By: John M Jerva
It seems that I’ve been talking about the indie action film The Siege of Robin Hood for as long as I’ve been running my website. Now, of course, it hasn’t been that long, but actor, martial artist and filmmaker Paul Allica has literally bled, sweated and teared over the five plus years it took to make the film from start to finish. I remember interviewing Allica all the way back in 2018 as we chatted about his introduction to the martial arts as well as the film industry. A subsequent stunt performer and expert martial artist, Allica has worked with some of the best in the business including Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wu Jing so he certainly has some cred when it comes to action films.
Ironically, Allica wrote the script for Robin Hood while on set of The Iron Mask during a lengthy stall in production and for the next years to come, he delved headfirst into his first ambitious period actioner that would do something a little different with the legend of the famed outlaw we all know so well. This movie is a real passion project for Allica as he not only stars in the movie, but he produces, directs and co-wrote the script along with Don Macnab-Stark. The finished project is a fun and albeit cheesy, lower budgeted love letter to the types of swashbuckling films of old and this Robin in the Hood does take its liberties with the source material as beloved characters are omitted and newer ones are added. Let’s not forget that Allica merges legends as there is a King Arthur tinge to the proceedings as well.
The biggest draw for action fans is that Allica has infused Hong Kong style fight choreography for the film’s many battle sequences which injects new life into a story that’s been told countless times before and with much larger budgets. The hand-to-hand combat mixed with swordplay and bows, and arrows makes for an invigorating fresh take on the action and make no mistake, this one isn’t for the family as the violence is present throughout.
As the story goes, things are the same as we meet Robin, and his sister and things are per usual as Robin is a thorn in the backside to the regime that is ruthless to the people. At first, Robin doesn’t want anything to do with robbing from the rich to give to the poor, but he does begrudgingly for his sister. However, this paints a target on his back and unfortunately the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (David Macrae), who works for the evil Queen (Wallis Murphy-Munn) kills Robin’s sister as a result and for payback.
Now gone is the happy go lucky boy who likes to get into trouble and mischief and in his place is a vengeance seeking warrior who enlists the aid of a band of merry men (and woman) to take on The Queen, The Sheriff and also The Sergeant (played by John Fallon). Coming to Robin’s war cry are Tuck (Keanu Gonzalez), Little John (Peter Roordink) and the femme fatale Frieda (Kahli Williams). This band of fighters looks the same and different from other versions but it’s enough of what we are used too along with something different to make this version stand out above its honest budget. Like I said, Allica blends legends here and we get a little Arthurian help with the likes of Lancelot (Dave Beamish) and the sorcerer supreme Merlin (Tom McCathie). At first, I was hesitant with this switch and combo but as it played out, I was pretty much like why not.
Like I said earlier, this Robin Hood isn’t your parents’ version as it takes a more serious tone to the proceedings and forsakes whimsical and silly for a darker edged feel that plays on the strengths of its star and maker. Sure, Robin is silly and immature at first but once his sister is slain, he becomes something of a Dark Knight and Batman immediately came to my mind while watching it. Allica wants to make his version of Robin Hood stand out and I believe audiences will see that in the attempt.
The film does have a running time of around two hours, and I felt it could have benefited from a tighter paced running time as some scenes seemed to go on longer than they needed to be and when action does hit, some of it happens off screen and the story slows down again. This didn’t ruin anything for me though as I felt Allica was giving us some added time with his characters so we would become invested in them more. At the end of the day, I do feel that it could have been trimmed a little but that’s just nitpicking on my part.
The cast is all game and especially Allica and his band of heroes as they all serve a purpose and get their chance to shine when the action hits. I did enjoy how there was there was an evil queen this time around and Macrae as The Sheriff reminded me of an evil grandfather. Gone is Maid Marion and in her place, we have the strong-willed Frieda played by Williams. She is no damsel at all and plays rough with the boys while on her way to falling in love with Robin. Gonzalez is a standout as Tuck and probably gets the best fight sequences of the movie while Roordink’s Little John is probably the closest resemblance to the iconic character we all know and love.
The cinematography is stellar too and in the place of England, we get the landscapes of Australia instead which enhances the visuals. This is a lower budgeted affair, so you’ll have to make peace with some of the look of the film like some of the questionable costume choices worn by many of the extras.
The action is the real standout and will be what most will take away from the project. Allica does his best to incorporate as much mayhem as possible and even though a lot of action is left to the imagination of the viewer, we are still treated to some breathtaking and bloody set pieces. Keanu Gonzalez as Tuck is the real star in the action as his martial arts prowess is truly breathtaking and he gets the best choreography. Allica does his thing as well and he does most of his damage with his famed bow and arrows and even employs a kick ass battle mask that will remind you of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat.
The finale is the real deal as Robin and his gang make one final stand against The Sheriff and his army and the action switches back and forth between each character. From Little John’s brute force to Tuck’s lightning paced moves to Robin’s inevitable confrontation, the Hong Kong flair is indeed a nice touch to the proceedings and gives fans a little more meat on the stick when it comes to the high-octane moments. Once again, I enjoyed the fact that Allica made this Robin more adult oriented, and we do get many spot-on kills throughout the film’s length.
Overall, The Siege of Robin Hood does have its flaws but Allica’s excitement and fresh take on an old legend makes this one a suitable time waster. Some of the dialogue and acting come off as cheesy but it also adds some charm to the foundation. If viewers go in knowing that this is a labor of love done on a shoe-string budget, then I feel they will have more fun with it. The Hong Kong stylized action is worth the price of admission alone with some truly jaw dropping moments and I wouldn’t mind seeing this group turn up again in future adventures with a bigger budget. This is a classic case of bleeding, sweating and crying for your art and Allica has managed to do something incredible here with limited resources. Don’t listen to the naysayers as there are always those who dump on indie film without even seeing them. Give this one a shot and I think you’ll come away with a newfound interest on an old legend that has been seen many times in the past.