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DVD Review: Defendor

April 13, 2010

Defendor – An Alliance Films Release

DVD Release Date: April 13th, 2010

Rated 14A for violence, coarse language, and sexual content.

Running time: 101 minutes

Peter Stebbings (dir.)

Peter Stebbings (screenplay)

John Rowley (music)

Woody Harrelson as Arthur Poppington / Defendor

Elias Koteas as Chuck Dooney

Michael Kelly as Paul Carter

Sandra Oh as Dr. Ellen Park

Kat Dennings as Kat Debrofkowitz

© 2009 Darius Films Inc. All Rights Reserved. © 2010 Layout and Design Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. Distributed Exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Special Features include:

• Commentary with Writer/Director Peter Stebbings,

• Producer Nicholas Tabarrok, Woody Harrelson and Kat Dennings

• Deleted Scenes

• Blooper Reel


• Origin Stories: The Genesis of Defendor

• Removing the Costume: Behind the Screenplay

• Hereos and Villians: Meet the Players

• An Actor’s Director: Working with Peter Stebbings

• Famous Last Words: Wrapping Defendor

Will Include O-Card Packaging

Our reviews below:


Defendor DVD Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Woody Harrelson plays the title character in Defendor, a Hamilton-filmed superhero-crime-drama, with acute, childlike brilliance.  During the day, Arthur Poppington works a menial job at a construction site, but at night dons his homemade costume, armed with a genius array of gadgetry – and complete with a duct-tape “D” on his chest, and fights crime as Defendor.

What makes Defendor work so well is the choice to film it as a gritty, crime-drama, rather than a sleek, superhero film, and to not play it for apparent comedy.  Defendor’s actions are sometimes darkly hilarious, but at the same time grounded in a poignant reality, that make the film not only entertaining, but emotionally moving.  It’s great to see a film this good come out of Canada.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, outtakes, and a bunch of featurettes on both the origins of Defendor and the making of the movie.


Defendor DVD Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

Taking place in Hamilton, ON, Canada, Defendor is a crime-drama, with an unexpected hero at it’s front.  The title character, (Defendor by night, Arthur Poppington by day), is played superbly well by Woody Harrelson.

The character of Defendor, as is mentioned once in the film, has a mild developmental delay, although in some ways, he is smarter than most.  His clear sense of morals guides him, and his imagination helps him to find ways to bring down the ‘bad guys’ in the least destructive ways possible, such as with marbles…  Despite how it may sound, this is not a silly little film, it is serious, and believable.  The way Woody Harrelson plays the character is never stereotyped, nor anything but real.  We believe Defendor is a real person – or at least could be, and it is this fact that carries the film.

Defendor’s reasons for relentlessly trying to track down who he calls Captain Industry, is personal, and although it could have become one, this is not a story of dark revenge.  It is thankfully a story about standing up to injustice and figuring out what is right in doing so.  Trusting his instincts, he knows what it means to be a hero.

I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical about how good this film was actually going to be.  I was figuring maybe **1/2, or *** stars, having seen the trailer only once a while ago.  I love being surprised by a film like this though.  Defendor is a very real, emotional, and moving drama about a man doing what he feels he is truly meant to do.   For teenagers and adults, this is a must see.


Defendor DVD Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Set in the city of Hamilton, ON, Defendor is a sweet and moving drama.  Arthur Poppington (believably played by Woody Harrelson) is a construction worker with a developmental delay.  At night, Arthur dresses up as a superhero, and goes by the name Defendor.  On the lookout for “Captain Industry”, Defendor rescues Kat, a young woman, from prostitution.  Arthur wants to help Kat quit her cocaine addiction, and she wants to help Defendor defeat “Captain Industry”.  As we find out why Arthur believes he really is Defendor, we realize there is actually a lot of truth to what initially seems like only a delusion.

Defendor touches on a lot of important issues such as poverty, adults with developmental delays, mental health issues, addiction, and human trafficking.  Arthur Poppington’s childlike, but intelligent insight into these issues, as well as his distaste for guns, is thought provoking and provides an important message.  Both funny and heartbreaking, Defendor is definitely worth checking out.  I would especially recommend this film for high schools.


Defendor DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Arthur Poppington is a quiet developmentally challenged construction worker by day and is a surprisingly resourceful crime fighting superhero, Defendor, by night.  Arthur/Defendor is played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson.  He manages to capture Defendor’s childlike perspective on fighting the bad guys in Hamilton without resorting to stereotyping the character’s mental abilities.

Defendor has a lot of darkly funny moments related to the character’s homemade defense gadgets.  It is however an action drama.  The story is written so that you do care for Arthur/Defendor and what happens to him.  He pairs up with a young prostitute, played by Kat Dennings and much of the violent crime fighting he undertakes is in her defense.  The violence does come across as real and you cringe every time something goes wrong for Defendor and cheer when he manages to thwart the bad guys.

This is a very watchable, touching drama.  The performances all around are strong, especially Woody Harrelson.  Fans of this interesting actor will want to check out Defendor.  Those who know the city of Hamilton will enjoy playing guess the location.


Defendor DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

As a man with obvious intellectual challenges, Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) works when he can for the city works department and squats in one of their workshops. He has fitted out one of their big Mack cherry picker trucks with various crimebusting gadgets and in his work suit complete with helmet lights and camera, backpack VCR, mascara mask and duct tape D on the chest he is good to go as the nocturnal Defendor of public decency.  His high moral code calls for the rejection of guns (“for cowards”) in favour of more subtle weaponry–marbles, lime juice, jars of wasps, and his grandfather’s WW1 trench club.  When he saves the crack-addicted hooker Kat (Kat Dennings) from a bad date with corrupt undercover cop Chuck Dooney (Elias Koteas), she crashes with him and helps provide the information he needs to go after the arch-villain he calls “Captain Industry”, who turns out to be a local Serbian crime boss (Alan C. Peterson) on the verge of major expansion of his operations.  Despite his goofy tactics, hoods would do best not to underestimate Defendor.

I must admit a certain bias up front, since it was not only filmed but is actually set in my thinly-disguised hometown of Hamilton ON, which, having seen better days as a steelmaking “lunchbucket town”, has managed to hold onto some industry while transitioning into a centre of health care and research.  For all that, Defendor is a very moving film, rising above the recent wave of would-be superhero films with its sweet believability, largely thanks to its fine cast and gritty realism free of fantasy.  Directed by Canadian-born Peter Stebbings, it’s typically Canadian balance of comedy, action, and tragedy is brilliantly reflected in Woody Harrelson’s portrayal.  There are some very touching scenes between Arthur and Kat, with a sympathetic court-appointed psychiatrist (Sandra Oh), and with the foreman (Michael Kelly) and his family who took him in.  The soundtrack includes a background radio phone-in commentary on local crime and a good musical score from John Rowley that is appropriately bombastic and foreboding whenever Defendor is on the move.


Consensus: Defendor is a crime drama about a man who believes he is a superhero.  A very real film, it is surprisingly filled with great emotional depth. ***3/4 (Out of 4)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2010 10:09 am

    I thought it was really good. Took me by surprise. I wrote a review at


  2. August 22, 2017 2:33 pm

    Amazing movie, one of the best in the alternative superhero movies together with ”Super” by James Gunn.


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