KING ARTHUR (2004-AMERICA)
review by Neo


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As I have say before for those of you who has read my reviews before I became primarily focusing on recent HK movies, I was a primary Hollywood film reviewer, where I reviewed Pirates of Caribbean, talking about the genres that I love. There I talk about my childhood love of pirates and where I can still picture many years ago when I was watching this Jackie Chan against pirates. History for those who know me well, I am an ancient historian and I have a sure passion in ancient history especially a particular interest in the Romans, Greeks and Chinese. For modern, I don't really like it, but Napoleon the only one that stands out from the pack of boring modern history, where myth is quite rare. My love for ancient history is because I love to question about what is history, whether it happen or not, myth or fiction. I think those of you that know me, may even dates back a few years ago when I actually even made a website about King Arthur, though it is probably lost by now. I was fascinated by the legend of King Arthur and ever since, I have probably watched anything related to it, most notably the TV-movie- Merlin. So when I review the latest epic - King Arthur, a sense of bias will without doubt be inexistence. The reason I am writing this review is because I have a huge number of unfavourable reviews on my fascination, and it did not stop me from watching it for myself. Sure, it is not the legend and does not follow it, but since when was the legend facts??? Like Troy, the city may not even have existed, so what's wrong with this movie having a new interpretation? As someone who has been captivated by the legend of King Arthur and probably know most about it then most of those so called professional critics who claims to have 'known' the legend, I can say in my honest opinion, shedding away my obvious bias to say that I actually liked the movie very much. Did it deserve all these panning from critics? Well, I can firmly stand my ground to say a big - NO! Maybe because I am a critical historian is more willing to accept perspective, but then again may be those viewers are too traditionally minded to challenge the convention.


'Let me sing with inspiration
Of the man born of two nations,
Of Rome and of Britain...
... Arthur the blessed
Led his assault from the Great Wall...'
by the 6th century Welsh poet, Taliesin

For centuries most historians believed that King Arthur was only a legend, but that legend was based on a real hero whose actions changed the face of Britain and the world forever. Clive Owen, is 'Artorius' or Arthur, the hero of Roman and British parentage eulogized in the ancient Celtic poem. Like his loyal Knights, he sees only chaos and devastation will follow Rome's final pullout of Britain. Although, as a dedicated Christian he is desperate to return to Rome to influence the budding religion, his first loyalty is to his pagan Knights. Arthur sees his duty is to free them from their servitude to Rome so they may return to their ancestral homeland in Sarmatia.

However, before he can, he must lead his Knights of the Round Table on one last mission, deep into enemy territory on a quest of adventure and profound enlightenment. Here, Arthur, Lancelot, Galahad, Bors, Tristan, Dagonet and Gawain are forced to confront their traditional enemy: Merlin and his indigenous guerilla armies. Disdainfully called 'Woads' by the Knights for the Woad plant they use to dye their bodies, Arthur and his Knights will see these guerillas are the soul of Britain, devastated by generations of Roman rule. Now, with Rome gone, and without the help of Arthur and his knights, the invading Saxons will roll over the people like an avalanche.

Under the guidance of the shaman, Merlin and the beautiful, courageous Guinevere (Keira Knightley), Arthur will struggle to find the strength to for fill his dreams of Rome to 'become a leader in this land,' and to change the face of history.

Here, as to the performances, Clive Owen gives a mature version of King Arthur, he is controlled but at times his character depth is lacking emotions. Lancelot on the other hand shows good signs of potential and looks to be making a character - sly out of his much reduced role from the legend. Keira Knightley who was a beauty in Pirates of the Caribbean shines in her scenes, but one thing I must comment about this film is that Disney, what the hell were you thinking??? A King Arthur movie for 13 years old in US??? I think half of them don't even know who is hell King Arthur is anyway. Their decision to cut it from R to PG is just ridiculous and seeing the boxoffice taking now, I think Disney really wasn't thinking. Well, since when does Disney think anyway, the way they treat Asian movies, just see how Hero was supposed to be released like what last year and now, the release it still far from certain. Okay, I am being bias about that, but then again, which HK movie fan can say they are not angry with Disney, alright - Miramax. Okay, back to the performance, of all the cast, the FAT guy, dunno his name steals the show with his jokes and easy going relax performance.

Overall, director Fuqiue uses close up camera work from start to finish which is obviously his trademark, but what it all amount to is the ultimate question of whether or not King Arthur delivers its critical panning? Personally I reckon it does not, but that's viewing it from someone who is willing to accept new interpretations. Well, as far as I am concern, this version of King Arthur was in fact the one written by this M guy in the 4th century, and if you really want to know, I will expose an awful truth and that's the fact that the legend is actually created by Hollywood. May be that's not true, but as far as my research goes, and my great interest and knowledge in King Arthur tells me that I am pretty much right. Overall, King Arthur may not be the most flawless movie, but it definitely did not deserves its critical panning and box office flopping.

I rate it 8.5/10

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Product Title : King Arthur
Artist Name(s) : Clive Owen| Keira Knightley| |
Language : English |
Duration : 120 minutes
Reviewed by Neo (Andrew) - July 2004