Batman: Soul of the Dragon

DC Animation continues to be a top notch storytelling company, bringing some extra special stand alone content featuring DC superheroes and characters.

Yes, many of them include The Batman, which only makes sense since the Caped Crusader is arguably the most popular superhero character in the world.

This time, they toss Batman into the world of martial arts and they created a film honoring the different types of martial arts movies that have populated the genre for years.

Batman: Soul of the Dragon features Bruce Wayne (David Giuntoli) head back to his roots of his original training to recruit his former allies in order to stop a villainous cult from bringing back an evil god.

His associates included Richard Dragon (Mark Dacascos), Lady Shiva (Kelly Hu) and Ben “The Bronze Tiger” Turner (Michael Jai white). Interestingly enough, three of these four characters are considered villains in DC Comics 9with Lady Shiva being an assassin). However, these characters are portrayed much differently here than they are in the comics.

The story is told both in present day and in flashbacks, featuring Bruce Wayne and his training with his O-Sensei (James Hong).

The film has some great animated martial arts action and does not skimp on the violence of the genre. I was shocked once at the decapitated head rolling off the screen. There are examples of all kinds of martial arts type films here, including Blaxploitation, snake monsters and Bruce Lee inspired action.

The animation itself is the regular DC Animated fare, passable, but anything but impressive. I have said for years that if the DC Animation company would invest some money in the animation, they could present some wonderful movies. As it is, the animation used here is fine. Unremarkable.

Batman feels like he is just a tag along on this adventure. He only dons his Bat suit a couple of times during the fights and he is far from the standout. While that is not the worst take for the character, there are plenty of Batman fans who may find this lacking because of the lack of Batman.

And the main villain of the story, simply put, looks just like a low budget Serpentor from the old G.I. Joe cartoons. I had a problem getting past that.

Still, taking this as a martial arts movie, Batman: Soul of the Dragon was a fun time and I was happy that I got a chance to watch it. The Elseworlds story could have been better, but it was a decent enough film.

3.75 stars

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