actor in the next potential installment of Babe with Blades. Fay is extremely athletic and excels at the fight scenes, most of which are shot in a way that you don’t notice that she is only 4’8”, with actors like Lauren Okadigbo towering over her.
The visual style of the movie is decidedly independent, to the point that it looks like I am watching an up-resed episode of Hercules or Xena. That isn’t where the comparison to that style of show ends either. The cinematography and acting are almost on par with those shows. So, if you are feeling nostalgic for those classic 90’s shows and want to watch a mythical hero take on the evil of the universe, this movie will definitely fill that void. It will also please steampunk fans, with its abundance of corsets, leather work, goggles and gears. Or if you just want to see women kick ass in a low budget Xena meets Gladiator meets Kill Bill film, this could be the one for you.
The film will arrive on DVD & VOD January 2.
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