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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Bridge of Dragons (1999)

December 2, 2014 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #334: Bridge of Dragons (1999)

It’s a Dolph Lundgren December: Week 1

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that doesn’t know anyone who thinks that “ham burps” are sexy, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and thirty-four, It’s a Dolph Lundgren December begins with Bridge of Dragons, which came out in 1999 and was directed by the Isaac Florentine.

This issue’s second feature was supposed to be Mercenaries starring Zoe Bell, but due to a general lack of time I was unable to watch it for this week. Be on the lookout for it, though, as it may show up later this month. Thanks for the understanding.

Bridge of Dragons (1999)

BridgeOfDragons

Bridge of Dragons is the kind of low budget, high concept action movie that, had it not starred Dolph Lundgren and instead starred someone like Stephen Dorff or Lucas Black, would probably be considered a modern cult masterpiece that real movie fans love and understand. However, because it stars Lundgren it doesn’t have much of a following outside of the low budget action movie world that generally digs Dolph Lundgren movies. That’s a shame because Bridge of Dragons is a very cool mash-up of fantasy/sort of fairy tale and modern action flick.

Taking place in a time “where the future meets the past,” Lundgren stars as Warchild, a badass warrior who is loyal to General Ruechang (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a ruthless killer who is set to marry Princess Halo (Valerie Chow, listed as Rachel Shane). The Princess is the last remaining vestige of the dead king who used to rule the great city and the General, by marrying the Princess, hopes to eventually become king. Princess Halo doesn’t want anything to do with the General as she suspects that he killed the king and she doesn’t want to see her city and her people ruled by Ruechang. However, she doesn’t know how to get away from the General. He has a vast army that’s loyal to him and the great city’s residents are too afraid to stand up to Ruechang. How the heck is she going to get out of this?

After learning that the General did indeed kill her father, Princess Halo concocts a scheme to make everyone think she’s sick and that the marriage ceremony will have to wait. So the Princess makes herself sick and gets the official ceremony postponed. Ruechang isn’t pleased with the delay but if the Princess is sick and can’t go through the official ceremony then he’ll just have to wait. While “resting,” the Princess escapes the city via horseback and heads into the forest. She hopes that she’ll be able to find the leader of the rebellion against Ruechang and rally them to help her eliminate the General from the city. Will that scheme work? She has no idea who is in charge of the rebellion or how big the rebellion actually is, but she figures that it’s her only real chance at getting rid of Ruechang. They don’t like Ruechang. She doesn’t like Ruechang. What could go wrong?

As the Princess looks for the leader of the rebellion, Ruechang sends Warchild into the forest to find her and bring her back to the city. The General knows that he can trust Warchild as the killer is his protégé and that he won’t come back without his future bride. It doesn’t take long for Warchild to find the Princess, but bringing her back to the city is no easy task. There are marauders and bad guys all over the forest, and the Princess has no intention of following the warrior back to the city anyway. She doesn’t want to go back to the evil that is Ruechang. She has no choice, though. She has to go back. It’s what Ruechang wants and Warchild intends to bring her back.

Now, at this point in the movie we know that Warchild, while devoted to the general, is conflicted about the Princess. He doesn’t want to do anything to disappoint his leader but he also respects and even sort of loves the Princess. She’s beautiful and she knows how to fight (the Princess likes to don a mask and battle against fighters in an elaborate tree stump area where the fighters stand on the stumps and slam each other with staffs). She’s the perfect woman. So some stuff happens, the Princess tries to convince Warchild not to bring her back to the General, Warchild tells her she has to go, and Warchild brings the Princess back to the General. That should be the end of that. But then the General does something so heinous that Warchild decides that he’s fighting for the wrong side. What does the General do?

He slaps the Princess. In front of Warchild. You don’t do that in front of a man who is all about honor and whatnot. You just don’t. So Warchild turns on Ruechang, kicks the man dead in the face, and runs off with the Princess to find the Rebellion and formulate a plan to take down the General.

