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USA Home Video presents
Xena, Warrior Princess: Series Finale (2001)

"If this is true, then I am guilty of a greater evil than I ever thought possible."
- Xena (Lucy Lawless)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: April 18, 2002

Stars: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Conner
Other Stars: Michelle Ang, Mac Jeffrey Ong, Marton Csokas, Adrian Brown, Kazuhiro Muroyama, Venant Wong, Trevor Sai-Louie, Ric Chan, Gary Young, Yvonne Tan, Shiori Terada, Gregor McLennan
Director: Rob Tapert

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:39m:51s
Release Date: March 26, 2002
UPC: 696306035220
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B+A- C+

DVD Review

"I know what I must do, but I'm afraid that this day, what's done may not be undone." - Xena

After six seasons Xena, Warrior Princess comes to an end, and the final two-part episode, A Friend in Need, has been recut for this movie presentation. The series premiered the week of September 4, 1995 as a spinoff of Kevin Sorbo's Hercules: the Legendary Journeys, quickly gaining a loyal and dedicated fanbase. The combination of action, adventure, drama and comedy made for exciting television viewing, with its formidable star, Lucy Lawless, as Xena and her faithful companion and protégé, Gabrielle (Renee O'Conner) at her side. They have been through every imaginable—and unimaginable—peril together, braving evil and even conquering death. In their final adventure, the bond between the pair grows even stronger, as the price for success may be the ultimate one. The series comes full circle.

"This is not going to be the trip I promised you, but if Akemi calls, I must go." - Xena

The story begins at camp, with Gabrielle staring pensively at the Aurora Borealis in the night sky, but unlike times before, Xena is attentive to her. They discuss their next course of action, which will see them leaving Greece, perhaps the land of the Pharaohs. Noting that someone has been following them, Xena whistles to indicate their location, and a young monk stumbles into the clearing, and bearing a message from Akemi. Xena's face goes blank as he relays a tale in which he and a fellow monk came upon a bathhouse, where three young women attended to their desires. While his companion bathed with two of the girls, the third, Akemi, played the koto, seductively enticing him, but staying true to his vows, he declined. Suddenly a rush of wind, and a horrendous spirit smashed through the doorway, devouring his friend as he escaped into the night air. Akemi gives him a katana, asking him to bring it to Xena, as she needs her help. The request is one Xena can't refuse, and with her friend at her side, the two set off on the long voyage for Jappa. En route, Xena unfolds the story of Akemi to Gabrielle, one that will give her companion new insight into her teacher, but not without its own emotional consequences.

"She was forced by Yudoshi, the Lord of the Darkland, to seduce souls into his grasp. She's very beautiful... and she's a ghost." - Kenji

As expected, the action is excellent, with some spectacular battle sequences. This director's version adds additional footage not seen in the television airings, which was cut for time limitations. Much of the finale is told in flashback, allowing the character of the old "mean" Xena to come forward, and provides a number of explanations.

The story draws on many series elements and brings closure effectively. The relationship between Xena an Gabrielle gets added depth, as the reasons behind Xena's reluctance to fully divulge all of her secrets becomes evident. During the course of the series there was a lot of fan speculation about Xena's sexuality, which was alluded to, but never confirmed one way or the other; this final episode clears this up, as well as many other details that have arisen over the years. Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Conner both portray their characters in a typically solid, larger-than-life fashion, and Michelle Ang is wonderful as the seductive and manipulative Akemi. Supporting parts all worked well for me, except for Morimoto (Venant Wong), whose accent seemed extremely out of character. While there are a few parts that don't play quite as well as others (such as the setup during a fight sequence in Higuchi), on the whole this was a pretty entertaining watch, and even those who aren't Xena diehards can appreciate it.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image quality is generally pretty good, though there is quite a bit of interlace artifacting present on my progressive scan display. Colors are saturated, contrast is good, and black levels deep, but a few scenes are overly dark compared to the rest. Compression issues are minor, for the most part only affecting smoke or background details.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Prologic surround audio is impressive, with a full tonal range and good use of directionality. The soundtrack is enveloping and dynamic, and packs punch when appropriate. Dialogue is easily discernable. A very solid presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Rob Tapert, Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Conner
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus footage
  2. Photo gallery
  3. DVD ROM screensaver
Extras Review: A couple of nice extras are included. First is a feature length commentary track by director Rob Tapert and series stars Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Conner, who is present with her baby (she was pregnant during this shoot). The three have a roundtable discussion on the series, with Lucy as the principle participant, commenting on everything from her hair to edits she isn't totally happy with. The trio also discuss a lot about the relationships of the characters, and how each played their parts, and there are some long burning questions answered here.

A half-hour long featurette covers a lot of on-the-set action, from rehearsals to shooting. Choreographing the final fight sequence is also seen in detail. There is not a lot of fluff in this piece, which gives an eye-opening view into how some of the elaborate battle sequences are constructed.

There is also a 23-image photo gallery, and instructions on how to install the DVD-ROM accessible screensaver for both Mac and Windows systems. A selection of trivia questions is contained in the leaflet.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

The grande finale to one of television's most popular action adventure series is presented in an expanded form here, putting the director's touch on an ending that completes the journey that began six seasons prior. The story goes back to its beginning, fitting the final pieces into the puzzle, and closing the book on the legend of Xena, Warrior Princess. Recommended for action junkies, and of course, the legions of Xena fans.


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