Directed by: Petr Jákl
Distributed by: The Avenue
Written by Taylor Baker
Petr Jákl, a name that even the most prodigious of cinephiles likely won’t recognize presides as the director of “Medieval,” the Czech Republic’s biggest budget film ever made. For 20.3 million USD (500 million Czech koruna) it was shot in the Fall of 2018 on location in the Czech Republic and has seemingly been awaiting distribution since then. Which in some ways makes its foibles all the more painful. For nearly the entire first third of the film, the ADR sync is off when it’s not just downright incorrect. They’ve even motion blurred lips that are moving when nothing is audible to try and masque it but only brought further attention and accentuated the issue, much like Cavill’s mustache in “Justice League.”
“Medieval’s” strength is its physicality. With face smashing, bone-crunching, and skin-ripping fight sequences. These fights map the journey of Jan Žižka a Czech national hero played by a war mace-toting Ben Foster. Surrounding Foster’s Žižka is a handful of historically accurate and fictional characters with some notable performers like Matthew Goode, Til Schweiger, and Sir Michael Caine rounding out otherwise unrecognizable faces. While not all battle scenes are given time and space to showcase their choreography and the men’s technique they are edited in a raucous way to saturate the viewer in the continuous impacts and pain of the sort that happened in these military engagements.
The political intrigue that leads to Jan’s involvement, a kidnapping, and multiple betrayals is poorly delivered. Muted sentiments of greed and power are muttered in-between expository lines trying to delineate the differences between the two popes and which character has all the money to wage the war. While these details are historically significant their shoehorned delivery detracts from the film’s forward momentum. But when men are being drowned, eviscerated, hung, impaled, burnt and smashed “Medieval” is blunt force fun.