Batman: Soul of the Dragon

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 1/26/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD;
Rated ‘R’ for some violence.
Voices of David Giuntoli, Mark Dacascos, Kelly Hu, Michael Jai White, James Hong, Josh Keaton.

The latest DC Comics animated movie offers a rollicking throwback to the action movies of the 1970s, with a touch of James Bond for good measure, and a supernatural storyline that harkens back to Bruce Wayne’s training before he became Batman.

While it’s billed as a Batman movie, Soul of the Dragon puts less of a focus on the Dark Knight and puts him among an ensemble of DC action stars, primarily Richard Dragon (voiced by Mark Dacascos), a secret agent who seems to have been deliberately drawn to resemble Bruce Lee.

Dragon uncovers a plot by a cult called Kobra to open a portal to a demon dimension. To do so, they have acquired a mysterious doorway once possessed by Dragon’s old mentor, O Sensei (James Hong), who sacrificed himself years earlier to keep it sealed.

To aid him in stopping Kobra, Dragon recruits other students he trained with, including Bruce Wayne (David Gluntoli), Shiva (Kelly Hu) and Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White, who previously played a live-action version of the character on “Arrow.”)

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The movie weaves in some of the more bizarre characters from DC Comics and serves as a nice reminder of how wacky Batman comics from the 1970s could get. The core cast brings some nice chemistry to the proceedings and their mission results in some entertaining, if bloody, cartoon violence that should leave comic book movie fans satisfied.

The only real drawback might be an animation style that seems a bit stilted and modern for the subject matter.

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The Blu-ray includes a great half-hour featurette called “Batman: Raw Groove” — a retrospective about the pop culture of the 1970s that inspired Soul of the Dragon, particularly kung fu and blacksploitation movies.

The making of the film is covered more in the 18-minute “Producer Jim Krieg’s Far-Out Highlights,” which offers several filmmaker interviews, with special emphasis on Krieg, who is known for appearing in costumes appropriate to the movie he is promoting.

Rounding out the Blu-ray package are a pair of “Batman: The Animated Series” episodes — “Day of the Samurai” and “Night of the Ninja” — plus several previews for other DC Universe animated movies, including an eight-minute preview of the upcoming Justice Society: World War II.

In the 4K combo pack, all the extras are on the standard Blu-ray Disc. The 4K disc contains just the movie and its spectacular color palette.

Animated Movie ‘Batman: Soul of the Dragon’ Arriving on Blu-ray and Digital in January

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the animated movie Batman: Soul of the Dragon through digital sellthrough Jan. 12, and on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Jan. 26.

The Elseworlds tale is set in the 1970s and finds Bruce Wayne in martial arts training alongside other students under a master sensei must confront a deadly menace. Batman, joins forces with Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva, and their mentor O-Sensei, to battle the monsters of this world and beyond.

The primary voice cast includes David Giuntoli as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu as Lady Shiva, James Hong as O-Sensei, and Michael Jai White as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger, reprising his live-action role from “Arrow.” The cast also includes Josh Keaton, Grey Griffin, Chris Cox, Erica Luttrell, Robin Atkin Downes, Patrick Seitz, Jamie Chung and Eric Bauza.

The 41st entry in the DC Universe series of animated superhero movies, Batman: Soul of the Dragon is rated ‘R’ for some violence. The film is produced by animation veteran Bruce Timm and is dedicated to longtime DC writer Dennis O’Neil, who co-created the characters Richard Dragon, O-Sensei, Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. O’Neil passed away June 11, 2020.

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The Blu-ray combo pack will include the film on a high-definition disc and a digital copy. The 4K combo pack includes the film on 4K with HDR and regular Blu-ray discs, and a digital copy.

Extras include:

  • “Batman: Raw Groove” — a featurette that looks at how martial arts cinema of the 1970s influenced Batman: Soul of the Dragon.
  • “Producer Jim Krieg’s Far Out Highlights” — a supercut of one of Krieg’s funniest in-character appearances.
  • A sneak peek at the next DC Universe movie, Justice Society: World War II, plus featurettes about earlier Elseworlds movies Superman: Red Son and Batman: Gotham By Gaslight.
  • From the DC Vault: “Batman: The Animated Series” episodes “Day of the Samurai” and “Night of the Ninja.”

 

‘One Night in Bangkok’ Due on DVD and Digital Aug. 25 From Lionsgate

Lionsgate will release the action-thriller One Night in Bangkok on DVD, VOD and digital sellthrough Aug. 25.

The film stars martial arts actor Mark Dacascos as a hitman named Kai who flies into Bangkok, gets a gun and orders a cab. He offers a professional female driver big money to be his all-night driver, but when she realizes Kai is committing brutal murders at each stop, it’s too late to walk away. Meanwhile, an offbeat police detective (Kane Kosugi) races to decode the string of slayings before more blood is spilled.

An homage to Collateral, One Night in Bangkok was directed by action filmmaker Wych Kaosayananda (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, The Driver, Dead Earth).

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