I love cheesy B movies. I always have and I always will. It’s because of this that I love the movies of The Asylum, their filmmakers are the new Roger Cormans. In this series, I will take a look at all of their so-called “mockbusters”, and compare them to their theatrical counterparts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
This week, in the long-awaited return of this column, we’re taking a look at Dragon, Leigh Scott’s 2006 fantasy epic that was released just two days before the similarly-spelled Eragon. I’m going to say this right now and get it out of the way: I loved this movie. So much. Was the acting or the dialog good? Not particularly, but that’s a huge part of why it was amazing in almost every way. Watching this movie was like watching a game of Dungeons & Dragons – like if you could see the adventure the players sitting around the table are describing, this would be exactly it. Characters have long exposition-heavy speeches that sound like they came from the mouth of DM. There’s a scene where one of the male characters hits on one of the female characters and gets shot down; it feels dead-on to that guy everyone knows who’s always rolling to sleep with other characters. The names of places and monsters clearly came out of a D&D manual.
I love this movie.
The film starts with sweeping epic stock footage of mountains and forests. It looks surprisingly good, actually, much better than the usual stock footage that opens Asylum movies. And it gives it a nice Lord of the Rings feel. Of course that doesn’t survive into the actual film, which looks like it was shot in the woods behind someone’s house. While journeying through the Forest of Sidhe (pronounced “scythe”), Princess Alora (Amelia Jackson Gray, of Snakes on a Train) is attacked by Dark Elves. They’re super-evil and have been at war with the humans, especially her father’s kingdom, for years. This is why she’s in the forest in the first place; she’s going to Bagnor Brim to seek the aid of Lord Blackthorne, in the hope that he can help turn the tide in the war.
Luckily, the princess there are two soldiers around to rescue her from the attack. The pair, Lord Artemir (Jon Paul Gates, of nothing you’ve ever seen) and Cador Bain (Matt Wolf, of Transmorphers and the voice of Thor in Marvel’s DTV animation), insist on accompanying her and keeping her safe on her journey. They try to warn her about the dragon, and she’s all “Oh, the Fire Drake? I saw that fucker before you two assholes showed up. It was just chilling when the Dark Elves weren’t moving, but the second I started to run he went fucking crazy!” …or something like that. She had a British accent, but not a chavy one. So I guess nothing like that.
They give her a new outfit, which is basically a Rule 63 Dread Pirate Roberts costume, and set out walking until they get to a part of the forest that you can tell is supposed to be extra-spooky because A) it’s desaturated and 2) the characters say it is. Princess Alora says she’s seen this place in her dreams. Lord Artemir warns they should not speak above a whisper. It’s all very foreboding. Also, Cador Bain says they don’t have time to “footle” which is my new favorite word ever.
As they’re tip-toeing through blue-filtered tulips, they’re attacked by a trio of rogues made up of Sogomo (Jason DeParis, of Supercroc), because even fantasy worlds have douchebros; Naga (Rachel Haines, of nothing you’ve seen), who’s got the exact same look as every punk girl that’s ever gone to a ren faire; and their leader Gareth Morholt (Jeff Denton, of Exorcism: Possession of Gail Bowers and Pirates of Treasure Island) aka Medieval Gambit. After a brief fight, the verbal abuse begins with the gang assuming that our band of adventurers isn’t capable of making it safely through the forest. Then the sexual harassment of the princess starts up. Medieval Gambit proposes that they’ll help protect Alora, but only in exchange for land and title… or, you know, some other method of payment. Seriously, he’s totally Medieval Gambit. They claim they can help because of that time they killed the Kensington Basilisk, and when they ask if the princess has heard of them she gives the best “Um, no…” face since Han asked Obi-wan if he’d heard of the Millennium Falcon.
Throughout all of this everyone seems to have forgotten the whole thing about not speaking above a whisper, but the say “footle” a lot more in the argument so I’ll let it slide because just thinking about that word makes me happy.
For some reason, despite 2/3 of these sketchy fucks hinting at raping the princess, she decides to let them join up and they all head off. Medieval Gambit keeps arguing that there’s no way Lord Blackthorne’s going to go for their plan. He’s not going to help Alora’s kingdom, hell, he’s probably made a treaty with the elves, that prick. But who cares about that because suddenly Alora has a vision. She sees a mage in the woods and everyone is understandably freaked out, because A) there are rumors of a Dark Mage that inhabits the forest and controls the dragon and 2) she’s never had a vision before so this is weird, you know?
