12th Feb2018

‘Gathering of Heroes: Legend of the Seven Swords’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Mark Steven Grove, Sara Salazar, Lauren Melone, Trygve Lode, Sam Del Rio, Michelle Grove, Justin McQueede, Brian D. Cahill, Debra McMichael, Kristie Griever, Martin Kove, Christopher Atkins, Gary Sirchia | Written and Directed by Mark Steven Grove

gathering-heroes-poster

In the mystical realm of Ryntia, the forces of the underworld are aligning to unleash a plague of evil upon the surface. The deadly bat-like Blood Reavers, the Saurian Maurauders, the Orcish Warmongers and the feline Shadow-cat mercenaries have pledged their respective clans to the service of Bre’Gwen, queen of the deep elves. Together they seek to destroy the human and Elven kingdoms and rule all of Ryntia in the name of evil. But even with their combined strength, Bre’Gwen’s forces are no match for the powerful Grayraven kingdom led by the majestic king, Garrick Grayraven. To ensure their success, Bre’gwen forges an alliance with an unlikely human who holds the secret to acquiring a powerful artifact that will allow them to summon and control an army of undead warriors from centuries past. Guided by fragmented visions, a mysterious Oracle gathers seven unlikely heroes to face the threat. A heroic knight, a deep elf sorceress, an eccentric bard, a silver elf druid, a righteous…

Gathering of Heroes: Legend of the Seven Swords is the latest film (yet not actually the latest – due to release schedules one of Groves later films, Star Raiders, debuted first) from stuntman/actor/writer/director Mark Steven Grove, a fantasy tale that plays out like one of those “lesser” TV cash-ins that debuted after the success of Xena and Hercules in the late 90s – like The Adventures of Sinbad. Feeling very much like a LARP come to life, Gathering of Heroes: Legend of the Seven Swords is in the vein of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Dungeons and Dragons movies! Grove’s film even features a [CGI] nod to the action-adventure fantasy films of Ray Harryhausen, with the films band of heroes taking on an army of skeletons… yet it’s a film that is hampered by a low budget and, despite trying hard, fails to capture that certain “je ne sais quoi” the made the original(s) so great.

If there’s one thing that doesn’t suffer due to the films low budget is the stunt work. Writer/director and star (he’s a one-man filmmaking machine it seems) Mark Steven Grove really knows how to put a fight scene together, no matter the budget and whatever the choreography – be it martail arts, sword work, etc., and how to film a fight to make it look as good as possible without relying on the trickery of Hollywood blockbusters (excessive wire work, CGI enhancement etc.)

Also on the plus side, the audience of hardcore RPG fans, LARPers and the like, will probably love just how well-rounded the universe of Gathering of Heroes: Legend of the Seven Swords is. Featuring tropes and stereotypes of the genre – rogues, wizards, warriors, healers, etc., and the usual gaggle of villains and monsters, the film is a fantasy-fans dream. However it comes at a price. The opening of the film features an exhaustive amount of scene setting, an exposition-heavy narration that will undoubtedly turn off those unfamiliar with the genre. There’s also a real moral centre to the film… More than just the usual good vs. evil, the movie talks about prejudice, carving out your own path in the world despite societal pressures and more. It might not sound like much but it adds an extra layer of depth to Gathering of Heroes already complex story.

Given that this movie was made BEFORE the Casper Van Dien starring sci-fi actioner Star Raiders, Gathering of Heroes: Legend of the Seven Swords actually shows just how far Grove has progressed as a filmmaker – the pieces are all here: the ideas, the execution, hell, even the ambitiousness, but it doesn’t quite gel together. However I thinkĀ Star Raiders did have one thing that this movie lacks. Fun. Gathering of Heroes takes things waaaay too seriously and I think that’s, sadly, to its detriment.

Gathering of Heroes: Legend of the Seven Swords is available now on Amazon Prime Video.

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