Saturday, 21 May 2011

52 Dragon Movie Challenge – Dragon Hunter Review

It was always going to be an even bigger challenge this week to fall back down from the dizzy heights of pure blockbusting, grade A special effects, dragon action in Reign of Fire. But at some point I had to do it! So when perusing my ever growing DVD collection of dragon movies I found Dragon Hunter, a straight to DVD effort with no major stars.

The movie tells the story of two brothers that live in a peaceful fantasy kingdom, free from Orcs and Dragons, until one day...

Our first murky glimpse of the dragon attacking the village at night...




So the brothers leg it from the village and away to safety following the extremely dark 2 seconds of dragon attack. The start of the movie should be mentioned really as the first 20 seconds demonstrate some truly gripping, effective editing. It should be commended on its originality! However, before I have time to start thinking how original it might be it’s soon back to formula. The deep voice over begins, coining phrases such as “some things are worse than death.” Pretty scary stuff, or it would be if the shots it’s talking over aren’t all lush and green with close ups of dandelions and flowers. At least it’s colourful in comparison to the UK’s grey filter in Reign of Fire!

After some bickering between the brothers about deserting their now dragon ravaged village we get to our first true action scene. Our brothers are camping in Orc territory and they’re soon attacked, but by another group of humans. A fun sword fight ensues and we’re introduced to the scantily clad elven warrior to keep the fan boys happy. In one of the best apologies ever, this group of warriors promise to accompany the brothers to wherever they may be headed due to the mistaken attack. And this is where the plot kicks in. Our brothers (one of them a hard ass Jason Statham lookalike and the other, a blonde haired, blue eyed nervous wreck with no fighting skills or bravery) decide to go to Ocard, the last castle where you can train to be a Dragon Hunter. Yey! Maybe we’ll see some dragons soon then.

On their journey we begin to learn about the new characters. The female Elf scout with a wardrobe malfunction - which shows her annoying flat stomach the entire 90 minutes – the two truly English gentlemen warriors, two annoying fat blokes that bicker and draw attention, a weakling that’s desperate to learn some skills and a large muscled black warrior that’s a mute.

What’s good about this movie so far, is the characters and the actors that portray them. The acting is solid and there’s no overly cheesy scenes which can often ruin a film like this. So far so good.

We get another bonus fight scene to break up the dialogue scenes, this time featuring some stolen props from New Zealand as the Orcs attack. The slow mo running shots, the long black hair, and the dodgily assembled plate armour are all straight from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. But who cares? It’s fun, and our black warrior also has some weird Hulk thing going on, single handed taking on about 15 Orcs.

After 25 minutes and only 2seconds of dragon “action” a character in the movie asks, “and what of dragons?” I’m seriously beginning to wonder...

Thirty minutes into the movie and one of our fat annoying characters – the “comic” relief – cries “Dragon!” hurrah! Finally some dragon action.....?

You wait 30 minutes for a blurred half second of dragon...talk about suspense!




No. The blurred half a second is literally all you get. Then it’s back to more enjoyable characterisation and story, JUST NO DRAGONS!

Our team of travellers take shelter in a nearby village for a bit to prolong the dragon action even further. We learn that these dragons do something really weird. During the blurred “attack” our other annoying character gets severely injured too. But apparently there is some Alien business going on. The dragons are revealed to attack their victims, implant a dragon baby into their stomach, and then seal the wound with their fire. Gross! Luckily we’re not subjected to any of this as the viewer, and all we get is a little lifeless dragon baby prop. Still, it’s a weird Alien inspired trait to add to a dragon!

It’s all very pretty and romantic but show me the dragons!




Leaving the village behind, the movie promises to pick up pace again as they arrive at Ocard, the last training ground for the Dragon Hunters. A nice bit of identity crisis builds between the brothers, a sibling rivalry is developed as the skilled Statham lookalike should be the Dragon Hunter, but perhaps is not. The younger brother is supposedly destined to be the Dragon Hunter, but is afraid of fire!

An elderly man pops up to help our Dragon Hunter on his way. He advises the older brother to shift the plot along as there’s only 25 minutes left. The older brother replies, “How do you tell someone that their destiny is to battle the most dangerous beasts on earth?”

JUST TELL HIM! Sheesh. It’s still fun, but with the clock ticking I wish this had a LOTR inspired running time too, with the last 90 minutes dedicated to pure dragon action. It looks like I’m not going to get my wish.

All of the characters are well portrayed and interesting. But they are heavily inspired by LOTR. The fellowship of the dragon!




