COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 89 mins
PLOT: After a cult led by an evil wizard awakens a dark dragon and unleashes it upon the world, it's up to a normal farm boy to go on a quest to try to save the kingdom.
REVIEW: I originally saw a trailer for Dragonquest at the beginning of another of Asylum's BluRay releases, and it actually looked really good and I've been anxiously waiting ever since to finally get to check it out. I finally came across the BluRay recently so I instantly picked it up and as soon as I got home, I popped it into my BluRay player.
Right off the bat, the movie grabbed my interest. The sweeping scenic shots of the beautiful medieval landscapes looked to be almost as good as the ones in the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies, and really helped to set the terrain of this kingdom early on. After that, we move right into the evil cult, led by a powerful wizard, summoning the Dark Dragon from a lava pit in a volcano, and this dragon looked awesome. Just picture it: it more or less looks like a giant shadow in the shape of a dragon, until it's entire body ignites into flames like a total bad ass, and that's how it looks while flying or attacking; when on the ground and not doing much, it's in Shadow-form, but when it takes to the air or it starts attacking people and villages, it ignites like Johnny Storm and it just looked so friggin' sweet.
Much to my dismay though, that's pretty much where the positive stuff ends for this movie. After that opening dragon-summoning scene that captivated me so easily, we cut to a farm house in a small little village where our so-called hero of the movie is caught by his grandfather as he spies on a beautiful neighbor while she changes. All good so far. That is, until someone opens their mouth.
Now, I'm a huge fan of Asylum movies and I'll be the first one to say that, and so because of that I'm used to all the trademarks of their movies, some of which include bad acting, bad effects, and horribly-written dialogue. And this movie is no different, as it has all those things and more. The thing that's different this time is that this has all those things – but the worst I've seen to date from an Asylum movie. From the moment someone first speaks, I knew I was going to be in for a bumpy ride. Acting is normally bad, but here it's dreadfully painful to watch. Even veteran-actor Marc Singer (Original V series, The Beastmaster, Watchers II) is in bad shape. Actually, I didn't even realize that crazy old man was him until towards the end, because he was so bad, I just didn't want to believe it. One of the worst examples of this is during his death scene when he gives a dying speech, yet he doesn't sound like he's in pain or dying at all and he keeps going on and on and on and on. In the amount of time it actually took him to get that speech out and finally die, the others could have easily gone and got him help and maybe even save him. It seemed more like a Bugs Bunny sketch where Bugs is just trying to trick that bald-headed hunter. Main difference is though, the voice actor that does Bugs Bunny is actually good and believable as him. Marc Singer in this movie...not so much. Really, the only some-what competent actors in this movie was the guy who played the main Evil Wizard (not like he really had much to do though), and the woman who played the main female warrior, who, by the way, is also very easy on the eyes in her sexy Elvish-style Wonder Woman-like outfit.
But can you really fully blame just the actors for their atrociousness? It's not like they were given anything believable to say. The dialog was written as if someone had just played a half dozen medieval-style video games and wrote down only the most overused and eye-rollingly bad phrases, stuck them in this script at random points with no mind to if it makes sense within the context of the scene or not, and then made the actors say them out loud. I have no problems saying with the utmost honesty that I have seriously seen most high school plays that have better acting and with better-written dialog, then this movie.
Even my initial impression of the effects duped me pretty good. As much as I love the Dark Dragon with it's flame-fueled body, that is really the only somewhat good effect in the entire thing. We've got an underwater sea monster (really, just a single shot that's re-used over and over), a dragon made of white light, and some mystic energy attacks, and it all looks beyond bad, even by this company's very low standards. And none of these things would even bother me even nearly as much, as long as the movie's story kept my attention, but this one really didn't. The entire movie is based around the fact that this evil cult, led by a powerful wizard, has brought to life this harbinger of doom to take control of the world, and this one farm boy is a boy of prophecy called The Keeper and he must go on a so-called dangerous quest to unite all pieces of this crystal to defeat the darkness. Sounds good when summed up like that, doesn't it? Unfortunately it's not nearly as good on-screen. First off, the quest itself is lame and such a let down. The only part of the crystal he had to do any real work for is when he had to get swallowed by the giant sea creature because the part he was after had been swallowed by the monster. After that, every single piece of the crystal is literally just given to him by random people he comes across during his journey who just so happened to have them. And that's it to this so-called dangerous quest. He now has all the pieces and must go do battle against the evil wizard and his dragon. Man, if only Frodo's quest in Lord of the Rings had been that easy, then maybe the trilogy could have been summed down into a 60-minute short film instead.
But at least the final showdown between the farm boy Keeper and the Evil Wizard, with the future of the entire world as the prize, should be pretty intense, right? Yeah, should be. But isn't. It's as much of a let down as the actual “quest” was. The entire fight consists of the Evil Wizard standing there, palm outstretched, and a beam of energy coming out of it towards the Keeper. The Keeper puts the crystal together, then stands there, palm outstretched, and a beam of energy comes out towards the Evil Wizard, with the two beams meeting in the middle. Spend 5+ minutes of nothing but a shot of the two beams meeting in the middle, cut to the Keeper and a facial expression of exhaustion and getting tired, cut to the Evil Wizard with the same expression, cut back to the beams, then repeat. For 5+ minutes. After a bit, we are spared a little break from that since when the crystal came together a white Dragon made of Light shot out of the Keeper to do battle against the Dark Dragon (never once though do we get anything even resembling an explanation for that Light Dragon), however we hardly get to see that fight. Most of it happens off-screen during the 5 or so minutes we're forced to watch of the starring contest, but when we do get to see it, it's kind of cool. The effects on the Light Dragon aren’t even close to as good as the ones on the Dark Dragon, but the fight itself is pretty cool, though way too short since we quickly cut back to the starring contest for another minute or so and when that's over, so is the dragon fight that we hardly got to see.
After that, the movie ends with The Keeper rushing over to the Warrior Maiden chick (who had her own somewhat-enjoyable fight against a group of enemy soldiers), and he starts making out with her. Why? Who knows. Not once during the movie did it ever even hint at there being a love story or either one of them having any sort of feelings for each other. But sure, why not throw in a potential-rape at the very end. Makes about as much sense as the rest of the movie did.
This is the Eregon of low budget fantasy movies, and well worth your time to just skip it all together, even if you are a die hard Asylum fan such as myself. There are plenty of other way better fantasy movies you can watch, and there are also plenty of other way better Asylum-made movies you can watch.
3/10 rooms in the Psych Ward