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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.
I recently watched this film with the kids and coming from a family of
divorce was very impressed with the father/son relationship included in
The effects were great and the kids really loved the dragon!
Acting was also good was nice to see a familiar face in Sam Neil and I found Li Lin Jin's performance very impressive!
Would definitely recommend this movie to others, especially families with children and preteens. It is an exciting, humorous and original plot and had the kids on the edge of their seats the whole way through.
Nothing. Happens. Even while things are happening, nothing is
happening. The kids were pretty good actors, especially for a kids'
film, and the sets and effects were likewise not at all grating.
That said, expect about 50 minutes' worth of movie to be crammed into about 94 minutes of your day. Prepare for exposition by narration. A retelling of the exposition...by narration. People standing around. People looking at things. People thinking about things. Repeat shots of leaves...blowing around. Suppose there just wasn't enough script for a whole movie, which was a shame. Thought it could've been great.
I would say if you have a kid who's into dragons or Asian themes, definitely give this one a shot; it's clean as a whistle content-wise. Just that I can't imagine watching this again only for the reason that the whole time I was going...come one, come on, something HAPPEN!
There are some cool shots of kids playing Chinese drums that are AWESOME. They're shown at the beginning and end credits and have nothing to do with the plot; so that's really not a spoiler.
I rated the Dragon Pearl a 6. For me, liking is >7, and disliking is
<5, so this one fell into the Almost Good or Kinda Liked region.
It's a movie to take your preteen kids to and feel good about (if they aren't movie buffs).
The positives are: - the movie speeds along quickly to use up it's 95 minutes - has a reasonable script - nice mix of Aussie and Chinese actors, with the kids being best - dragon FX are good/minimal/oriental looking
The bads are: - Sam Neil was in it and didn't want to be - story line is way too predictable with typical parent/kid relationships - action sequences really should be left out, they are awful
My rating is 6 out of 10: I kinda liked this almost good movie
I think some of the other reviews of this movie missed the point. This
is a movie for kids. Specifically, kids at an age where they are
watching TV shows like "Mako Mermaids','iCarly', 'Dog with a Blog',
'Big Time Rush', etc. My ten year old loved it, and can't wait to watch
We chose this for our weekly 'family movie night', and it was a nice alternative to the animated shows we often have to resort too, since we try to limit our family movies to G or PG rated fare as much as possible.
Sure, the plot was 100% predictable to my wife and I. But it was still fun and entertaining none the less, and our kid really enjoyed it. In that context, it was one of the better movies we have seen in the past few months and I would highly recommend this movie to parents looking for something to watch with their young children. In fact, my wife wants to show the movie to the kids in her after school Chinese program because it's a perfect way for them to start using the Chinese they have learned in a fun context that also exposes them to some Chinese culture.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As mystical stories go this one was right on the money. A tale about
kings, wars, and dragons. Josh (Louis Corbett) comes to china to be
with his father who is an archaeologist of old Chinese artifacts. With
him is a woman assistant Dr. Li (Wang Ji) who's daughter Jin (Lin Lin
Jin) is part of a family that dates back six thousand years into the
Jin realizes that she can hear a flute, which cannot play by ordinary means. Rather a monk Wu Dong (Jordan Chan) uses it to call the chosen one (Jin) to go, and find what is known as the Dragon Pearl. Which in turn belongs to an actual dragon that has been buried underground for nearly six millenniums. Now both Josh, and Jin embark on an incredible adventure to retrieve the lost pearl, and give it back to the dragon so he can go back to the celestial plane.
Yet in the foreground is josh's father's second assistant Philip (Robert Mammone) who wants the pearl for himself, and its power. After convincing Josh to steal a book key Josh opens a tomb for which the pearl itself is hidden from curious eyes. Now with the pearl he is betrayed by Philip, and is on the run with Jin to get the pearl back to its rightful owner.
All in all, this was a great family film. It had good action, not over the top. The music was pleasing to the ear with the mystical sounds of old songs. Seeing the dragon itself was done really well with its grandiose slithering movements. Tales of old spoke of the dragons as good luck icons where the common folk look to them for guidance, and well being.
A mystical aspect if there ever was one in this film. It had sadness, happiness, humour, and adventure. Highly recommended to all ages.
The storyboard of this family-friendly (no graphic violence, gore,
sexual scenes etc) Australia-China produced movie is pretty original,
with touches of Steven Spielberg's ET and Jurassic Park. In fact, Sam
Neill is one of the stars, together with Jordan Chan (if you watch Hong
Kong action and comedy flicks, you will know him).
Filmed in Hengdian World Studios (Forbidden Kingdom featuring Jet Li and Jackie Chan, Zhang Yimou's Hero etc), the sets involving the underground emperor's tomb and the golden dragon's cave are very convincing.
Above all, the scenes featuring the golden dragon are simply fantastic! In fact, this film has actually set the minimum benchmark for a CGI celestial dragon (with matching awesome audio effects), in true oriental fashion (watch out for the tongue-in-cheek cross references to conventional dinosaur-like/monster-type dragons during the movie).
In future, any self-respecting film featuring heavenly dragon(s) will need to measure up to the life-like CGI rendition in The Dragon Pearl. For this alone, this movie gets 9 out of 10 from me (the presence of Sam Neill and Jordan Chan helped, of course)......!
Not in a good way, either. I expected a family fun adventure to take up my Friday night but instead it made me feel like it was Monday morning I was in that much pain. The bad acting and bad special effects really added to the torture and I admit that I cried a bit during the special effects. The dragon looked like a flying dog with badly synced audio that sounded like it had been recorded with a phone. I'm not saying this is the worst movie I have seen, it's just number 1 on my top worst movies I've seen. My friend came over halfway during the movie and I had to turn off the TV so he wouldn't see the "movie" I was watching. All in all, I loved it.
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