Okay, confession time. I have a bit of a weakness for Bai Ling. I know she's not the world's greatest actress, but I find her alluringly watchable in whatever awful B-movie she turns up in.
And Lord of The Elves is a classic of that genre. Crafted by the masterminds at The Asylum as a mockbuster of Peter Jackon's first Hobbit movie, this was originally called Age of The Hobbits until the lawyers stepped in and its name changed to Lord of The Elves.
Then, without any warning or explanation, it suddenly underwent a bland renaming to Clash of Empires.
The Blu-Ray I have of this is entitled Lord Of The Elves, but for the sake of clarity I should point out at this stage that not only is the word "lord" never used in this 82-minute flick, but there are also no "elves" in it, nor is that word mentioned either.
Of course, both of these words do have connections with the rather popular Lord of The Rings movies, but that's surely a coincidence, right?
Inspired by real-world archaeology, the action of Lord of The Elves takes place 12,000 years ago on Flores Island, Indonesia (where examples of an early hominid, Homo floresiensis, were found in 2003).
But this is an Asylum movie, not a National Geographic documentary. As well as being populated with giant lizards, some of which can fly (like dragons), and giant spiders, the island is home to three types of human: the diminutive vegetarian Tree People, cannibalistic cavemen called the Rock Men (who ride the flying lizards on occasion), and a tribe of hunters that the Tree People refer to as "giants" but are simply humans.
When the Rock Men raid the Tree People village - to stock up on snacks for their cooking pot - one family escapes, fleeing to the land of the "giants", where they gain assistance from Amthar (Stargate SG-1's Christopher Judge), Laylan (Bai Ling), and a couple of disposable prehistoric red shirts.
Together, despite being severely outnumbered, they stage a rescue mission on the Rock Men's encampment in the hope of saving the captive Tree People.
Shot on location in the jungles and mountains of Cambodia, Lord of The Elves certainly looks mythic.
It just kind of falls apart when people get involved.
Eric Forsberg's script is simplistic, to say the least, and much of the acting is am dram level. While some bad dubbing contributes to this, I have a suspicion that Christopher Judge was the only true actor on set, and most of the rest were Cambodian locals randomly roped in because they 'looked the part'.
|I'm sorry, I can't help myself...|
Except for eye candy, I'm not exactly sure what Bai Ling or her character really contributed to the movie. Being generous, you could say that Laylan has a basic revenge arc, but she could easily have been excised from the movie and nothing would have changed.
Of course, I might not have been so keen to watch it. But that's a different story entirely.
The giant creatures, and the faux-dragons, are delivered as mediocre CG monsters, but actually they're not so poor that they take the audience out of the moment (come on, you're watching an Asylum joint, what were you expecting? Marvel Studios level CGI?).
The monsters help add some colour to the otherwise human-centric "fantasy" tale , which, barring its prehistoric setting, has an element of Willow about it as well.
Let's be honest, Lord of The Elves (or whatever you want to call it) is not a great movie, and bears absolutely no resemblance to any of the big budget Hobbit movies.
However, if you're a fan of classic cavemen movies, such as One Million Years B.C., Clan of The Cave Bear, Quest for Fire, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth etc then you might be able to eke out some silly fun from this nonsense.
The most common have a pair of enormous leathery wings set just behind their front legs and are capable of flight. Primitive tribes people have found ways to tame these and ride them into battle.
Then there are two flightless versions, one - green-skinned - resembles the flying lizard, but without its wings. There is some speculation that these are simply flying lizards cursed with a birth defect that has prevented their wings from sprouting.
The final distinctive lizard has yellow scales with bright red, jagged, stripes down its side. These are renowned for their particularly poisonous bite.
AC: 13 (17 if in flight)
Atk: 1, either claw (1-2) or bite (3-6)
- GRAB: If a bite attack scores five or higher than it requires to hit with its attack roll, the lizard has grabbed its target in its powerful jaws for an additional 2d6 damage. It also now has its prey locked in its jaws and will do a further 2d6 chewing damage per round unless its captive can make a STR save at Disadvantage (checking every round on the character's initiative, then breaking free will be their only action). Flying lizards have been known to drop victims from a great height, so they can dine on their smashed carcass later.
- EVASION: The flying lizards are not exactly graceful in the air, but may, have taking their movement action and in lieu of an attack, opt to 'evade', forcing attacks against them from the ground to be made at Disadvantage.
- POISON: The poisonous variety of lizard doesn't use a grab attack, instead anyone it bites will need to save versus poison or suffer 6d6 poison damage the following round. Three consecutive, successful, checks will mean they have escaped the effects of the deadly toxin.