Dost thou have the insatiable appetite for LARPing role-players, mystical creatures, and foul spells of horror that would make even the bravest of knights rust their armor? Ah, yes, it’s with great sorrow that Joe Lynch’s Knights of Badassdom Director’s Cut was snatched from our possession by feudal kings drunk on power, but the cut we’re left with still sweetly smells of Lynch’s love for invigorated genre work. Whist commoners pretend to know the valor and bravery of knighthood, Lynch gives untested souls the chance to fight real monsters and cast true spells of wizardry – what one can only presume is a LARPer’s dream. Brandish some cold hard steel and vanquish your enemy for good, what sounds better than such a quest?! Oh, right, not having your face torn off by a succubus – but that’s what makes this geeky horror comedy so damn endearing.
Don’t get me wrong, Knights Of Badassdom is far from a perfect watch, and I’m truly interested to see how Lynch’s cut differs from that which I indulged in. The beginning of our fantastical adventure struggles to find proper footing, teetering somewhere between stoner comedy chuckles and a nerdtastic bromance, but the jokes initially land soft LARP-y blows as the script tests audience’s patience of true fandom. I give Lynch kudos for choosing such a niche subgenre of geekiness to exploit for horror’s sake, but I feel as if even “he’s” leery of such a choice early on. It’s as if “Lynch” is dipping his toe in a chilly pool over and over again, trying to acclimate “himself” with the idea, but then once he realized there’s no turning back, “Lynch” dives directly into the “badassdom” and turns our weekend warriors into true heroes.
If you aren’t sold yet, do I need to say anything more than “Peter Dinklage plays a shroom-eating berzerker who dual wields swords” – no? Didn’t think so. Yes, Lynch assembles a true team of glory for Knights Of Badassdom, honoring cultish pop culture while choosing the best possible performers. Dinklage is only one man on a team of many, as Steve Zahn plays a level 26 sorcerer and Ryan Kwanten gets forced into LARPing by both Dinklage and Zahn. Most viewers will want nothing more than to catch Tyrion Lannister in battle with a demon summoned from Hell, but Kwanten sports some memorable moments as a doom metal songster living in his buddy’s castle – yes, castle. These three joke about, teaching Kwanten the ropes, but then our supporting cast starts to fall directly into place.
Danny Pudi is a bit underutilized here, as Zahn makes a note to watch out for Pudi’s “entertaining” battle tactics, yet his arc “ends” before any such zaniness can be shown. On the other hand, our game master Jimmi Simpson perfectly embodies the Dungeons & Dragons playing lunatic who goes power hungry over setting up quests and introducing new obstacles for our warriors. Most people probably know him as a McPoyle brother from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but Knights Of Badassdom truly shows what a funny, scene stealing kind of personality he carries, commanding a range of emotions while executing solid comedic timing – a worthy addition to any traveling pack of nomad soldiers.
Here’s where fanboys are going to go nuts – Summer Glau plays a seductive warrior with much more than a +3 badonkadonk. Yes, that crazy girl from Firefly has grown into one hell of a Xena-channelling woman, as she runs about the battlefield vanquishing foes with her superior skills. She’s not just eye candy, though – Summer has fun playing the damsel not-so-in-distress (which she’s done numerous times). Her turn as Gwen begs a simple question – why has Summer been so invested in the silver screen? My big-screen watches need more Summer Glau!
But, alas, Knights Of Badassdom is only a barely recommendable movie because it feels lobotomized. Yes, metal music shreds loudly while medieval themes push forward bouts of action, but there’s a watered-down feeling every step of the way. So much more carnage could have been shown and typical storybook endings could have been avoided, as a generic feel slowly overwhelms – something I KNOW Lynch isn’t responsible for. Our financier’s cut barely even explains why one character became a millionaire and owns a castle, we’re just forced to accept it – wait, did they explain that little tidbit at all? There HAS to be a great story behind a group of LARPers owning a castle – but instead the castle becomes a failed joke at the expense of obsessive LARPers.
Dear Joe Lynch, please let me see your Director’s Cut ASAP? Knights Of Badassdom is an unfinished product, but it passes based on the content our director was able to salvage. There’s a fun watch here for LARP loving horror fans, especially those who love a good throwback 80s creature feature, but glaring moments of awkward cuts, ignorant storytelling, and mainstream modifying prevent the imaginative watch that could have been.
This is Wrong Turn 2: Dead End Joe Lynch. This is Chillerama Joe Lynch. I know there’s some magnificent cut full of decapitations, more horrific elements, and hopefully even more Peter Dinklage, and that’s the cut I’m still dying to see. My hunger has been satiated by an outlandish ending featuring a deafening metal ballad by Ryan Kwanten, rubber monster suits and Summer freakin’ Glau – but that was a mere appetizer. Please, don’t confuse my support of the current version with pure bliss – we NEED to see Joe Lynch’s Knights Of Badassdom.
I've been given a palatable taste of Joe Lynch's Knights Of Badassdom, but I'm now ready for the main course - Lynch's fabled Director's Cut.