Dragonquest (2009)

DragonQuest

If I said “Hero’s Quest, voyage of self-discovery, swords & sorcery, now write a film” I feel pretty confident that whatever you wrote would have at least 50% similarity to this. If you responded to my very curt demand, that is. Anyway, there’s a reason that clichés are clichés, I suppose, because they’re easy to understand and popular and can occasionally act as a sort of cinematic shorthand; but if you were some unusual creature which fed on the power of cliché, you would be stuffed by the half-hour point of this film and would explode by the end.

Akadi is a kid in a village, told by Grandfather (a title, as everyone calls him that) that he’s the subject of a big prophecy, and must go and get all the jewels to fill up a magic amulet, which will give him power to defeat the evil army of Kirill. Kirill can summon up a dragon made of smoke and fire, which appears to have been made using the free version of whatever special effects software the Asylum had (yes, it’s an Asylum joint), and can also control minds and choke people telekinetically. That he has a big black cloak ‘n’ hood and talks with a weird distorted voice is clearly definitely not intended to make him resemble fantasy Darth Vader, oh no.

A dragon, apparently

A dragon, apparently

So, Akadi sets off, meets the super-hot warrior Katya (who luckily has her makeup kit with her at all times), but he’s been told by the prophecy or whatever to meet Obi-Wan Ke…sorry, Maxim, an old warrior who will train him and help him on his way. Maxim is Marc Singer, who you may remember from the Beastmaster movies, and he gives it his “all” here, overacting like crazy, wrinkling his face and up delivering some lines in a mighty strange way. The first crystal is in a lake with a giant snake thing in it, so Akadi has to go into it…but Asylum clearly couldn’t afford to build an underwater set. I genuinely can’t tell if it’s just a pitiful effect or a joke, but “underwater” is represented by a weird colour filter and sort of stilted movement. He even lights his little hash-pipe down there (yes, the hero is a bit of a pot-head). It’s one of the more bizarre things I’ve ever seen in an Asylum movie, so hats off to them I suppose?

The underwater effect pales into insignificance compared to perhaps the biggest continuity error in Asylum history, because they draw such attention to it. Maxim gives Akadi and Katya some cryptic advice then sends them on their way, only to emerge over a hilltop as they’re finishing off the next fight, ready to put aside his hermit-y ways and join them. He’s even had a shave, combed his hair and put on a new set of clothes, looking ten years younger. So what happens in the very next scene? He’s back scruffy and unshaven! WHAT? If he turned up for reshoots looking like that, and that’s the only scene you needed him for (it’s certainly the only scene he’s clean shaven in the entire movie), why not put him in a helmet or something? Shoot him from behind? Virtually anything other than what you did? That Akadi’s shirt changes multiple times, often repeatedly in the same scene, is way less noticeable (but certainly an indicator that they really ought to hire a continuity person).

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Akadi keeps on collecting the stones, all of which are ludicrously easy to find, one of which he basically stumbles on by accident. They’re supposed to represent the heroic virtues, or something, but I’m still not sure which virtue is tied to walking into a cave and avoiding a giant spider? Katya is all hot for his bod, despite them having zero chemistry; he gets captured but when he escapes, he still has the amulet like they never took it from him; despite Maxim at one point being surrounded by six soldiers, they – fortunately for him – stick to the “one at a time” method of fighting a fantasy movie hero. And so on. There are a few big fight scenes too, and the soldiers are a chubby lot: I’m sure not all medieval soldiers were Adonis-like, but if I was a king and this shower turned up on the battlefield, I’d be distinctly unimpressed. Next time when you’re putting out the call for extras, why not ask for people who look like they’ve had a fight before? (although I’m positive they were all unpaid interns, there’s no way the Asylum pays for extras).

How thoroughly rotten this is. Marc Singer is just about the only reason to watch, and you’d be far better served with one of his Beastmaster movies instead. It’s ugly and cheap and should be avoided at all costs.

Rating: thumbs down

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