This is going to be an off-topic tangent, but I’ve always enjoyed the prospect of throwing "dragon" in the title of a kung fu movie. It’s a nice way to pay tribute to the one and only dragon, Bruce Lee, but it also lets the viewer know that they can expect the movie to include a decent amount of cheese and exploitation. Dragon Lives Again, Enter the Fat Dragon, and a ton of other bruceploitation titles come to mind, but it’s not often that you see many daring “dragon”-related titles being thrown around these days. Sins of the Dragon, which we are looking at today, is a short film that absolutely defines the fun/exploitative nature of the “dragon” title. Filled with ultra violence and genre movie excesses, Sins of the Dragon is an earnest attempt to create a "kitchen sink" genre movie. With no budget and a handful of athletic cast members, director Joey Corpora set out to make a fun and exciting action short. Aside from a few hiccups every now and then, it seems that he has done precisely that.
Our film follows a group of martial artists who roam the woods and dare to stand up against the dastardly Caligo who seeks domination along with his gang of merciless ninjas. Equal parts martial arts adventure and classical fantasy, the story involves a great deal of wandering and extreme violence. With many references to Asian culture, Sins of the Dragon is a short that defies the majority of classifications.
Sins of the Dragon opens with a disclaimer that it borrows from numerous cultures in order to better tell its story. This note to the audience seems a bit unnecessary, because I like to think that most viewers could piece together that this movie takes place in a completely alternate reality, but it is a nice indicator of what viewers can expect to see here. The short seems to draw upon influences that are so varied that it’d be nigh impossible to list them all. It is a gory martial arts film in the same vein as Chang Cheh’s bloodiest films or perhaps Sonny Chiba’s Street Fighter series, but at the same time it is also surprisingly wordy and reflects a more modern approach to dialogue.
The writing, despite being a bit verbose at times, is actually very effective. The characters are enhanced by their conversations and ultimately the audience grows to like the main cast very early on. The acting isn’t always at a polished level, but the main talents are usually effective in their roles. They also acquit themselves well when it comes to the action choreography, which would be a difficult task for any performer who did not already have experience in gymnastics or martial arts. From what I have gathered, the cast and crew all train and became fast friends because of the martial arts. Some of the fight sequences are better than others, with the final showdown of course being the highlight, but on the whole, the action is very well done. Surprisingly, one of my favorite aspects within the short has to be the costumes used. Although the movie was shot in the woods, likely without any budget, the costumes look far better than one might actually expect. The ninjas in the film wear the classic all-black pajama suits that we know and expect, but they never look cheap. With such a limited budget, the filmmakers do their best to squeeze every bit of production value out of their costumes and props, and it goes a long way in legitimizing the look of the movie.
Sins of the Dragon is a ton of fun. It reaches for the stars and does its best to be an effective, and highly original, short genre film. These young filmmakers show a lot of promise. This short may not be the one to make them into huge stars, but the creativity and love for film that is on display here might very well lead them to greatness. You can read more about these filmmakers and their current projects via the official page located here: http://www.platypusunderground.com