Usually I get swamped with short horror films, gore-fests and Troma wannabe’s (don’t get me wrong, these are good things and I love stuff like that). Then out of nowhere, I received something a little different: A martial arts film that wasn’t a Godfrey Ho cut and paste movie or a Bruce-sploitation flick. So I got curious and checked out the trailer for a little short indy flick called Sins of the Dragon and let me tell you something… I was not expecting to see the awesomeness that I saw. (Editor’s note: I’m totally surprised to see that awesomeness is a word. That squiggly red line didn’t appear under it when I typed it)
Sins of the Dragon isn’t your straight forward martial arts flick. It’s also a fantasy film, so it doesn’t take place at any specific time in history or in the future. Hell, maybe not even this world. But where and when never come into question. Right from the get-go, they explain what you need to know: There are four separate territories and each is ruled by a dragon. Well, the dragon is actually a martial arts master that possesses superhuman abilities. So what do you think if, for example, someone decides they are going to kill the other dragons and gain their powers? They would rule the world, duh!
And it just so happens that someone is doing exactly that. He goes by the name Caligo and wears like this half Jason mask on the bottom half of his face. This is where the movie opens up at actually. We see Caligo fighting Master Sozen, who looks kinda like Raiden from Mortal Kombat (well, actually he is wearing the same hat, but to be honest, I forgot what those were called, so I knew you would be able to follow along if I made that reference). Caligo informs the Master Sozen, and the audience, that he has already killed two of the dragons and is about to make it three.
Once they’re done fighting, we’re introduced to the stories core characters, Cunri and Kaia. Cunri is broody, avoiding any conversation about his past and why he is on his journey, but his faithful friend Kaia follows along regardless, just for fun of the adventure. Along this adventure, they encounter countless ninjas, a gang of thieves and the two open up to one another. Cunri does finally open up to Kaia, since she is always asking him about his nightmares. Sins of the Dragon does actually build up their characters and makes sympathetic. Cunri lives with an almost uncontrollable rage, due to his village being slaughtered by Caligo during his quest to kill the other dragons. Thus, it orphaned Cunri, but as fate would have it, he is trained by Master Shaw and met Kaia. See, not all bad, right? Lose your family, gain awesome martial arts skills. Even Steven?
All of this boils down to the final showdown between Cunri and Caligo, after he and Kaia are attacked and exhausted by a group of ninjas. Cunri must use all of his skill to defeat the now almost invincible Caligo. But what of Kaia? What about her fate? Everything rests on this battle!
You’ve probably been seeing the phrase ‘martial arts’ a bit in this review and you must be wondering, “Is there actually any martial arts and is it any good?” To answer it simply: Yes. Oh lord, yes. Sins of the Dragon has more impressive fight choreography than any other big budget movie in the past few years. It’s actually very impressive.
The plot itself is also quite impressive. The characters have an anime vibe to them; Cunri being the brooding protagonist with his smart-arse she-sidekick as they encounter a group of buffoonish thieves; one who is the ‘brain’, one who gets lost in his own metaphors and the third is the silent type all on a quest to stop an evil villain. Sins of the Dragon definitely sets up a fantasy world and invites you in without overwhelming you with complicated mythos or an overabundance of unnecessary back story. It also has its share of special effects that are pretty decent considering the budget and type of film it is, but it’s not what it’s about and you won’t be paying any attention to it once they start roundhouse kicking everyone. It’s an easy film to sit down, watch and enjoy some major butt kicking!
Running in at just under half an hour, everything is well developed and fleshed out, you’ll feel like you watched an episode of some new anime and you want to see what happens next to these characters and you want to see where they go. In a short amount of time, you do feel attached to these characters and at times, you’ll wish there was a more fortunate path for them.
Sins of the Dragon shouldn’t be missed, whether you are looking for a martial arts film or something with some fantasy, it shows how far you can go with a little imagination. Now, run away to Platypus Underground’s website to watch it… before Caligo destroys you!