Bridge of Dragons (1999)
By: Devon B. on August 11, 2013 | Comments
HBO Home Video | Region 1, NTSC | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 91 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Isaac Florentine
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Rachel Shane, Gary Hudson, Scott Schwartz
Screenplay: Carlton Holder
Country: USA
External Links
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Bridge of Dragons is set, according to a title card, "Someplace, where the future meets the past." The location does seem to be a cross between the old world and a more modern one, but it's not quite modern times because the vehicles look like they're from several decades back. So it's not really the future meeting the past, but more like the recent past meeting the distant past. I'm guessing the movie takes place in Belgium, then.

In the movie the Belgian king has died, but his daughter is too young to rule. This break in the commanding chain allows a general to seize power, and the princess becomes unwillingly betrothed to the general. Dolph Lundgren is a member of the general's military named Warchild. Yes, Warchild. Dolph is really good at killing rebel scum and is a most trusted soldier, so when the princess escapes before the wedding, Dolph is sent to retrieve her. The general hasn't seen Red Scorpion so isn't concerned about creating a situation where Dolph's allegiance can be swayed, but astute viewers will realise that the general probably should've done some more research before letting Dolph loose.

Bridge of Dragons is one of my favourite Dolph's, right up there with Showdown in Little Tokyo, which it's kind of connected to because it has the same bad guy, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. I'm not sure if Bridge of Dragons is tongue in cheek or just made by idiots, but Dolph clearly knows it's a very silly film. Some of the supporting cast, and even the female lead, give bad performances, but part of the blame for that may go to the shitty dialogue they've been given. Dolph doesn't struggle as much and plays his role mostly straight, but that does nothing to diminish the cartoonish vibe of the film. The movie has a fairytale feel to it, so it's sort of like The Princess Bride but with helicopters and cars and military vehicles. The military vehicles often have prominent 666 markings and the princess is named Halo, so the only way it could be a more simplistic good versus evil yarn would be if it was an actual Bible story. Bridge of Dragons' plot is so unsophisticated it could belong to a children's movie if it weren't prone to shoot outs, martial arts and blowing shit up real good, so it's like a children's movie for mature grownups like me.

Along with the blow shit up real good moments there are some decent fights, with better choreography than would be expected in a film like this. Dolph is my favourite action star, but if his marital arts ability isn't displayed right he can look a bit awkward, probably due to his size, but in Bridge of Dragons he gets the opportunity to showcase his skills pretty well while kicking people upside the head. In fact, aside from some slow motion that almost recalls Sammo Hung in its unnecessariness, the overall action direction is far more competent than I anticipated. This blending of well made action scenes with the inane story just makes the movie even more bewildering. I guess there are a lot of action films that exist solely for their high octane scenes, but even after taking that into account Bridge of Dragons is in a league of its own, because the juxtaposition of the children's movie and action flick sets it well apart from those movies that couldn't be bothered writing a script around the explosions and gunplay. I guess the closest comparison would be one of those godawful Arnold Schwarzenegger family comedies, but if instead of dressing up like a flying Power Ranger he started recreating scenes from Raw Deal.

The original treatment for Bridge of Dragons doesn't seem as wacky as the finished film, so thankfully the film went through a few re-writes before it got made. It's not Dolph's most subtle or refined work, but it's definitely his most ridiculous, which is why I love it.
The Disc
The film is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The movie didn't get theatrically released in many countries, but was evidently shot for a 1.85:1 ratio, however I haven't been able to locate a home video release in the original theatrical ratio. On this DVD the print has some spots, some minor edge enhancement and an occasional bit of motion blur, but it looked a lot better and sharper than I figured it would since this is an older DVD release. Audio is available in English or Spanish 2.0 mixes, but the Spanish track is significantly quieter. The English track provides some loud and enjoyable sounds, with noisy gunfire and explosions, and some nice deep thuds when impacts are made. It's over the top fun like the film itself. In one amazing moment of sound design, Dolph's eyeballs make a whishing sound when he looks up quickly! The extras are just cast bios and filmographies and a fimography for the director.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
This is one of those rare films where I wouldn't want to change a single frame, where every flaw is not just forgotten but enhances the movie's greatness. The DVD is a dreary release, but I picked it up for about $5, so I guess I got what I paid for. There is a German Blu-ray under the title Fight of the Dragon, but that's 1080i and still full frame, so I'm waiting for some awesome company to unleash the Dragon in all its widescreen glory. Hint, hint.
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