It’s an epic along the lines of “Gladiator” and an actioner along the lines of “Black Panther.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Woman King” is compelling, exciting and character-driven. Set against the background of the slave trade, it’s yet another platform to showcase the talent of the marvelous Viola Davis as General Nanisca, who leads an army of women known as the Agojie.

Nanisca is loyal to tribal ruler King Ghezo (John Boyega) who respects her. She has endured horrible experiences, including captivity and assault. She wants to keep other women from experiencing the horrors of her past life.

Young women, some of whom have been declared incorrigible, become part of her community. In her training camp, Nanisca keeps them away from rival tribes and teaches them to be fierce, fast-thinking warriors

Among the new arrivals is Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), who has had the courage to refuse an arranged marriage. Nanisca recognizes a strength in Nawi, but also sees her attraction to a man who could be a threat.

I have enjoyed Prince-Bythewood’s work before. If you have seen “The Old Guard,” also a kind of warrior tale, you have seen her keen direction and the riveting way her action scenes unfold.

Not only does the film include intelligent drama and believable character development, but it also has one of the most enjoyable soundtracks I have heard this year. Add to that the visuals of the costumes, and you have an engaging tale that has a basis in history – you can read more about that here – the scenes of slave trade are cringe-worthy and memorable.

Davis’s name deservedly tends to crop up on “best of” lists at awards time. Because of “The Woman King,” expect to see her name, once again, on awards-prediction lists.

Rated PG-13 for violence, assault, and other adult material.

3 ½ stars

Running time: Two hours and 15 minutes.

At Cinemark, Davenport; Regal, Moline; and Palms 10, Muscatine.

Watch the trailer here.