27 August 2000
A bit of ancient 'girl power' in 'Xena: Warrior Princess', JAKARTA POST
The popularity of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys inspired the series' production team to create Xena: Warrior Princess, which has proved to be a huge hit with viewers around the world.
It is the story of a woman warrior, Xena (Lucy Lawless), with weapons, including a sword, imbued with magical powers.
Since it premiered in 1995, Xena has shown itself to be more than run-of-the-mill TV viewing. It offers spectacular views of Chinese palaces, Indian panoramas and rustic Europe (New Zealand doubles for the actual locales), with Lawless winning new battles every week.
The series and star Lawless have acquired their own cult followings.
Greek, Roman and Chinese myths are interwoven into the storylines, with gods and goddesses featured in different episodes. Xena is a mighty princess whose village was attacked by the warlord Cortese. Her brother was killed and her family separated in the strife.
The series draws viewers with its ancient setting -- the warriors, costumes, weapons, old homes and grand palaces.
Xena can fight with the best of them, using her skills and doing her utmost to escape marauding villagers and assailants. Yet she also cares for women and children, with her own personal code of conduct which bars hurting the innocent.
Xena is accompanied on her travels by her friend Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor), who set out to follow Xena to win a scholarship to the Athens City Academy of the Performing Bards. Leaving her father Herodotus, mother Hecuba, younger sister Lila and fiance Perdicas, Gabrielle embarked on the round of adventures with Xena.
During the journey, Gabrielle also acquired warrior skills from Xena and eventually gave up her aspirations to become a bard. The two women enjoy a deep, sisterly friendship.
Xena's antagonists are Callisto (Hudson Leick), Ares (Kevin Smith) and Draco (Jay Laga'aia), the regular mainstays of the series.
Executive producers Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi, who also produced Hercules starring Kevin Sorbo, get a thumb's-up for making a TV series on a standard with quality movies.
Yet they may receive a thumb's-down from parents, because violence predominates in every show. Kids love stories about heroes, but the spilling of gore and guts may be a bit much for them.
Tapert, who is Lawless' real-life husband, went on to collaborate with his longtime partner Raimi on The Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn, Darkman and Army of Darkness after producing the horror film The Evil Dead, starring Bruce Campbell.
Raimi was a director and cowriterof Army of Darkness; executive producer of the feature films Hard Target and Timecop, starring Jean- Claude Van Damme, and the cowriter of The Hudsucker Proxy, starring Paul Newman, Tim Robbins and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Under the team's Renaissance Pictures banner, Tapert and Raimi have produced Xena, Hercules and American Gothic. Raimi has produced a new 30- minute series, Cleopatra 2525, which premiered in the United States in January 2000. Like Xena, Cleopatra features female warriors, this time taking on evil aliens in futuristic storylines.
Star Lawless continued to star in the series when she was pregnant with her first child from her marriage to Tabert. Her pregnancy was written into the storyline.
Born in Auckland on March 29, 1968, Lawless also has an 11-year- old daughter, Daisy, from a previous marriage to high school sweetheart Garth Lawless.
Episodes from the fifth series of Xena are currently being screened every Sunday on SCTV at 11:30 a.m.
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