Knights of the Zodiac (2023)

Posted in Reviews by - September 30, 2023
Knights of the Zodiac (2023)

If this is Sony’s attempt at finding a new young adult franchise full of spectacle, spandex and superheroes to rival that of Disney’s Marvel films, then we’ve got off to a damp start. This adventure, based on the popular 1980s Japanese manga Saint Seiya, completely neglects the first rule of superhero school – to have fun – and is instead lumbered by a clunky script completely lacking in humour. Instead of leaning into full-blown fan service (it waits until the very end to really cut loose with gnarly costumes, buildings blowing up, lightening storms and so on), this long-awaited live-action adaptation instead lands somewhere between an American coming-of-age drama and a pious fantasy action film – and not too stylistically distant from a Power Rangers movie. Seiya (Mackenyu, son of Sonny Chiba) is your archetypal ‘lost boy’ harbouring a superhuman energy who enjoys a bit of good old fashioned nihilism as a cagefighter. He’s spotted by Sean Bean and his valet Mark Dacascos – an incongruous double-act – who take Seiya back to Bean’s mansion to inform him that he might, in fact, be the ‘Pegasus Knight’, destined to protect the Ancient Greek god Athena who has returned in human form looking very much like the young actor Madison Iseman. Bean is an expert at adding heft to complete nonsense, and he can actually get away with saying a line like, “they’re after warriors for their strong cosmos”, without breaking into a smirk. In order for Seiya to fulfil his destiny, he must develop his martial arts skills by crushing rocks in an abstract CGI desert; while Athena’s mother (Famke Janssen) has enlisted a cyberpunk gang of ninja bodyguards to kill her own daughter, believing her to be a harbinger of destruction. The film deserves props for providing Dacascos with another big-budget outing in which to strut his kick-ass credentials – his most prominent role since John Wick 3 – and for giving Jackie Chan Stunt Team alumni Andy Cheng a decent showcase for his fight choreography, filmed in a hyper-realized, slightly demented style which suits the tone. If only the same wackiness could have been deployed across the entire movie.

Knights of the Zodiac is out now on digital in the UK courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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