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Friday, March 25, 2011

10,000 A.D.: LEGEND OF THE BLACK PEARL -- DVD review by porfle

A worthy effort to do something epic on a low budget without resorting to all the usual exploitation elements, 10,000 A.D.: LEGEND OF THE BLACK PEARL (2010) works hard to impress but fails to entertain.

After a ROAD WARRIOR-like montage of apocalyptic images, we see a future Earth in which all of civilization has been reduced to two tribes--the warrior Hurons and the weaker Plaebians.  When a new threat appears in the form of shadowlike wraiths known as the Sinasu, who are bent on destroying them both, a young Huron named Karupi (Julian Perez) must fulfill his destiny to become the savior of mankind. 

Since Karupi's mentor Tukten (Loukas Papas) has disappeared, another warrior, Ergo (writer and co-director Raul Gasteazoro) steps in to take his place.  But Ergo leads Karupi down a different path that may end in ruin.  Meanwhile, Maitreya (Edgar Feliciano) rises from among the Plaebians to play a surprising role in the ultimate fate of humanity.

The first thing I noticed about this film is that it's filled with stunning location photography, shot in a number of national parks in various countries by a skeleton crew.  Most mainstream films would kill for such a breathtaking array of lush, panoramic backdrops as those seen here.  The beautiful beachfront scenes in Puerto Rico alone are enough to help BLACK PEARL transcend its low budget, and they're only a small part of the visual splendor that's maintained right up until the final shot.

Unfortunately, along with this comes a screenplay that's both exceedingly talky and hard to follow.  The story moves at a snail's pace while characters assail each other with stilted dialogue ("Do not kindle my slowly burning fire...the wick is short and the scar long") delivered in a melodramatic, mock-classical style that's beyond the abilities of most of the cast. 

The thinly-disguised political message is simplistic (the word "Sinasu" gives it away pretty quick) while the film's efforts to be taken seriously grow tiresome.  Much of the murky narrative may leave you scratching your head trying to figure it all out.

Relieving the solemnity at various points are some fight scenes that are shot in confusing fashion.  Filmed in "chunks" (as one of the directors puts it in the commentary), these sequences are clumsily choreographed with most of the actors displaying a lack of martial arts skills that the choppy editing and shaky-cam fail to disguise. 

More successful are a distinctly homoerotic training sequence with Kurupi and Ergo, and Ergo's short-lived romance with a beautiful blonde warrior woman named Lana (Lilly Husbands), both of which were shot on the beach in Puerto Rico.  In regard to special effects, the decision to forego CGI in favor of some imaginative camera tricks and other visual sleight-of-hand was a wise one.  The film also benefits from an exceptional musical score.

The DVD from Indican Pictures is in 4x3 full frame with Dolby Digital sound.  No subtitles, except for in the early scenes when the characters are speaking in their native language.  Extras consist of a commentary with co-directors Raul Gasteazoro and Giovanni Messner, plus trailers from this and other Indican releases.

It's admirable for indy filmmakers with meager funds to attempt something as ambitious as 10,000 A.D.: LEGEND OF THE BLACK PEARL, even when the final result falls short.  Maybe it could've used less speechifying and a few more of those exploitation elements that make post-apocalyptic Earth a little more fun to visit.

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