By Justin Hamelin
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
1000 AD, Mads Mikkelsen plays a one-eyed man who simply goes by the name One-Eye. A slave all his life, One-Eye is pitted against other slaves to fight until the death for the simple pleasure of their owners. A mute warrior of freakish (arguably supernatural) strength, One-Eye embarks on a mind bending journey after finally escaping his owner in fantastic fashion.
Are (Maarten Stevenson) is a young boy slave who follows One-Eye after they are freed. It is a nice change of pace from the omniscient brutality of this film to see a silent but very strong bond between Are and One-Eye form.
From aboard a Viking vessel with a group of Christian warriors on their way to the Crusades to finally reaching the New World which they believe to be the Holy Land, ominous events lead the group to believe that not only is One-Eye pure evil, but he has brought them to Hell itself.
Upon touching land in the unknown regions of “Hell”, the group meet grisly fates, one by one, while One-Eye is forced to discover his true self in order to save the young boy.
A truly dark yet touching film, Valhalla Rising has been pushed aside by mainstream Hollywood since it’s release in 2009. An utter travesty, considering the film’s incredible choreography, intense fight sequences and creepy superstitious undertones that propel the second half of the film. Not to mention one hell of a third act.
Watch this film, emphasis on watch. If you are amongst a group of chatty friends or plan on just popping it in as background noise while you are preoccupied elsewhere, you are doing yourself and the film a great disservice.
My Grade: 9/10