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Ironclad: Battle for Blood (Blu-ray Review)

Ironclad Battle for Blood Brace yourselves for another brutal battle, as one of the few survivors of the Great Siege of Rochester Castle fights to protect his family s estate from fierce Celtic raiders. With a new battleground and a new enemy, IRONCLAD: BATTLE FOR BLOOD promises to deliver the same ferocious, adrenaline-filled action and gory kills that defined IRONCLAD. It s 1216, just one year after the battle at Rochester Castle, and a new enemy threatens English life that s far more terrifying than King John – bands of Celtic raiders, stealing livestock and killing anyone who gets in their way. After the death of their father at the hands of these raiders, siblings Hubert, Blanche and Kate and their cousin Guy are determined to defeat them, once and for all.

 

Ironclad - Battle for Blood

Film 

In 2011 there was a trailer for a little-known historical epic called Ironclad, which featured James Purefoy, Paul Giamatti, Brian Cox, Charles Dance, and several other familiar faces. It was the story of a small group of Templar Knights who were to hold Rochester Castle from the ruthless King John. The movie was epic fun and bloody as hell, too. Fast forward it three years and now we have the sequel entitled Ironclad: Battle for Blood, which is coincidentally directed and co-written by the first film’s writer/director, Jonathan English. Johnny English? I’m kidding.

In this second chapter the timeframe is that of a survivor of the earlier Rochester skirmish that laid waste to a lot of a folk. Guy (Tom Austen) is a mercenary, who also pit fights within the confines of the castle grounds for coin.  On the outskirts of Castle Rochester a roving band of Scottish Tribesman try to overtake the castle by any means necessary. They’re out for blood and they’ll have it. That’s essentially what Ironclad: Battle for Blood is all about. It doesn’t have the budget to be anymore than that and is a shadow of the first film.

This sequel gets some fresh blood in as no one that survived the first film’s battles makes an appearance here – the main selling point is Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley, who isn’t really in the film all that much, and is more or less a cameo. Battle for Blood is a bit disjointed in that it has to remain a bot self-contained, because the budget does not allow it to go anywhere outside. It’s a fine low budget filmmaking tool, if only the story were a bot stronger. Guy’s constant moping and not being able to decide on whether he should properly represent his family’s honor gets old real fast. As he’s a very morose character when not swinging a sword.

All’s not lost on this venture, because the battle and close quarter fight scenes are actually pretty cool and gory. You will see many folks get cleaved right down the middle, with exquisite insert shots of the carnage. Stuff like that made the weaker parts of the film tolerable. It still doesn’t hold a candle to the first film but we have to get past all of that. If you’re a history buff then you’ll know, as it’s constantly done, the filmmakers have tweaked the actual events around a bit.

Given a proper budget like he was given in the first Ironclad film – Jonathan English has potential to deliver a pretty damn good product. I feel as though Ironclad: Battle for Blood was rushed through production along with the script. Hey, maybe they had a timeframe to fulfill in making the movie? The first film was shot in Wales and this sequel was shot in Serbia. I reckon it’s cheaper to shoot in Serbia. Who knows. If you want to see some nice gore then give Ironclad: Battle for Blood a shot otherwise stick to the first film in this franchise. Wow, a franchise? Honestly, I would not be surprised if they made a DTV part three.

 

Ironclad Battle for Blood

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Ironclad: Battle for Blood has a peculiar palette in that it looks very washed out as if the battles and overall environment were taking place in overcast skies. This is England after all by way of Eastern Europe. Contrast levels are tweaked just a bit and sharpness levels hold steady.

Depth: Grain is present and appears natural, adding a nice layer to the grit and debris all around.

Black Levels: Black levels rarely crush and the interior shots lit by candlelight are nice and inviting.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is limited, as well, in that RED is rich and vibrant, as is war paint and some of the outfits the Scottish folk wear.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looks as healthy as can be until they start getting hacked to pieces.

Noise/Artifacts: I did not encounter any instances of noise or artifacts.

 

Ironclad Battle for Blood

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: This lossless soundtrack is probably the best part of the film overall. It will bash and batter you all over the place and watch out when those axes and maces come down on people’s faces. Woah, I’m a poet and didn’t know it. 😉

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE does get in a good rumble here and there, mostly during the battle scenes.

Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels to kick it up a notch, as you will hear folks try to climb into the castle by other means and they will creep around back there. The rear channels do their job nicely.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are clear and loud. Even during the screaming and mayhem everyone that has a line can be heard without a problem.

 

Ironclad - Battle for Blood

Extras 

Ironclad: Battle for Blood contains two special features – a featurette and a theatrical trailer. Both are presented in highs definition.

  • The Making of Ironclad: Battle for Blood (HD) – Here’s a featurette that focuses on the making of the film along with some interviews with the cast and crew. It’s nothing special but it’s also not as annoying as these things usually are.
  • Trailer (HD) – The theatrical trailer for Ironclad: Battle for Blood is presented in high definition.

Ironclad  Battle for Blood

Summary 

Ironclad: Battle for Blood is nowhere near as good or entertaining as the first film. It’s limited by budget and star power and I wonder why it was made at all. The Blu-ray, however, is top notch in terms of specifications. The supplements are slightly limited, but otherwise, it’s an all right Blu-ray offering. If you enjoyed the first film then I leave it up to you as to whether or not you should check out this sequel.

 

 

 

Order Ironclad: Battle for Blood on Blu-ray!

Ironclad Battle for Blood

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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