Throw on some war paint, pray to your Pagan god (or gods, we don’t judge), and get ready to fight to the death to defend your dying race. We’ve gone medieval Mad Max in The Last Warrior (previously known as The Scythian)-the epic new fantasy that takes us across ancient Russia, following two sworn enemies who must work together in order to survive the journey.
A thousand years ago, the tides are changing across Central Eurasia. The once brave and feared warriors, The Scythians, are dwindling. They are now diminished to a small tribe of few civilians and scattered mercenaries – pillaging and killing to stave off the extinction of their family clan. Christianity has taken over the continent, and the Russians plan to take control of the Pagan lands. And with it, the last of The Scythians.
During one of these such mercenary raids, Lutobor (Aleksey Faddeev), a skilled warrior and right-hand to the prince of Tmutarakan, Lord Oleg (Yuriy Tsurillo), learns his wife Tatyana (Izmaylova Vasilisa) and young child have been kidnapped. Lutobor will stop at nothing to rescue them, storming head first toward the den of the assassins known as the ‘Wolves of Ares’, taking with him his very own Scythian captive, Marten (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) along the journey.
The pair are sworn enemies; Lutobor of the Christians, Marten the pagan Scythian tribe, betrayed by his comrades during the capture of Lutobor‘s family. If they are to survive the various foes and nomadic clans along their journey, they must put differences aside and forge trust where there is none.
“If they are to survive the various foes and nomadic clans along their journey, they must put differences aside and forge trust where there is none.. “
The Scythians, desperate to protect their remaining few, propose a trade. Lutobor will have his wife and son returned unharmed should he assassinate his own prince, Lord Oleg. In a Shakespearean turn of the tables, the prince conspires to fake his own death as Lutobor storms the Scythian camp, a fugitive on the run.
If you’ve been starved for a fully realized, action-packed romp in similar vein to genre standouts Sin City (2005) and 300 (2006), fret no more. Our misfit Scythian and fugitive warrior hack, slash, and maim their way through the Russian territory. The fight sequences sometimes as wild as the pagan costuming; including a case of mistaken identity and a wolf in sheep’s clothes, a battle to the death with a drug-induced ‘ogre’, and a nose clean smacked off a face.
The characters yield a violent, unrelenting rage – and so does the director of photography and camera operator chasing them across the tundra with a quick-footed attentiveness, it would seem. In one of the first fight sequences of the film, the camera is at the center of the action as the players swirl around it, each hitting their mark and meeting their end in perfect queue to be captured during an artfully orchestrated long take. Marten bobs and dodges, narrowly avoiding the camera and bringing down his opponents, one after another.
“The characters yield a violent, unrelenting rage – and so does the Director of Photography and Camera Operator chasing them across the tundra..”
Though the violence is champion in Rustam Mosafir’s The Last Warrior, it is our two unique leads who steal the show. Lutobor is the more reserved and tightly laced of the two. He is the muscle, a wall of honor and a brawn that must be provoked before ultimately snapping. Marten, aptly nicknamed ‘Weasel’, is an interesting co-pilot. He is not the standard warrior type – not scrawny – but definitely not intimidating in stature. What Marten lacks in intimidation he makes up in nimbleness and determination, dancing and weaving through battle with a grace his character definitely had to work tirelessly to master in an effort to make up for his physical shortcomings.
And while The Last Warrior is filled with gore, violence and mayhem – there were moments I found myself comparing the journey to Princess Buttercup and the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride, or the wild and almost-feral Lost Boys of Peter Pan. There is a whimsy in the violence – whether it be powdered Mohawks, gold leaf war paint, or the wild Bee-hive masks of the ‘Tree people’. We are in a Fantasy land. This one just has arrows, swords, and a heck of a lot of murder.
Sometimes old gods make way for the new. Traditions are meant to be made and broken. Honor is found on the battlefield. And, movies where medieval mercenaries wear cool make-up and kickass in the desert will never be not fun to watch.
You heard me.
The Last Warrior celebrated its North American premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal on July 15th. The film previously premiered at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. The film is represented by the CTB Film Company and will be distributed on blu-ray/dvd and VOD August 14th through 4Digital Media.
Check out more of Nightmare on Film Street’s Fantasia Fest Coverage here, and be sure to sound off with your thoughts over on Twitter and in our Facebook Group!