Man At Arms brings Danny Trejo, star of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete and delivers him in a role he’s perfect for; TV show host. When I think of Trejo, machismo is one of the first terms I imagine. So it seems like a no-brainer to pair that man with a diligent crew of weaponsmiths, then have them create history’s most bad-ass weapons and set them loose in the hands of skilled martial artists who demonstrate the savage power of melee combat.
The show is entering its second season, with its first episode having premiered last night. LRM had a chance to get its grubby little hands on the first three episodes of the season, and here’s what I have to say about it — as someone who didn’t check out the series’ first season (though given its format, it’s not as though that matters a whole lot).
The show reminds me of Deadliest Warrior, but with a bigger budget. If you’re a film buff, then you will certainly find enjoyment watching the footage licensed for this show — though we’d expect nothing less from El Rey, a network with a taste for genre film history. In one particular instance, Trejo discusses the history of a deadly Naginata Samurai blade. This is interspersed with clips from Takashi Miike’s epic Blade of The Immortal. It’s hero Manji slices through line after line of enemies in close combat.
We get authentically-made lethal weapons designed by Trejo’s posse of weaponsmiths. The show’s creators do a great job capturing the craftsmanship which goes into transforming raw materials into deadly weapons. Of course, the weaponsmiths aren’t using assembly tools from the specific dynasty, but it’s not like many folks are looking for that much authenticity…or are they? For me, it doesn’t take away the marvel inherent in watching these craftsmen crank out blades that would make Kill Bill’s Hattori Hanzo blush. Trust me, you’ll be a loyal follower after you witness the Power Hammer in all its mighty glory.
The icing on the cake must be when Trejo recruit’s real-life experts for each weapon. These gals and guys are modern day weapon experts. It’s like having a real-life Samoan Rambo on set standing beside the real-life Machete. The two discuss the weapon before the expert demonstrates each weapons capability. The results are shocking. Ever seen what hardened sharpened steel is capable of in the hands of someone that is certified to use it? Look no further than Man At Arms.
Like many shows on El Rey Network, it isn’t the type that’ll please everyone under the sun. It’s a very niche show — one that really indulges on the geekiness of its audiences, which is a great thing. But if you’re one to really let your inner nerd dive deep, this is the way to go, even if you’re not all about weapons. Sometimes, the love of seeing your favorite film weapons in real-life is enough to spark interest, and if that’s the kind of person you are, it may very well appeal to you as well.
Though if there was one criticism I’d give, it’s that it runs a bit long — with each episode clocking in at about 45 minutes in length. Everything we see here is good, but by minute 45, I’ve more than had my fill and am ready to move on. In many ways, this feels better suited to a webseries, or even a half-hour show without actually sacrificing much in terms of content. A lot of the information feels like it could have afforded some cuts and condensing.
But when all said and done, I’d say it’s still one worth your time, especially you’re a fan of genre films and shows that indulge in weaponry.
Man at Arms: Art of War airs on El Rey Network on Thursdays at 8pm ET!