Directed by Eric Styles, 2013's Legendary (originally titled Legendary: Tomb of the Dragon) follows a cryptozoologist named Travis Preston (Scott Adkins) who, like others in his field, has dedicated his life t proving that those species no one believes in actually do exist. They do this in the name of science and of preservation… all except for one, that is, and that man's name is Jim Harker (Dolph Lundgren). He's a hunter, more interested in the kill and the trophy than the science. When one of the members of their expedition winds up dead at the hands of a giant bear, the wedge that exists between the two men grows ever deeper.
A few months later, devastated by the loss of that team member, and Travis has retired. That doesn't last too long, however, as a wealthy man offers to fund an expedition for him and the rest of his team to head to China to search out what is believed to be a giant lizard. He agrees and off they go, but once they start poking around and looking for evidence they quickly realize that Harker has beaten them to the punch. Eventually, Travis and his crew catch up to and then surpass Harker but he's bound and determined to stop them from getting to the creature first. All of this eventually builds up to a pretty predictable showdown between the two sides and the giant lizard, the creature rendered entirely in painfully bad CGI.
First things first, this is not the hard-edged action movie you might expect given the lead casting of Adkins and Lundgren, particularly when you consider just how heavy and intense their work together on the last Universal Soldier movie was. Rather, Legendary is more of an adventure film and one that plays safely within its PG-13 rating at that. Action junkies will likely walk away from this one disappointed, as the potential these two have both shown and lived up to plenty of times in the past is fairly wasted here. While the Asian locations used for the shoot give the film a welcome exotic flair and provide for some admittedly very nice visuals, the aforementioned CGI work to create the creatures that the characters encounter is literally a step or two below your average made for TV SyFy creature feature. When you can't buy the creature that the characters are going up as real, it makes it hard to get too concerned for their wellbeing and in turn, to care about the movie much at all.
The movie does give the two leads a chance to do something other than run around causing mayhem and their performances, respectively are decent enough. Dolph isn't really breaking any new ground here, he plays the arrogant and egotistical hunter character effectively enough and he's fun to watch. Adkins plays the brainier, more considerate scientist type and he too does fine in the role. They have some good scenes together and handle the material well. With that said, there are some pacing problems that compound some of the other issues already noted. Additionally, there are some massive logic gaps and very questionable decisions made by characters in peril, the kind that make you face palm and wonder why they'd do something like that in such a situation. Having said all of that, if you're a Dolph fan or an Adkins fan, yeah, this is worth seeing but you need to go into it with the right set of expectations as realistically it isn't as good as many of their previous efforts.
Legendary arrives on DVD in 2.39.1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer looks fine, really. The movie was shot on high end digital video so obviously there are no issues to note with print damage. Detail is solid and there aren't any obvious compression artifacts. The aforementioned lousy CGI doesn't really help, mind you, but that's not an issue with the transfer. Colors are reproduced nicely and black levels are solid. This movie was shot and meant to be shown in 3D (the promo materials in the extra features back this up) but this DVD offers only a regular 2D version.
The sole audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix but it sounds good. There are plenty of directional effects used throughout the movie quite well and bass response is strong enough to matter when the action scenes kick in. Dialogue stays clean and clear and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion. No complaints here, the mix sounds good. Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.
Extras start off with a featurette called The Making Of Legendary, a fifteen minute piece that is made up of interviews with the cast featured in the movie. There's quite a bit of behind the scenes footage here, including some odd bits of actors running around in blue suits so that digital effects can be applied later. We also get some cool footage showing off the exotic locations used in the movie and some footage showing off some of the fight choreography featured in the movie as well. Aside from that, we also get a selection of interviews, a five minute piece with Dolph Lundgren where he talks about shooting in China and what he liked about this project, and a six minute piece with Scott Adkins where he talks about his character, how he enjoys trying different things as an actor, and what it was like working on a picture that is essentially a family adventure movie in 3D. Rounding out the extras on the disc are a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Lionsgate properties, static menus and chapter selection. This release also comes with a download code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy.
Legendary is a pretty generic action/adventure movie but it does feature some fun work from its two leading men. The bad creature effects are a pretty big strike against this one though, and the lack of any real originality hurts things too. It's entertaining enough in a ‘rainy Saturday afternoon, nothing else to do' sort of way but hardly an essential watch. Lionsgate's DVD offers only a 2D presentation but it does look and sound pretty decent and contain some moderately interesting extras. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.