Warchild’s sudden change of heart regarding Ruechang is probably a little too sudden. You would think it would take a little more than slapping a woman in the face to get a loyal warrior to turn on his master (he never saw the General do that before? I find that hard to believe). But then Warchild’s allegiance to Ruechang is something that Warchild talks about and claims to be important. We never actually see Ruechang mentoring Warchild or anything like that. So maybe that’s the justification for Warchild’s sudden change. Warchild does give a pretty cynical speech about the nature of power and what people have to do to survive. Perhaps the Ruechang/Warchild partnership was never all that close to begin with. Something to think about.

The overall look of the world is pretty dang weird at first. The world we’re watching is a mashup of a sort of medieval village and Nazis (Ruechang’s soldiers look like Nazi storm troopers) with a smattering of modern technology like machine guns and attack helicopters. The cars and jeeps are all World War II style and the formal dress is 20th century British royalty. And Tagawa’s Ruechang has the look of a cliché dictator with an ornate uniform adorned with medals and an intricately decorated sword. It’s an amazing way to set up the world that the characters live in. I do wish, though, we got to see more of the royal family’s history. And why doesn’t the city/kingdom have a name? Are there rival kingdoms out there? How far out does Princess Halo’s realm go?

And what, exactly, is the Rebellion trying to achieve beyond overthrowing Ruechang? When did the Rebellion decide to become the Rebellion?

Oh, and why is the movie called Bridge of Dragons? There’s no bridge in the story nor are there any dragons. What the hell does the title mean?

The flick’s action scenes are well handled and, at times, kind of brilliant. There are multiple instances of loud kung fu movie sound effects during the hand-to-hand scenes, something you rarely see outside of straight up kung fu movies. The gun battles are wonderfully over the top, with people leaping into the air after damn near every explosion and endless machine gun exchanges. It’s also great to see multiple man-on-fire scenes (you usually only get one in a movie like this). The attack helicopters aren’t all that menacing at first, but when you see the guns the Rebellion uses against the chopper you see why the bulky, slow moving flying machine is, in context, so terrifying.

The performances are all excellent. Lundgren does a great job as Warchild. He gives the killing machine a humanity that you don’t expect to see in a character named “Warchild,” and it’s a fine example of how Lundgren can do more than be the hulking action hero. He also has decent chemistry with Chow, although the sexual chemistry they allegedly have comes off as forced. It would have been more believable if Warchild had simply teamed up with Princess Halo because she was in trouble and Ruechang was evil.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is superb as General Ruechang. He just oozes supreme evil and shows just how good of an actor he really is (he stares into the camera and it will give you the chills). You also don’t want to mess with him unless you’re as good of a martial artist as Dolph Lundgren because, well, if you’re not as good you’re just going to lose. Ruechang has a sword, too, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that, either.

Valerie Chow does a fine job as the Princess. She’s smart, resourceful, can clearly handle herself, and is fun to look at. I am a little surprised, though, that she never challenged the General to a fight. She probably could have taken him (who cares if it’s not lady like? I know I don’t). I would like to know why she tied up her maid twice. Why did she tie up the poor woman at all? What the hell was she going to do?

And then there’s Gary Hudson, who plays the conflicted Emmerich. He’s Warchild’s best buddy and loyal to Ruechang; he likes to fight and isn’t all that interested in politics or government. I think you’ll be surprised at his final choice as I didn’t see it coming. Hudson is, as usual, outstanding. Why doesn’t he do more modern action stuff?

Bridge of Dragons is a damn good action flick. It’s just begging for some sort of sequel. But then it’s just a Dolph Lundgren movie. No one will take it seriously.

You can’t think like that. Bridge of Dragons is awesome. You need to see it. You really do.

See Bridge of Dragons. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 30.

