Film review: Emperor
This pre-American Civil War epic is based on the legend of Shields ‘Emperor’ Green, a slave who cast off his shackles to become a freedom fighter.
It tells the gripping story of Green’s desperate bid to escape the brutality and deprivations of life in South Carolina, where sadistic plantation owner, Randolph Stevens (played by MC Gainey), is more than happy to dispense punishments on the slaves who are his ‘property’.
It isn’t long before Green has a violent falling out with Stevens and subsequently finds himself on the run, pursued by an experienced bounty hunter.
And so follows a battle of wits, guts and gun battles.
Dayo Okeniyi is relentlessly impressive as the wronged slave intent on finding freedom, while Bruce Dern, Harry Lennix, James Cromwell and Gainey are suitably grim and gritty in their supporting roles.
This is both an action adventure and a drama highlighting the appalling treatment of the slaves working on the plantations. It’s in the same ballpark as Twelve Years a Slave, though less brutal, and includes a fistful of action sequences.
Out now on digital and DVD
By Dave Hopwood, Sorted Film Critic