Genius Products // 2006 // 176 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 19th, 2007
It takes the love of a princess to steal the heart of a thief.
This made-for-TV miniseries starring David Carradine (Death Race 2000) gets a DVD release and brings with it nearly three hours worth of cornball dialogue and pastel colors. Are you ready?
Carradine stars as Bird, a former soldier who's taken to life underground, harboring unwanted children and training them in deadly martial arts. His prized pupil is D.B. (John Reardon), the first boy he rescued and one of the most talented fighters in China. He's also a thief, but that's cool because he's into income redistribution, swiping from the rich to feed Bird's brood of street urchins.
The ultimate score presents itself when a call goes out to the princes of the region that Shanghai's governor's daughter is ready to be married off. D.B. and Bird see this is an opportunity to get into the palace and make off with some riches. But what neither of them count on is the D.B. going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs when he lays his eyes on the beautiful princess.
D.B. and two other princes, including a shifty little bastard (Rupert Graves), vie for the princess's hand in marriage, each of them forced to embark on dangerous quests to earn the right of jumping into her wedding bed.
If I may use a Saved by the Bell analogy here, Son of the Dragon is like Ginger, the character played by Bridgette Wilson, Zack's airhead blond bimbo girlfriend from the episode "The Senior Prom;" it's nice to look at and can be intermittently entertaining, but ultimately is too fluffy and shallow to merit a long-term commitment. And with Son of the Dragon you are looking at a loooooong commitment.
Clocking in at a few minutes short of three hours, this epic will test the bladder durability of any viewer. For me, it was my ability to absorb a steady onslaught of corniness that was tested the most. Anyone who spins this disc can expect lots of cutesy dialogue and playful music and fight scenes that are more like romps than full-on battles. It's a light-hearted feature, sporting neither the tragedy of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon nor the majestic engagements of Hero.
Carradine is low-key, bordering on goofy here. His role is that of the wizened, wry old teacher who busts the balls of his more athletic, looser cannon pupil, blasts out some impenetrable hokey wisdom, fights himself and a stunt double in a cave, escapes from a CGI fire and shows up at the last minute to engage in the film's climactic fight scene but mainly just flies around on wires. Actually, he's pretty entertaining here and shows off a deft comedic touch. Reardon matches him in the charisma department, as well; too bad the underperforming script gets in the way. Fleshing out the rest of the cast is Graves, who turns in a boilerplate villain performance and Desiree Siahaan as the clamored-for princess is beautiful and looks great in her costumes and is likable and that's about all that's needed I suppose.
About those costumes; hands-down, the production design on this film is the highlight. The sprawling vistas really do give an epic feel, the costumes are varied and hugely colorful and the sets are ridiculously ornate. As I said, this is a fine-looking movie and though its humongous runtime hides a more effective and efficient and briefer film and the plot and dialogue was too cheesy for my tastes, I was impressed by the effort put forth in staging it all.
A solid release by Genius Products. The film receives a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that excels at pushing those pretty colors. Scenes with much detail look very good and the expansive China backdrop is most appealing. The 5.1 surround mix is active. Only two extras for you: the making-of Son of the Dragon and an interview with David Carradine, both adequate additions with insight into the filmmaking process, but nothing groundbreaking.
Long on runtime, light on action, flush with cheese, Son of the Dragon will supply you with three hours worth of extravagant costuming and way too much farting around. And I didn't event mention the dragon! Or the flying carpet!
Guilty of overuse of pink dresses in the third degree.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 176 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* David Carradine Interview
* Making-of Featurette