Paramount // 2009 // 387 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // May 24th, 2010
Who is the deadliest warrior!
Spike's crazy popular historical celebrity deathmatch has hit DVD. Who will come out on top in the winner-take-all battle royal between your wallet and Deadliest Warrior: Season One?
The setup is simple. Take a random selection of the fiercest warriors in human history and match them up against one another in implausible fights to the death. As time travel is much to cost prohibitive, producers could not fly between times, gathering warriors and taking them to some secret off-world coliseum to battle to the death. Instead, they have to rely on expert testimony and sophisticated computer programs that factor in all of the variables and tell us who really is the Deadliest Warrior.
Season One contains nine epic match-ups:
* Apache vs. Gladiator
* Viking vs. Samurai
* Spartan vs. Ninja
* Pirate vs. Knight
* Yakuza vs. Mafia
* Green Beret vs. Spetsnaz
* Shaolin Monk vs. Maori Warrior
* William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu
* I.R.A vs. Taliban
Your average episode takes us into the top secret warehouse of history's fight club, where Deadliest Warrior's experts take a sampling of weaponry and skills and test them on fun things like wooden targets, dead animals, and ballistics dummies full of red ooze and accurate recreations of human insides. Your average episode consists of colourful 'real life experts' testing nasty looking blades, bows, guns and explosives while the show's crew looks on in awe. All of the numbers are crunched and boiled into a computer program which then decides who of our historical pugilists is the champ. Blood soaked re-enactments fill the time between talking heads. These affairs are typically cheesy and heavy handed, with tons of CG blood and stage-play level costuming. Each episode ends with a knock-down, drag-out battle between the subjects, where each shows off the respective tools and talents demoed to the bloodthirsty audience at home for the previous 40 minutes. There's definitely some crazy stuff on display, and for the most part, the show really goes a long way towards showing just HOW capable of making human soup some of these nasty implements of war really were.
The biggest strength is undoubtedly the cheesy, melodramatic narration of Drew Skye, channelling David Wenham's one-eyed Spartan storyteller from 300. It is uncanny, and sets the ridiculous tone of the show itself. I'd swear it IS Wenham, acting under a pseudonym. It's that close.
The package put together by Paramount isn't half bad either. The image quality is good, and the stereo sound is sharp and clear There's a solid smattering of extra stuff with the inclusion of the Deadliest Warrior: The Aftermath webisodes taken from Spike's official website. There's one of these for each episode, a sort of roundtable where the crew and experts of the show address concerns and comments posted on the official webpage. Many of them are pretty interesting, and it's nice to see some thoughts that aren't accompanied by the over the top insanity of the show itself. You also get a Season One recap where everyone talks about the going's on of the season as a whole, and their favourite deathmatch.
No matter how scientific the basis, no matter how seasoned the experts, no matter how awesome David Wenham's -- sorry, Drew Skye's -- narration is, there's no escaping just how ungodly stupid this show is. It really ought to be the butt of one of Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck if..." jokes. Watching the so called experts jeer back and forth at one another like we're ten minutes from the start of Summer Slam is hilarious and surreal. The inner ten year old in me screams in joy at the thought of a winner-take-all deathmatch between a Knight and a Pirate, while the adult mind in me screams in horror, as though someone just gave me an appendectomy without drugs. Sure, I grinned like a monkey with a handful of poop who just sighted a lady in a white dress whenever Wenham (Skye, whatever) uttered the word, "Spartans!" but that didn't stop me from feeling any less insane for watching. The mind numbing brutality, the heavy-handed stupidity, the mannequins filled with blood? Why?
Because it goes GREAT with some friends and a pint or two of Guinness, that's why.
Deadliest Warrior might be one of the most boneheaded ideas to ever hit the small screen, but it's more entertaining than your average wresting match, and you just might learn something about how people who lived long ago killed other people in really cool style. Or something. If nothing else, the next time some 10 year-old gets in your face about who would win in a fight between Spartans and Ninjas, you can dazzle him with the facts.
Why? Why does this show even exist? Who cares! Not guilty!
Review content copyright © 2010 Steve Power; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 387 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site