Coming at viewers like a freight train of visually stimulating surroundings and a story that doesn’t slow down for a single second, Oleg Stepchenko’s FORBIDDEN EMPIRE gives fans of fantasy adventure films one hefty dose of entertainment. A film filled to the absolutely brim with computer-generated effects, but not in a way that takes you from the story of X-MEN: FIRST CLASS star Jason Flemyng’s Dzhonatan Grin character, an English cartographer who unfortunately finds himself in the legendary Transylvania and in the middle of a dark and fantastical series of events.
What’s very apparent from the beginning of FORBIDDEN EMPIRE is how much of a fantasy and adventure film the audiences is in store for. Filled with everything from demons and monsters to Ukrainian vikings, it’s a film that hits the ground running, and while it might not reinvent the adventure film genre wheel, there’s something about this one that makes it incredibly fun to experience. The more Flemyng’s character discovers about the dark magic, spells and secrets of the area he’s surrounded himself in, the more dangerous it gets, and as a viewer, it’s enthralling as hell to go on the journey with the character and all of the dark and demonic entities and monsters surrounding him.
A lot of films that fall into the genre of fantasy/adventure films rely more on special effects than on story, and while FORBIDDEN EMPIRE is absolutely packed with visual effects, the central story of a man caught in the middle of dark forces and unleashing some pretty gnarly entities while being entangled in the situation, sets the film apart from a lot of recent fantasy fare. It’s a visually beautiful film, one that while getting pretty dark at times, never takes itself too seriously, instead giving its viewers one hell of a time.
Heads rolling, monsters flying at people, blood and chalf-lined protective circles, it’s a fantasy film that jumps from different types of fantastical films with ease, being an almost sword and sorcery film one moment, before heading into occult-based witchcraft and demonic evil-filled greatness, all of which play into each other quite effortlessly, making the film one wild ride. We’re in on the experience, and Flymyng gives an excellent performance that is easy to latch onto as a viewer, making you care about whether or not the poor guy is in over his head and if he’ll be able to stop the evil that looms over the entire Ukrainian setting. It’s a film that is at times both beautiful and dark, a film that never treats its audience like they’re mindless spectators, instead throwing them all into the film and its carnage, filled with blood and witchcraft and the types of elements that fans of the fantasy genre have come to love and appreciate.
It’s not huge in a scale similar to THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but what it might lack in a massive budget, it makes up for with an impressive amount of imagination and inventiveness. If spells, destruction and some plain ol’ adventure-filled genre films are your thing, do yourselves a favor and check this one out asap.