Explosions: Multiple, big and small, and they’re all awesome.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: Piles of dead bodies, a burning truck, a big shootout, exploding tent with flying inhabitant, guy falling out of a tower, exploding truck, multiple RPG attacks, exploding jeep, exploding barrels, a wicked kick to the balls, a ridiculously one-sided karate fight, side throat slitting, underground stick fights, face slapping, rampant abuse, a wedding, attempted forest robbery, a hidden knife, gut stabbing a serious beat down, a waterlogged wedding dress, a walking montage, jumping and firing in slow motion, grenade attack with nifty man-on-fire gag, handcuffs, more face slapping, a big ass roundhouse kick to the face, lots of slow motion fighting, attempted chopper flying, a helicopter chase, exploding helicopter, horse riding, exploding trees, a full on rebel massacre, exploding man with backflip in slow motion, grenade tossing, multiple instances of bondage, running in slow motion, knife throwing, ass kicking, balcony jumping, jeep roll over with flaming tire, wrist smashing, a sword fight vs. lead pipe battle, a dripping fuel truck, more throat slitting, a kick into oblivion, exploding truck, and an abrupt ending.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Dolph Lundgren, Dolph Lundgren cleaning binoculars, Dolph Lundgren looking through binoculars, Gary Hudson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, attack helicopters with “666” on them, side throat slitting, a British maid, a Scottish guy, pig shit, wine drinking, a walking montage, a Ruger, Dolph Lundgren running and jumping and firing in slow motion, multiple instances of slow motion fighting, an old necklace that will allegedly brig good luck, shredded wood, a fly on the Princess’ dress, multiple instances of bondage, and Gary Hudson drinking booze from a flask.

Best lines: “All I have to do is follow the bodies in order to find you,” “Perfect wedding gift,” “A woman like you can soften a man,” “Nice fight,” “No, I don’t want to hear any more talk about duty,” “You can’t marry him!,” “The wedding is in a week. Bring me back my bride,” “I’m Princess Halo,” “Who is that? That’s Warchild!,” “Tell Ruechang what I said!,” “You fought well in the mud pit,” “I wasn’t looking for honor, I was looking to win,” “Call a chopper,” “All men are killers. He simply made me a good one,” “I don’t want to hurt you! Go away!,” “Hey, I know this one! That’s Warchild!,” “Welcome to the revolution!,” “Well, it looks like you’ll live another day,” “There’s only one problem with that. You can’t kill Ruechang. But I can,” “I gave you a life! And now I’ll take it away!,” “Walk away. Walk away. Don’t make me come after you myself,” “You’re so full of shit, Warchild!,” “From this distance I’d say the scope is unnecessary,” and “You want to die for a butcher?”

Rating: 9.0/10.0

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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!

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Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There’s not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey (this really is going to happen at some point). And it would be cool if you “liked” it, too.

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!

And please check out my interview with director Brett A. Hart about the Ain’t It Cool internet show and more!

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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1

DawnOfThePlanetOfTheApes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: This tremendous sequel to the brilliant Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the best movies of the 2014 summer movie season and, quite possibly, one of the best movies of 2014 period. Andy Serkis ups his game as Caesar, and Toby Kebbell rocks as the villainous ape Koba. The humans in the movie are not bad, either (Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Kirk “Charlie” Acevedo). The sequences where the apes, armed to the teeth with machine guns, ride through dense smoke on horses will thrill you and terrify you. I mean, imagine seeing that happen in real life. Great flick through and through and I, personally, can’t wait for the third movie.

GutshotStraight

Gutshot Straight: This is apparently some sort of low budget ensemble crime movie about a scumbag gambler getting in over his head or something. George Eads (who recently announced he’s leaving C.S.I. at the end of the season) stars alongside Steven Seagal, Vinnie Jones, Stephen Lang, AnnaLynne McCord, Ted Levine, and Tia Carrere, which is easily one of the greatest casts in low budget crime movie history. Is the movie any good, though? I would rent this before buying it, just to see if it’s any good.

