Main cast: Scott Adkins (Guillam), Michael Jay White (Teague), Matt Mullins (Julian), and Darren Shahlavi (Adam)
Director: Guillaume Lubrano
Since this is the first episode of the anthology sci-fi series Métal Hurlant Chronicles, I may as well first explain the basic premise of the series that loosely ties all the episodes together. A long, long time ago, a “living planet” was destroyed by “the madness of its own inhabitants”, and the resulting blast sent its head flying across the space as an asteroid called the Métal Hurlant (that’s French for “heavy metal”, if I am not mistaken). Each episode will see the asteroid showing up in some way, but take my word for this: this premise is so loosely incorporated into each episode, often in an inconsistent manner at that, that it’s best to just treat this premise as an excuse to play spot the asteroid in each episode. It doesn’t really play a significant part in the plot. Certainly not in King’s Crown, at least.
And how interesting that the opening episode is basically a fighting showcase, featuring some of the more notable names in the B-grade often straight-to-video action movie circuit and generally have these good-looking men fight with lots of hot biceps and even shirtlessness on display.
In a kingdom in a distant planet, the tyrant is dying. The way succession works here is that, as the king is dying, tournaments will be held, in which people who want to take over will fight until the last man standing will become the heir. Guillam, our protagonist, wants to win, because he wants to end the tyrant’s cruel laws and bring forth a new era of peace in the land. To achieve his goal, however, he will have to fight. Things get complicated when he begins to respect his biggest rival, Teague, who also shares the same noble goal. Who will win in the end? It’s not as simple as just shaking hands and letting the best man go on while the other one walks away, though – each fight is to the death.
The costumes and the set are all generally easy on the eyes, but the acting… well, it’s passable, although Michael Jai White (credited as Michael Jay White here) doesn’t even bother to mask his accent so he stands out like a sore thumb as the American is a sea of people doing their best to approximate some kind of vaguely European-ish accent. Still, this is one episode that relies very considerably on the physicality of its cast. The men fight, swinging swords and axes, and their scenes are well-choreographed enough to keep things interesting. This is a good thing, as the characters are all stock archetypes, and Guillam is actually quite a bore of a good guy. Scott Adkins, fortunately, shows off his hot body often enough to make sure that my attention remains… er, unwavering. And what remains covered is encased in tight pants so really, I’m certainly paying attention.
One thing, though – these guys are all too well-groomed, complete with nicely done hair and shaved armpits and what not, to be sweaty fighter types.
Oh, and the twist at the end is one I can see coming from a while away. But the last five minutes is basically Scott Adkins walking around without a shirt and the camera zooming in close enough to give me a nice look at the hard work that has gone into making those muscles work, so really, I can’t say that I am bored.
King’s Crown is, therefore, an average episode that is made pretty watchable by letting the cast do what they do best – fight. The, ahem, visual effects are quite nice, however, and I’m afraid I’m an easy enough pushover to find this one far more enjoyable than it probably is. Oh. don’t judge, we all have our weaknesses.