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This is one of those movies which is insanely enjoyable for the sole
purpose of laughing at how badly the makers tried and failed to make a
watchable movie. The paper-thin plot revolves around the future being
all post-apocalyptic and plagued by a nasty disease (which is referred
to by a made-up name which would make it a bacterium even though it's
called a virus), so the pretty-boy main character goes back to 1999 (in
a time machine seemingly made of spare planks and leftover parts from
someone's school science project) to find the cure. Of course, he's
followed by a couple of bad-asses and his wife, who randomly takes her
top off before going through for no apparent reason. Then later on she
takes it off again, after saying "but not before we rest and have sex".
Yes, that's a direct quote.
Anyway, most of the movie involves random fighting, interspersed with hilariously bad dialog, random nudity and acting so wooden you could hammer nails into it and make a porch from it. It also seems to have been filmed through a camera lens smeared with vaseline, edited by a monkey and mixed on a $50 boom box tape recorder. In other words, splendid stuff if you're looking to go a bit of home-mysting.
After making his acting debut in RING OF STEEL one of the best films
about weapons-fighting I have ever seen swordsman Robert Chapin
followed it up with this little independent disaster. DRAGON FURY is an
ambitious outing that partially recycles the premise of THE TERMINATOR
with swords in place of robots, without a hint of a substantial budget.
Though it bears the Troma label, this is likely a third-party
acquisition because despite its hokeyness, it lacks the inspired cult
spirit of the likes of THE TOXIC AVENGER. Not to spoil the rest of the
review, but this movie isn't very good.
The story: A warrior from a dystopian future (Chapin) and his cohort (Chona Jason) travel back in time to 1999 and attempt to recover the cure for a devastating disease while being hunted by the minions of an evil overlord (Richard Lynch).
From the opening shots of a mass slaughter taking place on a flimsy outdoor set, the viewer knows s/he's in for the amateur experience. Things improve a little when the characters travel through time and have the public property of Los Angeles to elevate the production standard, but the single-camera cinematography and restrictive indoor locations never let you forget what kind of a movie you're watching. The tone of this college-level production is inconsistent and inharmonious: for the most part, the performers are trying to tell a semi-serious action yarn, but aside from moments of massive overacting, there are instances where it seems like a rogue goofball took over the production with intentionally bad comedic scenes and silly inserts (e.g. goofy voiceovers when characters are stabbed). I don't know what to make of this, other than be unimpressed.
Though Richard Lynch gets top billing, the real villain of the piece is T.J. Storm, given his presence and the fact that his genuine athletic ability is one of the few highlights of the film. Though the fight scenes that he contributes to are plagued by occasionally silly choreography and vague repetitiveness, Storm and Chapin and a handful of martial costars are fun to watch and their smooth sword-fighting is a welcome change from kickboxing. The fights are virtually the only reason one would want to watch this movie, other than for laughs, but even I can't get maximum enjoyment out of the ten or so duels due to the underutilization of Chona Jason and the absolutely embarrassing finale between Chapin and Lynch.
DRAGON FURY has enough spirit and enthusiasm to save it from a lower rating, but it's still a cheap movie that can hardly afford its own special effects and features some blatant goofs (get a load of T.J. Storm's white stunt double). I don't think it's funny enough to achieve cult status, rendering it as little more than a cheap action movie that made questionable choices of how to maximize its resources. Let it be.
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