Blu-ray Review: Knights of Badassdom

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Knights of Badassdom is a genre-bender boasting a cast of highly recognizable television stars that all but guarantees a ready-made audience. A group of friend and dedicated LARPers (Live Action Role-Players) convene somewhere in Eastern Washington (the film was shot in and around Spokane) to enact a medieval fantasy. They wind up with far more than they bargained for when their lark conjures up a human-devouring succubus. Poking fun at live action role-playing gamers is probably too obvious a target in the first place, but there’s no excuse for Badassdom not being livelier and funnier. Director Joe Lynch assembled an impressive cast and then committed the unforgivable sin of giving them nothing to do.

So who makes up this dream cast? For starters there’s Game of Thrones’ Tyrion Lannister himself, Peter Dinklage, portraying a LARPer amusingly named Hung. True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten is the central character, less amusingly named Joe. Joe is a wannabe rock star whose girlfriend recently broke up with him. His LARPing buddies attempt to pull him out of his funk by dragging him against his will to the outdoor festivities. In addition to Hung, Joe is joined by Eric (Steve Zahn).

Knights 2 (380x214).jpgEver-popular Firefly, Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Arrow regular Summer Glau is on-hand as well. Jimmi Simpson (TV’s House of Cards, Breakout Kings, and last summer’s painfully underrated big screen actioner White House Down) leads a rival LARP team. The demonic succubus is portrayed by the gorgeous Margarita Levieva (TV’s Revenge). Even Community’s Danny Pudi is on hand, pitching in some Abed-style shenanigans as a LARPer named Lando.

Entertainment One’s Blu-ray offers a decent 1080p presentation. Badassdom was obviously quite a low-budget feature. The image is consistently a bit too high contrast, leaving detail often crushed out of the darker scenes. It looks fine overall though, which also sums up the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. LFE activity is a bit weak, keeping in line with a somewhat thin sound all around. The no-frills approach works though, with a mix that isn’t especially immersive but is clean and well-balanced.

Special features include short interviews with several cast members and a longer one with the director. The real gem of the supplements, however, is the 48-minute San Diego Comic-Con panel from 2013. Lynch is joined by most of the primary cast (no Zahn, but Kwanten, Simpson, Pudi, Glau, Dinklage, and Levieva are all present). It’s a fun panel (more fun than the movie itself) and everyone involved pitches in some funny comments.

Director Joe Lynch (who previously helmed 2007’s Wrong Turn 2: Dead End) exhibits boundless enthusiasm for his gory, comic creation in the disc’s supplemental materials. But honestly it seems like once the actors were secured, he simply let the film coast along on their collective presence alone. The laughs in Knights of Badassdom are, sadly, quite rare.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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