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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dragon Lord
Dragon Lord
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG-13 // May 11, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted May 17, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Jackie Chan, as many of you know, gained prominence in the movies after Bruce Lee died.  Lee was an international superstar, and his sudden death left a void in Hong Kong movies that producers desperately wanted to fill.  So Jackie Chan, among many others, was put into Bruce Lee style movies.  But Jackie didn't want to live in the shadow of Bruce Lee forever and soon branched out on his own, adding humor to his movies.  He consciously approached a fight scenes in the opposite way the Lee would.  When Lee punches, he is serious and you can feel the power of his strike through the screen.  But when Jackie punches someone, he hurts his fist.  He'll shake his hand and blows on it.  Jackie's first incorporated his ideas for humorous kung fu in 1978's Drunken Master.  It made him a star throughout Asia.

After co-directing a couple of minor movies, Jackie started directing solo with his 1980 film, The Young Master.  This was a big hit, and Jackie decided to direct himself for the second time in the sequel.  Originally entitled Young Master in Love, the name was changed to Dragon Lord when it was released, and any mention of the previous movie was removed.

Dragon (Jackie Chan) is the son of an affluent lord.  He'd rather goof off than study with his expensive tutors or practice martial arts like he should.  He and his friend Cowboy (Mars) often sneak out to take a trip into town or to go hunting.  They spend a lot of time flirting, unsuccessfully, with an attractive young girl, and generally get into trouble.

On a hunting trip one day, they run into a member of a gang who is on the run.  His gang has started looting ancient temples so they can afford modern weapons.  Not wanting to be apart of that, the man tries to get to the authorities before the gang gets to him.  Dragon and Cowboy help him get away, only to run into the man later at a temple later where two thugs are beating him.  Dragon manages to drive the thugs off, with the help of the other people in the temple. This causes the gang's boss to get quite upset, and he comes after Dragon.

This was a fun movie.  Jackie started getting away from conventional karate moves with this film.  He started using a more modern style, and incorporating everyday objects into his carefully planned fights more often. Sometimes the extensive choreography wasn't for a fight scene at all.  There are some great sports scenes that Jackie filmed for this movie.  The film starts out with a four team free for all rugby game that had some very entertaining stunts.  Even more interesting was the shuttlecock soccer game in the middle of the movie.  This was a cross between hacky-sack and soccer, and it was amazing to see how long they could keep the cock in the air without cutting the scene.

Of course the fighting was excellent.  There wasn't much fighting in the beginning of the movie, but the long fight scene at the end was excellent.  Jackie is climbing up ladders and in rafters all the while fighting his enemy.  The stunts are quite impressive.  I was particularly stunned by a slow motion fall from a tall loft into a dirt floor.  There was some pretty impressive stuff included in this movie.  A classic Jackie Chan movie that fans are sure to love.

The DVD:


Why is it so hard to get a quality DVD of a Hong Kong movie?  It seems like every time a movie from the orient is released, they do a poor job on some aspect.  In this case the DVD has a nice anamorphic  widescreen transfer, (yeah!) but no original language track.  (Boo!)  They have also removed the original credits, replacing them with English titles, and gotten rid of the outtake reel that usually accompanies the closing credits of Jackie Chan movies.  (This is according to IMDB.  I've never seen the original version of this movie.)  For a DVD that has a $30 MSRP, I was expecting more.

Audio:

Unfortunately, there is only a 5.1 English dub on this disc. I was really disappointed that they didn't include the original soundtrack.  The dub that they included was fair, about average for a kung fu movie.  The villains all had deep voices, and the sound effects were a little over the top.  Not only are the sounds during the fights too loud, but all the audio effects mixed a little high.  One other strange thing is that the dub track refers to Cowboy as Mars (the actor's name) in some scenes.

The audio quality was good, but not spectacular.  Even though the sound track was in Dolby 5.1, there wasn't a lot of bass in the mix.  The movie sounded a little thin, though the dialog was clear and crisp.
 

Video:

The widescreen anamorphic video looked good.  The colors were bright but seemed to have a slight red push.  The image was a little soft, and there were a few instances of light print damage, a few spots and one torn frame that I noticed.  There didn't seem to be any compression artifacts.  Even with these slight defects, it was a nice looking DVD.

The Extras:

There were not really any extras on this DVD.  Only a couple of trailers for other Buena Vista films.

Final Thoughts:

This was a good movie, but a flawed DVD.  They really should have included an original language audio track, especially for the high retail price that this DVD sports.  The lack of any extras, while not surprising, was unfortunate for a $30 disc.  This is a great movie that Chan fans should see, but at this price and with the quality of the disc I'd say that you are best off renting it.

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