Dragon Storm (Review)
Maxwell Caulfield as Silas (aka Huntsman)
Angel Boris as Medina
Woon Young Park as Ling
Richard Wharton as Remmegar
John Rhys-Davies as King Fastrad (aka King Gimli)
John Hansson as King Wednesbury
Directed by Stephen Furst
In space, no one can hear you….dragon? Yes, Space Dragons. Space Dragons that invade the Earth. Not modern day Earth, but Carpathia in 1190 AD (The Carpathian Mountain Range area I am guessing) where the dragons fight a clan of Medieval Stereotypes as well as a low budget. But for the cheap price of under $1 million, this flick managed to do very well. Most of the money seemed to go to the special effects instead of things like extras or costumes, so most of the film makes you think that Europe only had about 100 people in 1190. Dragon Storm was directed by Stephen Furst, if that name is familiar to you, you may remember him from Animal House, as he played Flounder, but no one shows up asking for 10,000 marbles. It’s admirable how Flounder took what was obviously a ridiculous idea destined to be another forgettable made for Sci-Fi Channel movie and turned it into an actual enjoyable Sci-Fi film that reaches near the top of the list based on the action/monster scenes alone. The main character is rather forgettable, the supporting actors outshine actor Maxwell Caulfield without breaking a sweat, despite his desperate attempt to become the Aragorn of Dragon Storm, instead becoming dragon fodder. Because we need some more explosions, Dragon Storm contains a token Asian Guy from China who comes equipped with this magic powder….that explodes…. Also he knows kung fu. Besides Playboy playmate Angel Boris, the film’s main headliner is John Rhys-Davies, of Lord of the Rings and Indy fame. Considering he’s also starred in Chupacabra: Dark Seas and is making the Uwe Boll film Dungeon Siege at this moment, someone needs to learn how to say “No” once in a while. Enough of the actor’s problems, we’ll deal with him in the review. Now, onward to Space Dragon invasion awesomeness!
Meteors in space head to the Earth, and they ain’t gonna play checkers. They slam into the countryside of the Carpathian area in 1190, destroying a poor sheepherder’s house. When the dragons emerge, they soon set to flaming and eating whatever they come across. Traveling in space makes you cranky, so the dragons quickly set out to destroy everything they come across. They flame the poor sheepherder and he’s still smoking as he reaches the nearby fortress, which the dragons get to a few seconds later. Soon we got flames everywhere, things blowing up, and dudes with swords running around screaming. It’s spectacular.
A Runner from the Fortress reaches the castle of King Fastrad, aka John Rhys-Davies. The castle guards don’t believe the Runner’s story about dragons and threaten to relieve him of his “nuggets.” We are introduced to King Fastrad next, or as we’ll call him for the rest of the review, King Gimli. King Gimli is an evil king, who’s plundered his crappy kingdom, which is currently undergoing a famine, and he wears a crown that is too generic to even have been given away at Burger King. King Gimli dreams of conquering the neighboring kingdom which is run by a King Wednesbury, but he can’t afford men to do it. King Gimli laughs at the Runner as well, and is about to de-head him when the dragons show up and burn the crap out of the castle. King Gimli barely escapes with a few of his goons, while the rest of his people become charcoal dragon food. Even broke and on the run from monsters, King Gimli plans to ask King Wednesbury for help, then take his castle from the inside. While lost in the woods, they run across our Hero character, Silas. No one calls him Silas for most of the movie, he’s almost always called Huntsman, so to remind you he’s supposed to be Strider/Aragorn.
