DARK KINGDOM: THE DRAGON KING
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
A young blacksmith named Siegfried (Fürmann) manages to single handedly slay a dragon, and manages to come across a treasure after disposing of it. However, like Homer's frogurt, the treasure carries a terrible curse, which really ruins his day, and his relationship with the Terminatrix...err...Queen Brunhild (Loken).
Is it good movie?
Upon first setting out to watch this film, I thought that it seemed to be very long, certainly too long for a feature length film, almost padded out. It was then that I realized that it was actually a miniseries developed for the Science Fiction channel, so i'll give it a bit of breathing room before I bring my medieval axe down on it. What this flick turns out to be is a better than average warrior tale which, while too long, still maintained my interest.
Upon doing some research, my initial thought that this one just came about as a blatant LOTR ripoff (due to the fact that our hero comes upon a cursed ring) was proven wrong, and Tolkien himself was actually partly inspired by this myth when penning his tale.
As far as the flick goes, it's quite watchable. The story is the glue that holds this one together, everything else is pretty mediocre. The acting is ok at best, our hero is too old and comes across quite campy, always grinning a big jackass grin, but it's always great to see the Warlock (Julian Sands) still getting paid, even if it is in hammy, villainous roles. My other gripe is that the effects budget was low, and we got denied the big money shot dragon fight! This isn't to say you don't see the dragon at all, but oftentimes the audience is told, instead of shown, what should be happening on screen. Dragon King has a strong first half, which builds the story and characters nicely, and features the most action, while the second half becomes seriously drama-laden and can seem like a lame romance novel at times. Also, just to be clear, this movie's title can be misleading: the Dragon isn't the king, but the guy who conquers him is. I know, I was disappointed too.
Video / Audio
An epic transfer of 1.78: 1 from Sony makes for a nice picture.
In the audio department, all the gasps, shrieks, clanging metal and dragon fire can be heard through a fine 5.1 Dolby digital track that I dug.
This disc had extras when I was expecting none, but they're nothing really special.
We begin with Sagas, a 5 minute featurette regarding the history of the myth, and how some of the actors feel about the tale (they like it, can you believe it?). In my opinion, most featurettes that are only 5 minutes long don't have much to say :P
The Journey Begins deals with the process of bringing this movie out, and how the producers had to constrain things for a small budget. This one's about 10 minutes long, and kinda neat to see the tricks the filmmakers employed to get this bad boy looking good under the circumstances. Interesting to note: Uli Edel originally wanted to bring this out much earlier through Dino De Laurentiis, and in my opinion, the film would've had a better audience then.
Heroes is another 10 minute piece regarding the actors who got cast in their respective parts, and how much they love each other. This is as standard as it gets, nice to see Max Von Sydow getting some props though. It's hard for me not to think of Benno Fürmann as a mix between a low rent Arnold mixed with Kevin Sorbo.
Swords runs about 7 minutes long, and deals almost completely with the creation of, and interaction with the big bad Dragon. It's always neat to see how often actors have to fight against nothing and make it work. That being said, if you've watched the special edition of Sin City, you'll know that was much worse.
Sorcery also checks in around 7 minutes long, and could go along with swords as a similar featurette. This one deals with all the special effects within this flick, and as you've probably already guessed, the biggest deal in this one was the dragon, so it focuses mostly on that.
It should be noted here that the quality on these featurettes often dips, and looks like it was smeared with mud and sounds like it was filmed underwater. That being said, there was a fair bit of pre-production stuff here, but I often found that even in the other parts, it could be a murky mess.
Oh, and what would a straight-to-video Sony disc be without trailers? This one has 7 of em: Exorcism of Emily Rose, Ringers, Eureka, The Fog, Dragon World, The Cave, and the Godzilla Compilation.
If you dig fantasy flicks, i'd recommend this. It was actually much better than i'd expected, even if it doesn't hold a candle to our favorite epic Trilogy. If nothing else, you'll have a laugh at some corny antics and maybe even get a little caught up in
Kristianna Loken's Chest ..err..the story.