El Capitán Trueno y el Santo Grial (2011)

a.k.a. - Order of the Grail (UK), Prince Killian and the Holy Grail (USA)

A highly enjoyable and well directed Spanish comic-book sword and scorcery adventure. Kaleidoscope UK R0 DVD.

The Film

The Middle East during the Crusades, Capitán Trueno breaks into a castle to free his friends Crispín and Goliath. They fight their way through the castle to free other prisoners where Trueno finds an old man who begs him to take an important chalice back to Spain for safe keeping. King Richard dispatches Trueno to Spain after hearing tales of black clad evil warriors taking over the country in the absence of its best warriors. Accompanied by his friends and a Viking Princess Sigrid who was also freed from captivity, Trueno embarks for Iberia, but on arrival they find themselves facing an ancient evil...

Based on the popular series of Capitán Trueno (Captain Thunder) comic books published in Spain in the 1950s, which took their inspriation from Hal Foster's Prince Valiant, this is a highly enjoyable adventure yarn that although having a real world setting, does include enough magical and fantasy elements that place it firmly into the sword and scorcery genre. To avoid copyright issues with the DC Comics character, the lead was renamed Prince Killian for the US release.

There is nothing particularly original in the set-up; the heroic lead, the extra-large comedy sidekick, the disguised person who saves the hero then turns out to be a woman, the romance with said woman, the capturing of said woman to make the hero relent, the evil witch working for the bad guys, the subplot romance for the shy support character - the clichés certainly come thick and fast here, yet they all just seem to be part of the familiar fun that the film is espousing. Briskly paced throughout, the plot is far more detailed than a lot of other genre entries and there is a good mix of characters to keep things interesting. It builds to a tense and dramatic climax, although it all ends a little suddenly, while the post-action conclusion does drag on a little to set up for a sequel in the only real mis-fire of the entire storyline.

Director Antonio Hernández does some tremendous work with the film, giving it a Hollywood-slick feel while retaining some European art-house touches in the camerawork. A lot of effort has gone into the production, with fantastic looking sets and costumes along with a beautiful castle for the exteriors that sets this film far above the myriad of low budget genre titles which are all too often set entirely in foggy forests or matte-painted castles. CGI use is limited but even this looks good. A perfectly fitting soundtrack rounds the film off very neatly.

There is generally solid acting from the largely Spanish cast; Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)) takes on the lead role and certainly looks the part, although Asier Etxeandia steals the show as a mysterious Muslim warrior and might have made for even better casting in the lead role. The stunningly beautiful Natasha Yarovenko (Habitación en Roma (2010)) is perfectly cast as Sigrid and is convincing both as the romantic interest and in her fight scenes. Gary Piquer (Romasanta (2004)) is memorable as the evil Lord Black (in a part that would certainly be played by Christoph Waltz in a remake).

There is nothing particularly original in El Capitán Trueno y el Santo Grial but it sets out to be a light hearted, briskly paced, gripping adventure yarn in the spirit of the 1950s and it succeeds perfectly. Aided by a strong cast and making the absolute most of the available budget, director Antonio Hernández imbues the film with beautiful direction but with a Hollywood sheen that makes it highly accessible and a perfect family film. Fans of classic sword and scorcery productions will also enjoy this. Highly recommended.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? No-one well known.
Directed by anyone interesting? Antonio Hernández - a Spanish director who mostly works on television projects, he did helm En la ciudad sin límites (2002) and the historical drama Los Borgia (2006)
Any gore or violence ? Some blood but nothing gory.
Any sex or nudity? None.
Who is it for? Fans of sword and scorcery will enjoy this and it is family friendly (the UK 12 rating seems fair).

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The clean digital print, strong colours and detail, no transfer issues.
Audio Spanish stereo - sounds fine.
Subtitles English - no problems. (Subtitles are burnt into the print)
Extras None.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Released by Shout Factory in the US as 'Prince Killian and the Holy Grail', includes the subtitled Spanish or dubbed English track (the lip-sync is rather poor here as the film was entirely shot in Spanish).
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is Spanish, although with a substitute English title card appearing at the end of the film, there are no opening credits.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 11th January 2015.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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