Dragon Pearl Blu-ray Review
Dragons are fascinating creatures. They can fly and breathe fire. Kids just love the things because they are so mysterious. They are not limited to one culture either. You see stories about dragons from the East and the West. One of the problems with THE DRAGON PEARL is that we don’t get enough of the dragon. Heck it is in the title, so it should be prominently featured.
An interesting part about THE DRAGON PEARL is that it was filmed entirely in China in one of the biggest studios in the world. Another issue with the film is that we don’t get more of the local flavor. It is a missed opportunity since not many features are filmed in this mysterious land with so much to offer. This was a joint Chinese-Australian production, so hence the characters are from China and Australia.
The movie starts out with a story from thousands of years ago of a Chinese emperor who was in dire straits. He was a good and kind emperor, but he was under attack. Hope was almost lost when a dragon lent its pearl to the emperor. The pearl gave him unbelievable powers. The emperor was eventually victorious. However he lost the pearl in the heat of battle. The emperor died from the grief of losing this precious item and the dragon was left without its power. That was what was written, but we all know that history is written by the victors. And the victors don’t always tell the whole truth.
We fast forward to the present day and archaeologists are digging up an old tomb. The dig is led by Dr. Li (Wang Ji) and assisted by Chris Chase (Sam Neill looking a bit bored). Chris is joined by Josh (Louis Corbett), his son from Australia. Dr. Li has her daughter Ling (Li Lin Jin) around to keep Josh company. Josh and Ling are two opposites here. Josh is still stung by his parent’s divorce and the lack of attention his father pays to him. Ling is more outgoing and inquisitive. Josh though does have a keen mind and is good at puzzles. Both their strengths will be key going forward.
The pair gets into an adventure when they follow a man who was kicked off the dig. He leads them to a temple. Wu Dong (Jordan Chan who supplies much of the comic relief) states that his family has guarded this temple for thousands of years. Wu realizes that Ling has a special gift. She is the only one who can hear him play his flute. She is thereby dubbed the “chosen one”. They all know about the story of the pearl and the dragon. Ling finds a secret passage that lead below. That is where Ling and Josh come face to face with the dragon. Josh was preparing for the worse before the encounter. He just knows the dragon from Western standards. It was Ling who informs him that Chinese dragons are different. Apparently Chinese dragons are more benevolent and here to help. They also don’t breathe fire which disappointed me greatly. Their first encounter didn’t end up well as Ling bumped her head.
The parents naturally don’t believe the teens about their tales of a dragon. This leads the younger pair to strike out on their own to find the pearl and give it back to its rightful owner. The dynamic duo finds out the truth about the pearl and the story involved. The chase scenes that follow are marginally exciting. I thought how the pearl is retrieved is a bit farfetched and needed all sorts of things to happen. But you let things go when dealing with a family flick.
THE DRAGON PEARL is just an okay movie. The best thing going for it is that it can be watched by the whole family. There is nothing really objectionable to be seen or heard. There are no in jokes or adult humor that will confuse kids. The fight scenes are Jackie Chan lite. When the dragon appears, it is fun to see. There is one entertaining sequence involving flying. You can almost never go wrong doing that. I wanted more of the dragon though. I wanted to know about his history and what made him tick.
Judging the acting ability of teens can be tough and hard to do. But I will just say that I wasn’t impressed with either of the two young leads. They seemed stiff and lacked the chemistry needed to make a good team. Having said that, I thought Sam Neill didn’t exactly bowl me over with his skills. The story didn’t give him much to do, but when he was on the screen there wasn’t the usual fire that he displays. Maybe he was just home sick.
THE DRAGON PEARL may entertain the little ones for a time. It will be quickly forgotten once they watch a better film.
DRAGON PEARL BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The images look better in the daytime scenes. Some of the nighttime scenes don’t have the same clarity needed.
Audio: The sound is fine. I was disappointed they didn’t have a close captioning option. There were times where I had difficulty understanding what Li Lin Jin was saying.