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Josh (Louis Corbett) and Ling (Li Lin Jin) thought they were in for a boring vacation with each of their parents at an archaeological dig in China. But the new friends soon discover they're right in the middle of an adventure when they find a mysterious monster that's been hidden deep in a temple for thousands of years. Josh tries to warn his father (Sam Neill) about the strange and magical creature, while Ling senses bigger forces at play. They soon realise that the monster is really an ancient Chinese Dragon, trapped on Earth because it's been separated from its magical pearl. On a breathtaking journey of good and evil Josh and Ling must uncover the mystery of the pearl so that the dragon can finally return to its rightful place. Written by
I had the opportunity to catch this film as a prerelease promo. Knowing nothing about it except that the story took place in China I thought it would be a good waste of an evening. It was. A waste, that is.
There is a long standing tradition among American film viewers that, with rare exception, any movie with the word "dragon" in its title is going to be disappointing. The Dragon Pearl is not one of those exceptions.
The entire thing feels like it was written, cast, and directed by a high school drama team. The story is bland and predictable, following the typical adventure theme. The characters were cookie cutter clones of every adventure movie character we've seen. The actors might as well be made of cardboard for all the emotion they showed. The poorly choreographed fight scenes rely on bad camera angles and 1 second shots to drive them along. And the film itself... maybe it was just the version I watched, but it had a grainy late-80's style to it. (Think: The Goonies.)
I missed about 1/4 of the dialogue due to lack of subtitles (Chinese and English are both spoken throughout the movie) but that should be fixed in the actual release.
The dragon itself amazed me. It wasn't very good (it looked like a plastic toy) but the amount of fluidity to its movement was excellent. It swam through the air, curling around itself, almost like a slow moving eel. They really should have textured it better.
All in all it's one of those budget flicks you won't mind watching on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Assuming there's nothing else to do.
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