Review: Batman Soul of the Dragon (2021)

Renowned animation producer Bruce Timm takes the Dark Knight back to the 1970s for a supernatural-laden martial arts extravaganza in Batman: Soul Of The Dragon

PLOT AND STORY

Set in the midst of the swinging 1970s, this Elseworlds adventure finds Bruce Wayne training under a master sensei. It is here that Bruce, along with other elite students, is forged in the fire of the martial arts discipline. The lifelong bonds they form will be put to the test when a deadly menace arises from their past. It will take the combined efforts of Batman, world-renowned martial artists Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva, and their mentor O-Sensei to battle the monsters of this world and beyond! 

Jeremy Adams has created an action packed adventure just like he did with Mortal Kombat: Scorpions Revenge. I found the pace of this movie to be fantastic as it hits the ground running and doesn’t let up till the very last second. With a run time of only 83 minutes makes this a story you can engage with, enjoy and remain completely entertained without any unnecessary drawn out sections. A great story for a quick popcorn movie you can just pick up and put down quite easily for repeated viewings.

PRODUCTION AND DIRECTION

My favourite DC animation director returns in Sam Liu (Death of Superman, Justice League vs The Fatal Five) and he once again delivers a martial arts, high tempo, action packed movie. In my opinion DC and Warner Brother deliver the best comic book animation and Soul of the Dragon is another fine example of why. Realistic, well choreographed fight sequences set within a comic book world makes you feel every punch and kick.

Taking us back to the 1970’s in the style of a Bruce Lee movie everything about this will play straight into the hearts of people who enjoy movies like Way of the Dragon and Enter the Dragon. The sound effects, the music and the costumes all contribute to delivering the complete package. Sharp cutting between scenes contributes to the high tempo and helps the 83 minute run time really pop and as you never have a minute to breath and arrive at the finale much quicker than you expect.

CAST

The ensemble cast features a core group of actors playing martial arts students-turned-heroes in David Giuntoli (Grimm, A Million Little Things) as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Iron Chef America, Hawaii Five-0) as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu (Arrow, X2: X-Men United) as Lady Shiva and Michael Jai White (Spawn, reprising his role from Arrow) as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger. Their mentor O-Sensei is voiced by James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China, Blade Runner). Josh Keaton (Voltron: Legendary Defender; Green Lantern: The Animated Series) is featured as Jeffrey Burr, and additional voices are provided by veteran voiceover actors Grey Griffin, Chris Cox, Erica Luttrell, Robin Atkin Downes, Patrick Seitz, Jamie Chung and Eric Bauza.

FINAL THOUGHTS

A movie which flirts with multiple genres before finding its groove. It starts out as a spy movie with a very James Bond vibe before quickly shifting into a horror. Finally settling into a 1970s Kung Fu movie taking much inspiration from Bruce Lee movies. One thing Soul of the Dragon doesn’t feel like is a Batman movie and I am more than happy with that. Sam Liu and Jeremy Adams have crafted a different and unique Batman movie which gives fans a fresh, new entry for the Dark Knight. The way this movie ends makes me very hopeful for a sequel that thoroughly deserves.

The film is dedicated to legendary DC writer Dennis O’Neil, who co-created the characters Richard Dragon, O-Sensei, Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. O’Neil passed away on June 11, 2020.

Batman: Soul of the Dragon is available digitally on demand now and its physical release will become available from 15th February 2021.

I watched this via Sky Store and received no incentive to review this movie.

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