Dragon Blade Blu-ray Review
What did I just watch?
I received DRAGON BLADE on Blu-ray with zero information about the film. The cover displayed three names of notoriety. While the trio of Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Oscar winner Adrien Brody have all delivered talented performances in their own right, the cast combination felt a bit odd. But I like each of them well enough and am always excited knowing as little as possible when entering a film. I quickly learned that DRAGON BLADE is not meant for me. It is an over-the-top, R-rated, Chinese action, period piece that earns an intentionally bad, straight to video distribution in America.
When corrupt Roman leader Tiberius (Adrian Brody) arrives with a giant army to claim the Silk Road, Huo An (Jackie Chan) and his group of trained warriors named the Protection Squad teams up with an elite legion of defected Roman soldiers led by General Lucius (John Cusack) to maintain the delicate balance of power in the region. To protect his country and his new friends, Huo An gathers the warriors of thirty-six ethnic nations together to fight Tiberius in an incredible epic battle.
Jackie Chan is the clear star of the film with a good-doer character whose purpose is to turn foes into friends. The action star has a few exquisite fight sequences that audiences are accustomed to seeing. However they come too far and few between, often involving an obvious stand-in when fighting against the likes of John Cusack or Adrien Brody. The acting is atrocious all around, particularly from John Cusack, but it almost feels intentional as he woodenly proclaims unnecessary dialogue full of exposition and evident declarations. Adrian Brody is bad in a more delicious way, playing exaggerated evil with conviction. They seem to be fully aware of the poor material and embrace it. The problem is the material is far too long (127-minutes) and dramatic to achieve the “so bad it’s good” level.
Directed by Daniel Lee, DRAGON BLADE jumps around in time without warning and flashbacks to moments that were already seen. The production is extravagant with lots of costuming, big set pieces and on-location set designs, but none of it feels authentic. It also has some weirdly placed musical moments that I think were meant to evoke emotional responses but mostly came off a bit comical. While it may be excruciatingly bad in story and editing, I believe DRAGON BLADE may have achieved the entertainment level that it was intending for its Chinese audience as it was a box office success in its home country. Despite a few fun moments involving Jackie Chan’s fight choreography, the box office success in China does not translate to a quality film worth recommending.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p 2.39:1) The picture looks excellent
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound is also terrific.
Behind the Scenes of Dragon Blade (21:28): Jackie Chan explains a little bit about his character and this ultimately is a pretty standard look with some insight being the making of the film.
“Song of Peace” Music Video (3:14)
“Please Tell the Wind to Bring My Father Home” Music Video (4:10)
Dragon Blade Trailer