25 September 2023

Xena: Warrior Princess, The Ultimate Collection

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Directors: Michael Hurst, Charles Siebert, Robert Tapert, Anson Williams, Michael Levine, Via Vision Entertainment.

Cast: Lucy Lawless, Renée O’Connor, David Taylor, Ebonie Smith, Aaron Devitt.

It’s more than 23 years since Xena: Warrior Princess first came into our lives in 1995 and has remained a major part of pop culture ever since. The series follows Xena Lawless) and her travelling companion Gabrielle (O’Connor).

Xena is on a quest to redeem herself for her dark past by using her formidable fighting skills to help people. The series is also remembered for a few other things including the tiny, tight-fitting costumes worn by its lead characters, the circular spinny device Xena threw at people called a chakram (she also uses a sword) and Xena’s amazing ululating war cry.

It was interesting to learn that both the two main characters in the series – Lawless and O’Connor – were not the first choices for the roles which they luckily landed.

Xena: Warrior Princess, a historical fantasy, burst onto the screen with a bold premise for the time, which featured a strong female hero on a journey of redemption. Xena, the former warlord, went on far-reaching adventures with her fast-talking companion Gabrielle to atone for the sins of her violent past. She has outwitted gods, defeated massive armies and found redemption through conquering insurmountable tasks.

Lawless is unforgettable as the mighty warrior princess. She’s attractive, likeable and charismatic, portraying a heroine who could physically handle a fight. Now, through this collection, you can join Lawless as she and her faithful friend Gabrielle confront immortals, villains and monsters alike in the ultimate quest to protect the innocent.

Thanks to her challenging ideas of femininity and masculinity, for many, Xena was an icon of feminism, female empowerment and strength.

The opening narration describes how ‘a land in turmoil cried out for a hero’ and then presents the hero in question with an emphatic ‘she’ as we see Xena riding into battle.

The nine-part collection – there’s 51 discs in the boxed set – covers all six seasons that equates to 134 episodes.

While it is hard to choose a favourite among the episodes, there are some that deem a mention. Knowledge of mythology in ‘Prometheus’ (Season 1) comes in handy.

While on their adventures, you get a chance to catch a glimpse into the daily life of Xena and Gabrielle, a lighter episode titled ‘A Day in the Life’ (Season 2).

The Maternal Instincts’ episode is heart-wrenching for the two heroines (Season 3). ‘The Bitter Suite’ (Season 3) is a musical installment that’s far from being a disaster!

The two-part series finale ‘A Friend in Need’ (Season 6) is a must-see event.

Adventure-seekers everywhere will enjoy watching all seasons together, uninterrupted and back-to-back.

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