Dear Readers, Batman: Soul of the Dragon has the distinction in not only being the 40th movie in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line ( try saying that fast) but it is also an original movie not based on any comic.
It’s also a strange beast of a film. It starts as you may expect a James Bond film too. There is a spy taking on the character of a waiter all to steal the fingerprints of a big-bad villain, so the spy can then break into the said villain’s super sleek apartment (including very cool hidden safe) and sneak a look at some super secret data, only to find…something he didn’t expect to see.. something that shocks him. Of course at this very moment the villain’s henchmen burst through the door and as you would expect, this quickly escalates into a massive cartoon fight. Which explodes in front of our eyes and I mean explodes. This is a film that doesn’t shy away from an overblown set piece. It’s as if the director Sam Liu aided by executive director Bruce Timm looked back over every fight scene and asked themselves ”it’s good but, what can we make explode?”. As it turns out you can make a lot of things explode, if you just try hard enough and try hard they did I watched in ore as hotel rooms explode, cars explode and buildings explode. It’s as if everything in Gotham is made with a small amount of TNT entwined into it’s DNA just waiting for the right moment to explode into life. Then after a dramatic escape for our hero which includes both a parachute and a speed boat. Then films then cuts to a very James Bond style opening and I settle down to what I expected to be a very silly take on a James Bond movie.
Of course this is where the movie has other ideas. It now changes tack, As the film’s opening credits end. This is where the film shows it’s hand. The film isn’t set in the normal Batman years of somewhere in the 40’s. This film is set in the 70’s. The 70’s we know. The 70’s of disco, big shoes and even bigger hair. The 70’s of Kung Fuu movies and this is where the film throws us a curve ball. No longer is it simply a cliched Bond, This is now a 70’s Kung Fu movie with liberal inspiration taken from Enter the Dragon and other Kung Fu classics.
where thrown back to our friendly spy. who is now on a mission. A mission to get the gang back together, a gang that met and were trained at that most 70’s of Kung Fu movie clichés the mountain hideaway, the Shangri-La hidden deep in the alps one that can only be found by the most dedicated and driven of fighters. Six are currently being trained and are a six that just so happens to include; Lady Shiva, Bronze Tiger and of course a Batman. A Batman that is not yet at the peak of his powers a Batman still learning his trade. Still wanting to find a way to cure all of the worlds ills. It’s without saying that our spy manages to bring the team back (but not without a couple of brilliant fight scenes) and somehow manages to loose the most important thing in the entire movie. The very weapon that will release the evil snake God from his eternal prison.
And so our band of merry warriors must venture forward on their quest to save the World from this evil God. A God that has, through their minions managed to create an entire cult around it’s self. A cult that seems to train its followers in Kung Fu as much as it does in the art of their religion. For when our heros descend on the secret Island intent on saving the world, they have too in wonderful Kung Fu tradition defeat which seems to be an absolute army of the green clad warriors before the final showdown with the end of movie boss. Or should I say our heroes ex-mentor as the demon has taken over his form, after he sacrificed himself some years before in order to save the world. After what is a fantastic fight, with excellent scenes, with broken bones and blood filling the screen, including Batman doing what feels like a cruel finishing move with his cape, we come to victory and entry to the Demons own territory where the movie cuts and finishes.
It’s safe to say I enjoyed this movie. It is very tongue in check. Very violent, but somehow gets away it all with a rough kind of charm.