Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Son of the Dragon: the Thief of the Silk Road
relic quests are rotten way to choose husbands. They favor the ruthless, like
the tyrant, or the deceitful, like the thief. At least, they rule out the
stupid, like the dithering royal twit. Still, those three suitors represent
some pretty slim pickings for a soon-to-be-betrothed Chinese princess.
Nevertheless, she will find a way to pick a white guy in Son of the Dragon (trailer here), a two-part mini-series that releases today
on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment.
governor of our fair city is not a bad sort and his daughter, Princess Li Wei
is both beautiful and dutiful. Unfortunately, his appointed regent Lord Shing
is cruel and corrupt. To alleviate the people’s suffering, D.B. (or “Devil Boy”)
frequently commits acts of Robin Hood-ish daring. Discovered as a foundling, D.B.
learned his thievery craft from Bird, a former mercenary who now raises cast
aside orphans in his picturesque sewer retreat to alleviate his guilt.
the governor announces an ancient reality show-style competition for nobles hoping
to win his daughter’s hand in marriage, the thief styles himself “Prince D.B.
of the Seven Seas” (I mean seriously, give us a break), in order to gain access
to the palace—and its jewels. Much to the disgust of Bird, Devil Boy is rather
taken with the Princess, deciding to play for her heart in earnest. This does
not sit well with his foster sister Ting Ting, either. She now works as the
Princess’s maid and carries an inexplicable torch for D.B. She knows the big dummy
is in over his head, especially when he starts antagonizing the brutal Prince
of the North.
and edited by the Hong Kong-born, Canadian-naturalized David Wu (known for the Bride with White Hair franchise), Dragon has some impressively large-scale
sets (befitting a Halmi production) and a rip-roaring concluding battle.
However, despite its riffs on the Thief
of Baghdad (there will be the odd flying carpet here and there), the teleplay is burdened with
consistently clunky dialogue and an excess of slapsticky shtick.
course, there is something fundamentally problematic about an adventure set
entirely within ancient China that features three white dudes on its cover. We
can grandfather in David Carradine. After all, he was Caine. He walked the
earth. Not surprisingly, he fares the best, smirking his way through the mini
as the wiser-than-you Bird, until it is time to get busy in his big fight scene
with Bird’s old nemesis.
less said about John Reardon as D.B., the better. However, the casting of the
ordinarily quite fine actor Rupert Graves (Lestrade in the Cumberbatch Sherlock) as the Prince of the North
(which certainly implies Mongolia through simple geography, as well as by costuming)
is pretty darn baffling, especially when Emma Stone would have been so
perfectly suited for the role. Still, he glowers rather menacingly. At least Desiree
Ann Siahaan looks the part of the Princess and flirts quite coyly. However,
only Theresa Lee deserved breakout recognition for the vulnerability and action
chops she demonstrates as Ting Ting.
Despite its flaws, you can definitely see plenty
of Carradine’s roguishness shine through. It would have been much better if Dragon had tacked a darker course, like
Netflix’s Marco Polo, but that
probably would not have worked for the Hallmark Channel, where it premiered.
Enjoyable at times for some nicely choreographed fights and its goofy
mysticism, Son of the Dragon is an
old fashioned, light-weight, inconsequential, occasionally groan-inducing time-filler,
now available on DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment.
Labels: David Carradine, DVD