Film Review by FIORE
BLOOD AND GLORY, an Indie film from South Africa, brought to you by Sean Else, who wrote and directed, is a template sports tale, but plays exceptionally well thanks to solid acting, cinematography and editing. It’s already two years old, as it was released overseas in 2016; however, it will make its American premiere this weekend. The version I was able to see was the International cut. I enjoyed this film, even though the plot was predictable.
These types of films are fairly common. Burt Reynolds in THE LONGEST YARD, probably one of his best, Sly Stallone in VICTORY, and myriad others tell the tale of prisoners who seek their freedom, or a portion of it, through a challenge game. In BLOOD AND GLORY, the combatants are the British and the Boers, and the game is rugby.
At the risk of alienating my readers across the pond, I must say most European sports are lame. They are incredibly boring and nonsensical, especially soccer, which pundits have been trying to push here in America for decades. While it is effective for deleting excessive energy from little tikes, is does not capture American athletic spirit. Rugby is the exception. It’s a grueling sport played by craggy men and not dancers in shorts.
Grant Swanby is Colonel Swannel, a maniacal tyrant who runs a prison camp for the British. Swannel thinks the Boers are sub humans and should be treated worst than dogs; much like how progressives in this country view conservatives. But, Swannel has a passion for rugby, so much so, that he used his influence to bring Lieutenant Butler into his camp. Butler is serving in the King’s army, but is also one of the nation’s premiere rugby players. Butler is played by Rudy Halgryn.
Into this caldron, William Morkel, played by Stian Bam, is thrown. Morkel, a simple farmer, is witness to the senseless slaughter of his wife and son. When he attempts retaliation, he is captured and sent to Swannel’s camp. The prisoners are subjected to torture and ridicule, but when a young lad is threatened with death, Morkel parlays the boy’s life into a rugby match between the prisoners and the guards. Patrick Connolly and Altus Theart co-star as key prisoners. Morkel earns a sympathetic follower in Katherine, played by Charlotte Sal, the daughter of the island’s governor.
Once the game begins, you can readily envision the outcome and the film’s conclusion, but it’s still a hoot to watch. Director of Photography Adam Bentel and Editor Quinn Lubbe combine for enough action and tension to mesmerize the viewer regardless of predictability. In a rare combination, Lubbe is also the music scorer for the film. His tunes are the closest to Rammstein you’ll find in movie soundtracks.
BLOOD AND GLORY throws cold water on the narrative prejudice occurs between races. There isn’t physical difference between the British and the Boers, yet the level of cruelty between them is brutal. The only hatred more intense is that of Canadians against American hockey players.
BLOOD AND GLORY offers nothing new to a story we’ve all seen numerous times, but the production and thespian endeavors make it worthwhile. It’s a fun film, with a sports background, that, thankfully, isn’t soccer.