December 21, 2020 Dragon Soldiers (Movie Review)
Grindstone Entertainment Group and Hollywood Media Bridge present Dragon Soldiers, a 90-minute virtual experience. Imaginatively and artistically directed by Hank Braxtan (Snake Outta Compton 2018, The Horror Crowd 2020), this virtual dragon egg hatched on DVD, On Demand, and Red Box on December 15th.
Throughout history, dragon legends have held such mystical appeal that just their mention hurls the imagination into a swooping glide into the world of fantasy. And just this thought gives rise to a place where humongous fire-breathing, winged creatures roam free amid a landscape of castles, hidden caves, and hidden treasures. Literature is, of course, peppered with such dragons in fantastical sagas like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. It has even managed to claw its way into the mainstream consciousness with the ever-popular role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons.
So how can another entry into the game of dragons grab your attention, you ask? Read on.
One marvels at the exquisite beauty of a rare dragon egg held in the cup of a hand. Suddenly, the egg becomes scorching hot and inevitably falls and shatters. Inside lies a dragon’s eye. The pupil flickers and transforms into a video portal where a larger-than-life full moon is seen gliding gracefully across a pitch-black sky. A rustling sound and a man armed with a rifle zoom into view, but he is not alone. Under the cover of night his team moves stealthily forward on the trail to its target’s lair. The sound of machine gunfire sets one’s teeth on edge as screams of terror pierce the silence.
Then, oh my god—Did you hear that? It’s the rumbling sound that 400 souped-up engines would make if they were all running at the same time. Something ahead is moving into clear focus, and there stands a ruthless killing machine shooting lateral fire plumes from its gaping mouth! At this sight alone the human heart is beating as fast as a hummingbird’s wings as terror puts one in a chokehold.
Immersing himself deep into his role as Mayor Eddie Mordry, Butch McCain (Bio-Dome 1997, The Vaxx 2019) plays a convincing politician at his wit’s end. Struggling to find a solution to the disconcerting numbers of missing persons who never return from the nearby woods, he must resort to enlisting the help of mercenary Artie Cameron (Ruben Pla: Insidious 2010, The Kill 2014) and his team.
Their mission is seemingly simple: ‘handle’ this pesky missing persons problem and restore the mayor’s political clout with his constituents. A shake of hands seals the deal and Artie strides off, confident that he will resolve the issue and save the day. Little does he know what is in store for him and his crew. Can they maintain their sanity and their lives until the job is done? Do these brave knights have what it takes to vanquish the beast?
In the role of Artie, Ruben does a superb job of showing exactly how much of a risk-taker his character is, and just how much he is willing to sacrifice for the right price. And as his motley crew heads out towards their destination, there is one among them whose value to the team will be questioned by all. Poor Hollis (Tarkan Dospil: Chemical Peel 2014, Snake Outta Compton 2018) is seemingly out of his league, but you must hand it to him, the man takes it in stride. His apparent saving grace is his expertise in explosives. Relaying all of this, Tarkan does an excellent job in making his character endearing, exposing his vulnerabilities, and showcasing his fortitude and wherewithal to get the job done.
Meanwhile, Antuone Torbert (Soul Hunters 2019, Blader 2019) plays the part of Julius Green, an impressive Rambo-type who is focused on discipline and getting the job done as expeditiously as possible. He imbues his character with an underlying strength and intensity. Similarly, Arielle Brachfeld (Snake Outta Compton 2018, Battle Scars 2020), embodies the essence of the park ranger, Gwen Peters, a firecracker whose recklessness eventually casts her into the role of a damsel in distress. However, her vast knowledge of the forest becomes the essential intel for the mission at hand, and her sensitivity to the cause endears her to all.
Put all these characters together and you have this modern-day fantasy, which is well-paced and action-packed with some dark humor. The cast does a great job in bringing their respective roles to life, and, well, that dragon? He exactly matches what some moviegoers will visualize a dragon to be, and he’s a smart one to boot.
David Yousefi (Star Wars: Episode IX- The Rise of Skywalker 2019, The Lion King 2019) created a compelling trailer score, while Edwin Wendler’s (X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014, Second Date 2019) score is exactly what this movie needed to keep up its suspense and maintain the mystical connection between the story and its audience.
This movie is cause for celebration, for if you are having a hard time finding that special gift for the Fantasy lover on your Christmas shopping list, Dragon Soldiers is ready for gift-wrapping. So deck the halls with dragons, because Cryptic Rock gives the film 5 out of 5 stars.