FieldOfLostShoes

Field of Lost Shoes: I’ve never been much of a Civil War movie guy (you know, outside of Glory), but this particular Civil War drama looks fairly appealing. It doesn’t look all that cheap and it has a fine cast (Lauren Holly, Jason Isaacs, Tom Skerritt, David Arquette, and Keith goddamn David are listed as appearing). I’d rent this one first, too, but if you are a Civil War movie person you should probably buy it and check it out. If it isn’t quite as good as it needs to be, you can at least watch it to see how accurate it is in terms of period detail. That’s always fun.

TheStrainSeason1

The Strain: Season 1: I missed this FX sci-fi horror show from Guillermo del Toro when it aired over the summer, but with the DVD coming out and the promise of a second season what better way to get caught up on the show? Anyone out there watch this? Was it any good?

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Do you watch Constantine?

ConstantineTVshow

Check out my reviews of each episode aired so far below!

Pilot Episode.

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

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The B-Movie News Roundup
SharkLake

Dolph Lundgren is set to appear in a low budget monster movie called Shark Lake: The fine folks at Dread Central reported back in October that Dolph is set to appear/star in a low budget monster movie called Shark Lake, a movie about a small town being attacked by mutant sharks or something. It sort of sounds like Piranha, although most low budget monster movies tend to sound like Piranha. Jen Oda is also in the cast, as well as Ben Maccabee and James Chalke. Lundgren is listed as a producer on the movie according to imdb, so I’m going to assume that’s why he’s doing it. It’ll be interesting to see if Lundgren’s character survives to the end of the movie. I’m going to assume that he will, but I guess there’s a chance that he might not. The great Robert Kurtzman is set to do the special effects, so there’s a chance that if Lundgren’s character does bite the big one it will at least look cool.

You know, you’d think that Lundgren would have fought several monsters in low budget direct-to-DVD movies by now. Why hasn’t he done a Predator rip-off yet?

SkinTrade

Skin Trade is set for release in 2015: Dolph Lundgren’s passion project Skin Trade is apparently set to be released at some point in 2015, at least according to the flick’s Facebook page. I’m going to assume that the flick, which also stars Tony Jaa, Michael Jai White, Peter Weller, Ron Perlman, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa., will go direct-to-video in the United States, but I guess there’s a chance that it might get a small theatrical release in the big cities (New York, Los Angeles, maybe Chicago and Austin). I know I would go see it if it was playing in an actual theatre near me. The movie deals with the scourge of human trafficking hence the name Skin Trade. Don’t be surprised if people make fun of the movie’s “message” since it’s in the middle of an action movie starring Dolph Lundgren. I think this movie looks absolutely fabulous and I can’t wait to see it.

Come on, watch the trailer below and ask yourself if you want to see it.

The answer is yes, isn’t it? Of course it is.

TheExpendables4BrosnanFanMadePoster

It sounds like there will be an Expendables 4: I would call this good news, although I’m a little uncomfortable with all of the “The Expendables 3 is bad because of its lack of blood” talk. Yes, the lack of blood and gore was disappointing, but the movie was still goddamn awesome (check out my review if you don’t believe me). Anyway, while promoting the DVD release of The Expendables 3 and admitting that the lack of gore and violence was a mistake, The Expendables star/mastermind Sylvester Stallone has said that “it won’t happen again”. Again means that a fourth movie is in the pipeline and that Stallone and Millennium Films and Lionsgate are interested in making another.

The world needs The Expendables franchise to continue. There are still plenty of bad guys to take out. Anyone else excited by this tremendous news? Anyone?

StarWarsTheForceAwakens

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser trailer is here!: I’m sure everyone reading this has seen the teaser for the new Star Wars movie coming next year and has developed a strong opinion about it. Some of you love it (I’m one of them. I thought it was great) and some of you despise it (the little scurrying droid and the Sith lightsaber seem to be the two big “issues” with the teaser at the moment, although I’m surprised there isn’t more carrying on about the Millennium Falcon and X-wing sequences. They don’t seem very “Star Warsy”). I’m willing to bet, though, that the teaser would have been universally loved if it had featured Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher at some point.

