Swords of Insurgency is a post-apocalyptic action/drama web series by filmmaker Michael Neal. It’s an action-packed show with plenty of martial arts, but it also has an artistic side that makes it more than just a hack-and-slash flick. The pilot episode of Swords of Insurgency is now complete, and Neal hopes to impress fans and backers with his work.
Swords of Insurgency takes place somewhere in the not-so-distant future following apocalyptic events that have shattered society as we know it. Governments have collapsed and have been replaced with warlords and tyrants. The cataclysmic events that destroyed civilization seem to have also destroyed most of the firearms as well. Now, in a world where the strong rule, swords and fists are the weapons of choice.
In the pilot episode, “Escape from Ferulvad,” the audience is introduced to Emperor Taneg and his son Droll, tyrants who control a significant swathe of territory in the former United States capital region. They operate a hellish prison, Ferulvad, where political prisoners and dissenters are held, tortured, and executed. One such prisoner is Abigail, a traitor to Taneg and the daughter of Talos, the leader of the insurgency against Taneg. Droll has taken a particular interest in Abigail, and while she is able to escape from the prison during the episode, more dangers wait for her on the outside.
While a post-apocalyptic future with swords instead of guns isn’t exactly new, Swords of Insurgency is still an interesting addition to the genre. The show is a bit darker and heavier than many others with its violence, displaying scenes that depict or suggest executions, torture, rape, and death. There is plenty of action in the pilot, and the DC Stunt Coalition has done a commendable job putting together the choreographed fights, chase scenes, and stunts for this series.
While there is plenty of fighting to enjoy in Swords of Insurgency, the pilot episode is more than just a simple action short. There are several scenes where the pace is slowed down considerably, providing a nice balance to the faster-paced chase and fight scenes. As the action slows and the beautiful background music plays, one realizes that Swords of Insurgency is not just a hack-and-slash film; it’s a work of art. Even the special effects for blood have an artistic feel to them as the blood splatters, lingers just briefly in the air, and then fades away. Neal’s artistic vision for the show is apparent, and audiences should appreciate that Swords of Insurgency is much more than just a bunch of stunt men sword-fighting in the woods.
Unfortunately, the pilot does have some weak points, particularly the character Drool, played by Jarod Kearney. I can’t figure out yet if the character is written as too over-the-top, or if Kearney is overacting the part, but I found every scene with this character present to be slightly cringe-worthy. The character is clearly a psychopath, but he’s either beyond Kearney’s ability to pull off convincingly or just written to be too much in terms of a character and needs to be toned down some.
While Drool may have been my least favorite part of the pilot, not all the villains in Swords of Insurgency fell short of expectations. Erik Bernard Johnsen played Emperor Taneg quite convincingly, and I hope we see more of him in future episodes. Unfortunately, the end of the pilot suggests we might not see as much of Johnsen as I hope for.
The main character and hero of the show is Abigail, played by Rebecca Hausman. Hausman is intense and fierce throughout the pilot as she makes her escape, fights off bad guys nearly twice her size, and even eats a rodent. Abigail is a demanding role both in her physical and emotional requirements, but Hausman seems more than up to the task.
Many filmmakers these days come up with a concept, put together a trailer, and then seek crowd sourcing, all before a pilot is made. Backers don’t always know exactly what they’re going to get, and there is a delay until that first episode is complete. Michael Neal, however, has taken a different approach, as he has already completed the full pilot for Swords of Insurgency. He now seeks funding to create more episodes. Once his Kickstarter campaign is launched, Neal intends for backers to be able to view the pilot right away, and then they can decide if they want to increase their pledge to ensure future episodes can be made. With the concept in place, equipment already purchased, and production already in progress, I feel like backers are getting more for their money with Swords of Insurgency and can feel more confident in their investment.
I hope the public does decide this is a project worth backing, as I’d like to see where these series continues to go. Overall, Swords of Insurgency is an exciting adventure with a combination of impressive martial arts and artistic vision that makes this show worth watching and supporting.