Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Digital and DVD from writer/director Mark Amin, Pat Charles and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is the story of an EMPEROR.

It is the pre-civil war South and Shields Green (Dayo Okeniyi) has an important job on the plantation where he is a slave. He makes sure that things run smoothly as the plantation owner would rather spend his days gambling his life away. In a final bet, the plantation is lost, and the new owner isn’t as happy to have Shields continue.

Putting a new man in charge, he is vicious and cruel finding ways to hurt Shields. He is willing to take it for his family but when returning home one day he finds his son has been severely whipped. Wife Sarah (Naturi Naughton) knows how Shields is going to react as he attacks the overseer who did it.

Once he confronts the group of men, it is chaos and all Shields can do is run with his family. Tragedy strikes and as Shields gets farther and farther away, the more people know he is a wanted man. Finding Levi Coffin (Bruce Dern), Shields asks something from the man before being chased once again by bounty hunter Luke McCabe (Ben Robson).

Shields then meets John Brown (James Cromwell) who brings his sons along to fight slavery and all those who participate in it. Brown takes Shields to meet Frederick Douglass (Harry Lennix) who offers to help him escape to Canada to start a new life. Shields makes it clear that he is going nowhere until he retrieves his son Tommy (Trayce Malachi).

Okeniyi as Shields gives a passionate performance of a man who wanted the best for his family and was willing to whatever it took to make that happen. When he is pushed because of injustice, Okeniyi gives his character the justification for what would become a symbol for many. It is a difficult role to play but he gives it what it deserves.

Cromwell as John Brown does what he always does, put in a performance of a character that is strong in belief and sees Shields as a man to know. His ideals make him stand up and challenge anyone who gets in his way, no matter the cost. Lennix as Frederick Douglass sees Shields as a powerful image and wants to save him, but Shields has other plans. Lennix always plays interesting characters and as a fan of Frederick Douglass, he did the man justice. Dern as Coffin is a man who wants to help Sheilds and his character portrayal is unexpected.

Robson as McCabe is hired to find Shields and keeps him running. This character has a proper evil streak and it shows. Naughton as Sarah wants to protect her son and her husband but knows that there is only so much a person can take when it comes to his family. Malachi as Tommy is a young man who experiences a horrific event, but his father isn’t going to let him experience it ever again.

Other cast include Kat Graham as Delores, M.C. Gainey as Randolph Stevens, Mykelti Williamson as Truesdale, Paul Scheer as Duvane Henderson, Mark Ashworth as Reverand, Brad Carter as Grady, Nicholas Logan as Gunther Bowman, Chip Carriere as Tom Affleck, Sharon Blackwood as Adel Acklen, Brian F. Durkin as Erbert Jenkins, OlConnor Hammond as Oliver Brown, David Kallaway as Sam Bowmine, Erin Boswell as Abigail Henderson, and Lil Buck as Meshach and Ben Aycrigg as Watson Brown.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit

EMPEROR is a film inspired by a true legend and the journey of Shields Green. As part of joining John Brown at Harper’s Ferry and a part of the abolitionist movement, the film gives a history of what forced Shields’ hand to fight for his son and others.

There were so many historical figures that came into his life and in the short time of one hour and forty minutes, the film does squeeze a lot of history into a short period of time. Of course, there is so much more to the story as well. Fleeing South Carolina wasn’t the beginning of his story, but it is where the film picks up.

His life was a short one, but the events had an impact on other still in slavery and the abolitionists who wanted to make a difference in the fight for freedom.

In the end – son of Kings and a father of revolution!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.