Huntsman agrees to lead the lost King Gimli to Castle Wednesbury in exchange for a valuable ring. King Gimli doesn’t want to give it up, but is threatened at the end when he refuses to pay. Inside Castle Wednesbury, King Gimli chats with the king who is already aware that Gimli’s kingdom is destroyed but doesn’t believe the dragon story. We also meet King Wednesbury’s daughter, who is Playboy Playmate Angel Boris! Angel Boris is a tomboy hunter girl, I am surprised they just didn’t go make her an elf. Must have wanted to save some makeup money to use for the dragon special effects, which was a wise decision. They could have made her a Space Elf, and had Space Dwarves also. Maybe even a Space Aragorn. But we’re all spaced out. Now, when you are the king’s tomboy Playboy Playmate daughter, you always go hunting while wearing a low-cut shirt with a lacy bra sticking out, even though bras haven’t been invented yet. Angel Boris is an expert in playing a hunter in Sci-Fi Channel movies, as she did the same in Boa vs. Python. In fact, King Wednesbury’s guard is played by Jeff Rank, who was reporter Kent Humpheries in Boa vs. Python. Also, B vs. P was partially written by Sam Wells, one of this writers here. Boa vs. Python and Dragon Storm are like two peas in a pods. Except one is space peas, and the other is oversized CGI snake peas. Connections, connections…
King Wednesbury agrees to help King Gimli, but only if King Gimli agrees to start spending all his plunder on irrigation and farming. Basically, forcing Gimli to be a good king. Gimli is POed, but has no other choice. King Wednesbury still doesn’t believe the dragon story. Meanwhile, in the surrounding forest, Huntsman finds a dead body with giant spines sticking out of it lying around charred earth. He is ran across by Princess Angel Boris and her party, where he’s captured after they notice the valuable ring he has, the ring of a nobleman. Huntsman beats up the guards but won’t attack the Princess, so is taken prisoner. In jail, King Gimli shows up to take back his ring and gloat, as well as telling the Huntsman that no one will believe him if he tells of King Gimli’s coup plans that he overheard in the forest. Away from all of this, some people we’ve never seen before give a giant pod thing to some old guy we’ve never seen before. They found it in a “Poe-tay-toe” field, and take it to the old guy’s laboratory. Enough of those people, we’re gonna jump to some giggling kids in the forest, as two dirty boys are deciding which of the two giggling dirty girls they are gonna sex up first in a dank cave. This meeting of the Medieval Dead Poets Society is cut tragically short when it is discovered they have chosen the Dragons’ home cave as their sex romp meeting location. We don’t learn it’s home until the end of the film, but I see no reason to delay your knowledge of that fact.
It’s trial time, as the Huntsman is defending his life. He claims the quills were on the dead body before he found it but doesn’t know what it was from. Princess Angel Boris agrees but gets into a verbal barrage with the Huntsman over who is a better hunter. The King tells the Huntsman he’s now hired to hunt for the Kingdom…to hunt Dragons! The old guy we never saw before who had the lab is the King’s resident scientist, Remmegar. Every medieval story has a random old scientist guy who invents stuff that wasn’t invented for hundreds of years, and Remmegar is ours. Remmegar explains the pod is a Space Dragon that didn’t survive the fall to Earth, and explains all it’s anatomy as well as to the audience why the King suddenly believes in dragons. The quills are from the dragon’s tail, and there is a gas pouch on the dragons’ necks that give them their fire ability, which is also a good place to shoot the dragons to kill them. There are five dragons spotted by their scouts, and the movie switches gears to become a “band of people fight monsters” movie. Huntsman and Remmegar now need to find some other people to go along with them. They start a fight in a local “pub” (aka an open air pub, since they couldn’t afford an indoor set) to see who wins, and it happens to be an “Oriental Fellow.” Thanks to slow motion and speed up footage, Ling manages to beat up the entire “pub” so he is now drafted (after some considerable coinage given to him.) Well, it’s nice to see an Asian Guy in one of these Sci-Fi Channel films who isn’t killed instantly (Frankenfish) even if he has no business being there. He also allows them to explain the gunpowder that will be used later for the big explosions, just like in The Scorpion King where the inventor guy who Remmegar plays here claims to have gotten a powder recipe from an eastern guy.
How will Ling’s Kung Fu power stop the dragons? Is he going to flying kick them to death? Did Remmegar hear about Crouching Tiger, Leaping Dragon and think that Ling will fly up into the air and attack the dragons with his bare hands?
Next in the hunting party is the resident engineer, who will be creating the weapons that would give the humans some sort of method to destroy the dragons. In this case, she’s played by a hot girl named Nessa, who built a giant ballista/crossbow to avenge the deaths of her family by the dragons. Rounding out the party is King Gimli’s General Guy, Princess Angel Boris, the Head Guard of King Wednesbury, and some random guys to work Nessa’s weapon. Not a few minutes after they leave, there is a DRAGON ATTACK! King Wednesbury’s Guard is killed instantly, but the Huntsman helps lure the dragon close enough to the ballista for it to be shot down. Now there are four dragons left.
DRAGON ATTACK! Wait, worse…DRAGON TRAP! All four remaining dragons close in to try to finish off the band of heroes. The ballista jams, and Nessa has to cut a rope on it to get it to fire. A second dragon is killed when it does. These attack scenes are amazingly done, it’s the best of any Sci-Fi Channel film I’ve seen. After the death of Dragon #2, the remaining three fly off, defeated for the day. The Heroes head for an Inn for the night, where the Huntsman walks in on Princess Angel Boris naked. Well, not naked for us, as we don’t see anything without the help of freeze-frame (and that doesn’t show up on the TV version), and Princess Angel Boris doesn’t care. How exciting. I mean it’s exciting that they could afford an inside set for once. It’s also exciting that someone tries to kill the Huntsman, yet we don’t see who it could be (Gimli’s General Guy.) It could be anyone (Gimli’s General Guy.) And I mean anyone (Gimli’s General Guy.) It’s even more exciting when Ling gives the Huntsman White Tiger Penis Soup. Because between that and the nude walk-in scene, that’s as much as we’re going to get for sex in this film.
