"Legend of the Dragon" is a movie so misguided, so dopey and sloppy and all around off its mark, that not even the kindest of intentions can salvage it. It has at its core a gentleness, yet smothers its own goodwill with lousy slapstick comedy and a tired romance angle.
The film (not to be confused with the 1990 Stephen Chow flick or the recent Toon Disney series) stars Sammo Hung as Dragon Ki, a tai chi master who abandoned his wife and child long ago, fleeing to a distant village in search of enlightenment after becoming a "kung fu addict." His son, Ki Fung (Huang Xiao Ming), desperate to learn kung fu, sets out to find his once-legendary pop, with his best pal (Timmy Hung, Sammo's son) along for the comic relief ride. It seems Ki Fung has been the target of some bullying, and the bully is moving in on the girl he likes.
The whole thing turns out to be a slight romantic comedy, with everyone falling in love with everyone else (oh, those village lasses, they are lovely!), eventually figuring out who best belongs with whom, just in time for the closing credits. Think of it as an 80s teen comedy, with the geek falling for the popular girl, only to later realize he really loves the funky chick who's loved him all along. It could be quaint enough to get by (quick asides in which characters address the camera directly, dispensing sage advice on life and love, have a distinctive charm to them), but we never really come to care for the characters. The film bounces around from style to style with no handle on the mood swings.
It could, I suppose, have worked had the filmmakers focused on one style. But here, the romance is interrupted by mediocre martial arts showdowns ("Your tai chi against my karate!"), which get interrupted by melodrama (something about the village needing money to save the kids, or something), which gets interrupted by awkward comic interludes (oh, how they bumble!).
Nothing clicks, and it's not long before we sort of glaze over the whole mess, hoping Sammo's natural charms will peak our interest. (They do, but not enough.) It's obvious Hung took the role because it fit his gentle-giant image, what will all those smiling children and monologues about inner peace, but even with his charisma, the movie lands with a thunk. "Legend of the Dragon" is a woeful, fuzzy mess.
Video & Audio
Cinema Epoch's presentation isn't enough to help the flick at all. The non-anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) presentation is soft and muted, while the Dolby stereo offers just enough to slug by. Optional English subtitles are presented.
A brave few Sammo fanatics might give this one a curiosity spin, with a heavy thumb on the fast-forward button. Everyone else will do fine to Skip It entirely.