Once they get over their heebie jeebies whispering suddenly becomes very important again, and god know why since Lord Artemir and and Medieval Gambit have been argue-flirting the whole damn time. Get a castle already, you too. They’re still not whispering when the group comes across an archer in the woods, and for some reason they decide to sneak up and kill her. What the hell is wrong with these people?
When they attack the archer, she fights back and gets back-up from the mage in Alora’s vision. She casts a few hilarious magic missiles that look like they were added in After Effects. After handing the team their asses the mage explains that she’s the Necromancer Freyja (Eliza Swenson, of King of the Lost World, Transmorphers and something called, oh my god, The Penny Dreadful Picture Show) and the archer is Damara, Last of the Fey (Jessica Bork, also of Transmorphers). Medieval Gambit and Lord Artemir try to talk, but Freyja shuts that shit down right quick by telling Princess Alora how much she fucking hates her friends while they’re standing there slackjawed. Awesome. And of course Freyja can see into the future, which is both a gift and a curse (DRINK!), so she knows some of y’all ain’t coming back. Your plan sucks and that dragon will fuck you up.
At this point the Mage and the Archer join the party. They’re only missing, what, a Bard now, right?
Freja and Alora go off alone to talk and there is a ton of exposition. Holy shit! Freyja knew the king. He asked her to make the dragon to (at best) scare the Dark Elves into leaving them alone like a nuke or (at worst) commit an elf genocide. Now it just roams the forest and doesn’t kill the elves unless it feels like it, because fuck you, you’re not my dad!
Cut to: Artemir and Medieval Gambit talking about how far Cador’s crush is out of his league. Medieval Gambit pulls out some philosophizing he heard from a bard he robbed once. Is that close enough to having one in the movie?
Cut to: Cador heads over to Alora so the pair can flirt without actually flirting. It is so awkward and creepy and a little sad.
Cut to: Naga and Sogomo talking about the land they’re going to get when this is all over. She doesn’t trust Medieval Gambit as far as she can throw him and knows he’s going screw them over. Sogomo makes a pass at her, but she wouldn’t fuck him with her worst enemy’s snatch.
There’s a lot going on in that scene. Thankfully it ends when they’re attacked by some Dark Elves, who can now turn invsible. Where’d that new power come from? At any rate, it’s kind of pointless since Freyja gives everyone her sight so they can see them and fight. It’s actually a pretty decent little skirmish, except for the guy who just disappears when Cador goes to decapitate him.
Medieval Gambit has a plan for how to kill the dragon. He knows all about them, from the time they killed that basilisk, remember? Alora’s thinking she made the right call bringing this douche along until he reminds everyone that he couldn’t care less at all about any of this and is only it in for the land she promised. And Alora’s impressed face turns into an “oh, fuck you” face in about a half a second.
Medieval Gambit starts getting in some really good burns on Cador Bain about his crush before making some much less funny jokes about his plans for Alora (who, I remind you, is the princess). He argues with everyone about whether they should even fight the dragon, gets pissy and storms off.
Everyone’s way happier without that idiot around, and Artemir’s talking about how it’s his destiny to kill the dragon. He says it in this “Well, if I have to, I guess I will. Destiny and all.” kind of way. Freyja looks him dead in the eyes and says a fancier version of “Fuck you and your humblebrag. You ain’t killing shit today.” And I laugh so hard I miss the next few lines of dialog.
It’s now Freyja’s turn to have a vision. She sees Cador dying and Alora being all sad about it. When she wakes up she tells Damara about it and decides to change the future. Damara’s not too keen on the idea since once you change the future at all (even a little), the whole future becomes unknowable.
A little bit of back-story gets dragged out of Naga and Sogomo, specifically that they didn’t kill the basilisk. What?!? They found it when it was already dead and claimed the reward. I can only assume it was in the catacombs under a school bathroom with a sword through its head and it’s eyes pecked out.
At 59 minutes into film the dragon appears and before they fight it Naga’s corset disappears.
