28 October 2015 | The_Phantom_Projectionist
"I'll answer more questions after we rest and have sex"
After making his acting debut in RING OF STEEL – one of the best films about weapons-fighting I have ever seen – swordsman Robert Chapin followed it up with this little independent disaster. DRAGON FURY is an ambitious outing that partially recycles the premise of THE TERMINATOR with swords in place of robots, without a hint of a substantial budget. Though it bears the Troma label, this is likely a third-party acquisition because despite its hokeyness, it lacks the inspired cult spirit of the likes of THE TOXIC AVENGER. Not to spoil the rest of the review, but this movie isn't very good.
The story: A warrior from a dystopian future (Chapin) and his cohort (Chona Jason) travel back in time to 1999 and attempt to recover the cure for a devastating disease while being hunted by the minions of an evil overlord (Richard Lynch).
From the opening shots of a mass slaughter taking place on a flimsy outdoor set, the viewer knows s/he's in for the amateur experience. Things improve a little when the characters travel through time and have the public property of Los Angeles to elevate the production standard, but the single-camera cinematography and restrictive indoor locations never let you forget what kind of a movie you're watching. The tone of this college-level production is inconsistent and inharmonious: for the most part, the performers are trying to tell a semi-serious action yarn, but aside from moments of massive overacting, there are instances where it seems like a rogue goofball took over the production with intentionally bad comedic scenes and silly inserts (e.g. goofy voiceovers when characters are stabbed). I don't know what to make of this, other than be unimpressed.
Though Richard Lynch gets top billing, the real villain of the piece is T.J. Storm, given his presence and the fact that his genuine athletic ability is one of the few highlights of the film. Though the fight scenes that he contributes to are plagued by occasionally silly choreography and vague repetitiveness, Storm and Chapin and a handful of martial costars are fun to watch and their smooth sword-fighting is a welcome change from kickboxing. The fights are virtually the only reason one would want to watch this movie, other than for laughs, but even I can't get maximum enjoyment out of the ten or so duels due to the underutilization of Chona Jason and the absolutely embarrassing finale between Chapin and Lynch.
DRAGON FURY has enough spirit and enthusiasm to save it from a lower rating, but it's still a cheap movie that can hardly afford its own special effects and features some blatant goofs (get a load of T.J. Storm's white stunt double). I don't think it's funny enough to achieve cult status, rendering it as little more than a cheap action movie that made questionable choices of how to maximize its resources. Let it be.