To ramp up the Asian stereotypes, we get a weird debate of Eastern vs. Western ways with Ling and Remmegar as gunpowder is introduced. They then stumble across the Dragon Cave next, and instantly agree it’s where the dragons live. I guess it would take too long to set up that part of the movie any further, so let’s just agree that off camera they saw a sign saying “Home, Sweet Dragonroost” outside the cave. Unfortunately, they accidentally set off some of their explosives, which awakens the dragons. One dragon is killed quickly with an exploding arrow (which looks pretty sweet) but some dragon quills are shot at the ballista and it’s jammed, with a lit explosive arrow set, thus causing the ballista to explode, taking most of the extras and Nessa with it. Only two bombs are left, and Ling uses his Asian ninja powers to tie them together into a bola, which he flings around the neck of Dragon Number Four, blowing it to kingdom come. Hey, look, there’s still one more extra! Oops…he’s just been killed by the carcass of Dragon Number Four, who falls on top of him. Remmegar returns from having waltzed into the cave, complete with what the dragons were guarding, an egg/pod. Mama dragon is pretty mad, so she shoots some spines, which nail Huntsman in the back. Remmegar gets half of himself eaten. Poor Remmegar. As a fellow scientist, I pour out my forty for the death of a brother of the lab coat, even if he’s just a stereotype.
Because the Huntsman is Aragorn, he can’t die so easily. Therefore, he gets some Eastern Medicine thanks to our friend Ling. Eastern Medicine meaning gunpowder burnt along the wound. Well, it’s better than White Tiger Penis Soup, I guess. Gimli’s General Guy tries to kill the Huntsman again, because his family is threatened by King Gimli, but he’s shot by Princess Angel Boris. Dying, he reveals the coup plans, and the Huntsman vows to stop King Gimli. It’s too late back at Castle Wednesbury, King Gimli and his goons have seized the castle and the tin foil crown from King Wednesbury. The Huntsman’s brilliant plan is to give the Dragon Pod to King Gimli, as a gift to the new king. This Trojan Horse of sorts works, as King Gimli remarks “This is the first complementary gift I’ve ever received!” What is this guy, Emperor Tod Spengo from Mom and Dad Saved the World?
The Huntsman and the remaining heroes free King Wednesbury, and fight to retake the castle at night. Since the good guys and the bad buys have no uniforms, we can’t really tell who is who. So, root for the guys dressed in dirty rags, not the other guys dressed in dirty rags. The Mama Dragon shows up to add to the confusion, just as the Huntsman retrieves the ring he had gotten earlier from King Gimli. Mama Dragon eats the head of the army King Gimli used, then incinerates King Gimli. Mama Dragon flies around some more, then is shot right in the gas pouch by the Huntsman. BOOOOOOM!! Dragon pieces litter the courtyard of the castle. Later in the forest, the Huntsman gets to kiss the Princess, while….deep in space…MORE DRAGON METEORS!
Duh duh DUH!
Where did they get the money for their dragon effects? It’s beyond the best work done for Sci-Fi Channel. Director Flounder sure knows how to get his moneys’ worth. The action-filled dragon sequences make the movie, and make it well. The dragon fighting is top notch, far better than mainstream films like Reign of Fire, though the movie could have used Alexander Siddig. The characters seemed carved out of stereotypes culled from period-piece films from the past three decades, with the main character carved completely out of wood, as his acting attests. The film also tries at points to throw in Lord of the Rings elements. Notable clues to this are John Rhys-Davies, the Huntsman character attempting to be Aragorn, and a ring being important. John Rhys-Davies obviously needed something more to do, so they tossed in the coup subplot. Dragon Storm shows that the Sci-Fi Channel films need not to have monsters that look like cheese, but some of their effects can stand up to mainstream scrutiny. That is a bigger feat than anything else accomplished by the film, despite its other bright points. If any Sci-Fi Channel film deserves a sequel, it’s this one.
Rated 7/10 (The Ring; Flaming Melons; The Runner; Dragon in the Window; Yo, Dawg, Wassup?; Ye Olde Mappe)
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