The dragon flies off after eating Sogomo, who got pinned under a small branch early in the fight, and Naga fucking breaks – shaking, ugly crying, the works. She did have the wherewithall to put her corset back on though.
Artemir’s drawing up plans to go after the dragon and Naga does her best Bill Paxton-in-Aliens impression.
He just rolls his eyes and walks away from her to talk to Cador Bain.
“Stay here while we go fight.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“What if we fail, who will tell the king?”
“Pssh, we won’t fail”
“yeeeeaaaa… I don’t know about that”
Meanwhile, Freyja gives Alora a gift.
“Here, have this stick.”
”Are you dumb? I’m your mom, and you’re the dragon’s sister. So you have to be the one to kill it.”
Which is weird as hell and still doesn’t quite explain the stick. She also says “You have its strengths, but not its weaknesses.” Does that mean Alora can fly and breath fire? If so, why hasn’t she been doing that all along? Are they saving that for the sequel?
Artemir starts bossing around the princess and demands Cador be knighted, which of course she does. Because everyone levels up before the big battle.
Just as they get to the dragon they fight even more Dark Elves, this time not invisible. Naga take an arrow to the
knee gut and Alora’s stick turns into a spear. Huh, so that’s what it does.
Oh, crap! It’s the vision! Only instead of dying, Cador gets knocked down (but he gets up again, you’re never gonna keep him down). This time it’s Artemir who’s toast, but there’s no sad Alora in this version because fuck him.
Hey, Medieval Gambit’s back! And he contributes absolutely nothing in any way at all to the fight. Right after he shows up Alora stabs the dragon with the spear and does a weird Prometheus run as it falls. Freyja collapses and explains that now that the dragon is dead, she’ll die too.
Of course more goddamn Dark Elves show up, right? Medieval Gambit talks a big game about how he’s prepared to die and “the only question is how many to take with us?” Which, while being kind of cliché, is pretty bad ass for a guy who’s been making veiled rape threats all movie. But no one has to die today because Alora lifts up her spear like She-Ra and the elves all lay down their weapons and kneel. Then it lights up. Wouldn’t it make more sense to light up before the kneeling? Cador, for some reason, decides now is the right time to run over and kiss her. But he does it like she’s the macho hero and he’s the love interest, so it’s pretty great, actually.
Medieval Gambit goes to the dying Naga and she asks if it’s dead. “We finally killed a dragon,” is his actual reply. Son of a bitch, neither of you two did a goddamn thing. She dies. Alora goes to Freyja and tries to convince her not to die (because, you know, that’s how CPR works), saying things like “Don’t go, you can’t go.” Freyja gives her the oldest platitude ever, “I am in you.” She dies.
…and that’s the end of the actual movie. There’s a voice-over epilogue that explains how Freyja and Artemir got to move on to the next realm, but nothing about Naga. So I guess she’s still wandering the Earth to this day as a restless spirit. The Forest of Sidhe is longer cursed and the Dark Elves got their souls back. I’m not sure I remember them saying they didn’t have souls before though. At some point during the movie the king died so Alora’s now the queen and she’s awesome at it. But there would be more adventures and that this group would be there to face them.
There was no sequel.
This breaks my heart.
Stuff To Look Out For
This is probably the earliest chronological Blackthorn reference we’ll see, so is this where Balckthorn Industries got its start?
They said “milady” so much I kind of expected Cador to get friendzoned at the end.
According to the credits, “No dragons were harmed during the making of this motion picture.”
Eliza Swenson, the actress who played Freyja, not only co-wrote the film with Asylum mainstay Leigh Scott, she also wrote the score.
How does it compare?
Dragon was better in almost every way than its theatrical counterpart Eragon. Eragon was merely a medievel remake of Star Wars, but with dragons. It was awful. John Malkovich should be ashamed of himself for his small role. If you’re considering ever watching it, don’t. Watch Star Wars instead, or if you’re in the mood for cool dragon-riding stuff, watch How to Train Your Dragon. The only thing Eragon had over Dragon was slightly better special effects. The writing and acting were equally bad, if not better in Dragon. And The Asylum succeeded in making a movie that was an infinitely more fun.
Next Time: The Hitchhiker