Again the film begins to pick up pace again with a full on Rocky inspired training montage to get our would be Dragon Hunter in shape just in case any dragon actually show up properly in this movie.

Fitness training on the steps!




Sword skills...




And of course, the wise old man who talks dragon gibberish, complete with dead dragon souvenir! “It can be killed”




Once our Dragon Hunter is looking a bit more athletic and a bit more up to the job, we actually get a quick reminder of what he might actually be fighting against at some point. With our third blink and you’ll miss it glimpse of the dragon we’re getting somewhere.

Glimpse number three of the dragon, and wizard #2 up to no good.




There’s another unseen attack on another village and our Dragon Hunter is really quite miffed off now. Only trouble is, he needs to spend another 10 minutes of running time to take in every dying characters last words, then scream and cry in slow mo. It’s all done pretty well and nowhere near as bad as I’m probably making it sound, but I’m fed up now. For a movie called Dragon Hunter, he’s done about as much hunting as he has flying. Yep, not a lot.

Not that I was counting, but after 1 hour 22minutes and 42 seconds of characterisation and storytelling, we get our first real look at the dragon! And he looks great!




Ok, so the final fight scene is eventually here, and by this point you do actually care about our characters (which is a good achievement for a straight to DVD movie). Because the Dragon is only on screen for a total of about 2 minutes, the special effects are really really good. Whereas Fire & Ice showed us lots of dragon action with varied effects, this movie uses its budget wisely. The dragon looks like a mix between Jurassic Park’s T Rex and DragonHeart. He looks very good for the shots that he’s on screen. Unfortunately, with only 3 minutes of movie time left, the battle is badly shortlived and the dragon doesn’t get a proper chance to stretch his wings.

The climactic battle is somewhat disappointing, with our heroes doing the sensible option for the majority and hiding in the bushes! (It’s probably what we’d all do, but it doesn’t make for an overly exciting final dragon fight like Reign of Fire achieves)

Our heroes use wise tactics and stay well away from the dragon, hiding in the bushes and taking pot shots with arrows. Needless to say, the dragon isn’t impressed.





After the director decides his audience would be pretty hacked off if he didn’t actually make his Dragon Hunter do anything actually exciting, he finally grants us some real action and puts him right in the mix. The special effects hold up well and the fight is a good one, each of our characters that are still with us turn up for a bit of fighting which is nice.

The Dragon Hunter gets dangerously close:




And this guy is just plain crazy...




And finally some flame throwing action, talk about leaving it late for all the good stuff!




Another final twist reveals that a true Dragon Hunter is blessed with fireproof skin. How cool and convenient!? So, with his top burnt off, our buff young hero gets his confidence and not a minute too soon!

Fireproof skin tends to add confidence to a young Dragon Hunter...





Our victorious heroes in a proper Lord of the Rings shot




Final Score: 6/10.

This movie is a great straight to DVD effort, and deserves the 6. There really isn’t that much dragon action in it (especially not for a film called Dragon Hunter) but the acting and the special effects (when they’re finally on screen) really do more than make up for it. What this movie achieves more than anything is so much more from a potential sequel. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s one in the works... Dragon Hunter: Legend of the Hidden City!

The sequel baiting final shot of the movie:




Next week it's Merlin and the War of the Dragon Empire!

If you live in the UK, you can purchase the DVD of Reign Of Fire from our preferred DVD retailer, Play.com, at the link here

All Images featured in this blog post are Copyright of Metrodome Distribution. 2009. All Rights Reserved.

WIN THE BIGGEST COLLECTION OF DRAGON DVD MOVIES ON THE PLANET! THAT'S ALL 52 DRAGON MOVIE DVD's USED IN THE MAKING OF THIS BLOG! Here's how... All DVD's will be second hand (as i've watched them) and mostly region 2.

All £1 donations to Dragon Zoo through PayPal will get automatically added to our raffle!

At the end of the year we'll pick out one email address that has donated to Dragon Zoo on PayPal and the winner gets all 52 Dragon Movies!! How cool is that?









Every donation equal to £1 (UK) or $1.50 (US) gets an entry into our raffle. All donations need to be approved by a paying adult!
All donations will be used to build a better website for Dragon Zoo and to contribute to future offers and dragon challenges!

(The winner of the raffle will be notified via email at the end of the dragon challenge, all DVDs will be sent via recorded delivery)

ENTER NOW TO WIN THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF DRAGON MOVIE DVDs ON THE ENTIRE PLANET!

No comments:

Post a Comment