Although, this is the internets we’re talking about here. Even if Luke, Han, and Leia had appeared someone would have complained about it and turned his or her hatred into an unholy crusade. It’s just what the internets does.

Now, how long do you think we’ll have to wait for a full on 2-3 minute trailer for the movie? Early spring? Super Bowl time?

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And now a moment of Dolph

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Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2

ThePackageKinoLorber

The Package: The fine folks at Kino Lorber are releasing this very cool action drama that used to be on cable just about every other day back in the early 1990’s. Gene Hackman stars alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Joanna Cassidy, John Heard, Dennis Franz, and Pam Grier. The flick was directed by Andrew Davis. I’m going to assume there will be special features of some sort but, really, just having the movie available again on DVD is good enough in the end. I haven’t seen this in a very long time.

AsAboveSoBelow

As Above, So Below: This low budget, found footage horror flick was released to theatres this past summer, but I don’t remember it doing all that well box office wise. I believe it got caught up in the Guardians of the Galaxy wave, although I could be wrong about that. I’m not a big fan of the “found footage” genre, but this doesn’t look all that bad. The whole underground thing the people are walking through looks pretty creepy.

SpeakNoEvil

Speak No Evil: The trailer below for this low budget horror flick is easily one of the creepiest of the year. What the heck happened to those kids? I’m curious to find out.

Antidote

Antidote: This is apparently some sort of low budget post-apocalyptic deal where a couple has to deal with a deadly plague infection or something. It looks pretty low key and, at the same time, messed up. Anyone see this anywhere, like at a horror convention of film festival? Anyone at all?

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Who is this week’s Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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NASCAR and Indycar thoughts

Very little going on in either NASCAR or Indycar at the moment in terms of post season driver moves or sponsor deals or anything like that. I really thought the Indycar world would have a little more going on in it beyond the engagement announcement for Graham Rahal and drag racer Ashley Force, but nothing has come up. I’m going to assume we’ll start to hear a little more about the aero kits that are set to debut in 2015. I’m shocked that there aren’t more leaked photos of the kits. The ones from the Penske test at the Circuit of the Americas are the only ones I know of so far.

NASCAR did announce last week that the “UNOH Battle at the Beach” races for pavement modifieds and late models on the backstretch of Daytona will not happen in 2015 allegedly because of the ongoing renovation of Daytona. I’d imagine the real reason is that the program was a bust as the grandstands for both races were essentially empty and the actual racing was awful. The backstretch track configuration was too narrow and too flat in the “corners” and it was essentially impossible for anyone to pass. The modifieds and the late models will race in Florida during Speedweeks at New Smyrna but those events will likely not be televised (I guess Fox Sports 2 could do a tape delay thing but then that would cut into college basketball and darts coverage).

 

 

In short track racing news, Christopher Bell won the 74th Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix while Rico Abreu won the USAC National Midget title by finishing fifth. Why isn’t this event on live TV on Thanksgiving night? People would watch. Not everyone wants to watch football. ]

Here are some highlights from last year’s event. This thing needs to be on TV.

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Next week: It’s a Dolph Lundgren December continues with Ambushed (2013) and Blood of Redemption (2013)!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.

If there’s anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.

And don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

Bridge of Dragons

Dolph Lundgren– Warchild
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa– General Ruechang
Rachel Shane (Valerie Chow)– Princess Halo
Gary Hudson– Emmerich
John Bennett– The Registrar
Scott Schwartz– Belmont
Jo Kendall– Lily the Maid

Directed by Isaac Florentine
Screenplay by Carlton Holder, with uncredited work by Greg Latter and Clint Lien

Distributed by Home Box Office and Home Box Office Home Video

Rated R for strong action violence and language
Runtime– 92 minutes

Buy it here