Batman: Soul of the Dragon 4K Review (Warner Bros)
Batman: Soul of the Dragon is an 2021 animated direct-to-video superhero film produced and directed by Sam Liu (Superman: Red Son, The Death and Return of Superman, Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay, and Batman: Gotham by Gaslight). It was written by Jeremy Adams (Supernatural, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, Scooby-Doo: Return to Zombie Island, and Justice League Action). It was produced by Bruce Timm (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Justice League: Doom, Batman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond), Sam Register (Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpions Revenge, Harley Quinn, and Justice League Action), and James Krieg (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, Superman: Red Son, Batman: Hush, and Wonder Woman: Bloodlines). This is an original story and not based on a previous comic like most of the other home video releases.
After training himself to become a vigilante crimefighter, Bruce Wayne (played by: David Giuntoli from Grimm, A Million Little Things, 13 Hours, and Buddymoon) travels to Nanda Parbat. He meets the caretaker, O-Sensei (played by: James Hong from Big Trouble in Little China, Blade Runner, The Vineyard, and Wayne’s World 2) and five other students training in the martial arts: Shiva (played by: Kelly Hu from Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Scorpion King, and Batman: Under the Red Hood), Richard Dragon (played by: Mark Dacascos from Double Dragon, John Wick 3, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, and Boogie Boy), Jade (played by: Jamie Chung from Lovecraft Country, Gotham, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and The Hangover franchise), Ben Turner (played by: Michael Jai White from The Dark Knight, Spawn, Arrow, and Black Dynamite), and Rip Jagger (played by: Chris Cox from Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, Superman: Doomsday, Justice League Unlimited, and Family Guy). O-Sensei eventually entrusts Shiva with Soul Breaker, a Muramasa sword in his possession but otherwise remains secretive about a certain door at the monastery’s outer perimeter. One night, Rip penetrates the forbidden door with Soul Breaker which is the key to a mystical gate O-Sensei was guarding.This gate opens to the home dimension of the serpent god Nāga and four of his servants emerge. Bruce and the others kill the demons but to close the gate someone has to sacrifice their life. Years later, Richard discovers that millionaire Jeffrey Burr (played by: Josh Keaton from Young Justice, DC Super Hero Girls, Justice League Action, and Justice League: Gods and Monsters) who is the leader of a dangerous snake cult named Kobra has gained possession of the gate. Richard travels to Gotham to ask Bruce for help but they are ambushed by a hired gang of killers by Burr’s chief killer Schlangenfaust (played by: Robin Atkin Downes from Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge, Constantine: City of Demons, The Strain, and Suicide Squad). During this fight, Richard learns that Bruce is Batman and that Schlangenfaust is looking for Soul Breaker. They head for Gotham Chinatown to inform Shiva, the resident crimelord but the cultists attack them there, and Schlangenfaust uses the distraction to steal the sword. After losing the powerful sword, they go to their friend Ben to track it down. They find the cult on a heavily fortified island where they are preparing to the open up the dangerous gate to sacrifice several kidnapped children. Ben did some digging years earlier and set off this chain of crazy events for the team of martial artists. They go to battle Schlangenfaust, Nāga, and several cult members to save the kids from a brutal death. Can these heroes get past these unholy demons????Batman: Soul of the Dragon is completely original especially when it comes to the DC Comics animated universe. If are fan of older martial arts and kung fu flicks with a hint of spy then you will love this one. They have characters here that resembles Bruce Lee and Jim Brown. Just a warning, Batman is barely in this one and it’s mainly Bruce Wayne when it comes to this story, he isn’t even the main character in Soul of the Dragon. Mark Dacascos is great as Richard Dragon, the leader of this elite fighting squad that’s trying to protect the earth for a living hell. I thought it was cool how each martial artists was different from each other and had their own unique specialty when it came to battle. This one is loaded with all kinds of talent when it comes to the supporting cast that includes James Hong, Michael Jai White, Kelly Hu, David Giuntoli, and Jamie Chung when it comes to familiar actors. It also has a great veteran voice cast that includes Chris Cox, Josh Keaton, Robin Atkin Downes, Grey Griffin, and Eric Bauza to round out the impressive cast for this direct to video production. I love the animation style for this one plus the fact that it’s Rated R and not watered down. It has some great action, violence, and fights. The villains look crazy in this one, I already don’t like snakes so I guess that helps. This is one of the best recent animated features from DC Comics, RECOMMENDED!!!!Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Warner Bros! Thia 2160p (1.78:1) transfer with HDR10 looks stunning in 4K! It’s one of the best looking animated features from DC Comics in awhile. I really enjoyed the old school vibe this one had. It has a few audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 on the UHD. The action and fights for this really shine when it comes to the audio, it has a nice extra kick to them. All of the dialogue is crystal clear and the music has a killer boost to it. It has English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.Let’s discuss the special features from Warner Bros! None of these are on the actual UHD, they are all located on the blu ray disc. “Batman: Raw Groove” is a little over 30 minutes. It has interviews with a variety of experts and members of the production crew. They chat about the 70’s and it’s culture. They talk about the war and politics during the time. They bring up some films that were made during then. They mention the martial arts and kung fu flicks produced in the 70’s. They go over the blaxploitation sub-genre a little bit here. They basically cover all the major influences for Soul of the Dragon. Half way through this, they start to talk about the actual film and project. “Producer Jim Krieg’s Far Out Highlights” is a little over 18 minutes. It has interviews with director Sam Liu, writer Jeremy Adams, producers Bruce Timm, Jim Krieg, actors David Giuntoli , Kelly Hu, James Hong, Mark Dacascos, and others. They chat about the cast and the characters. They talk about the concept and the animation for it. They bring up the influence of 70’s martial arts, music, and cars for this. They mention that they wanted to do something different here and feature more Bruce Wayne than Batman. They bring up some of the cast actually having martial arts experience and black belts in real life. Jim Krieg and James Hong are hilarious in this. It has early animation for the project and behind the scenes footage with some of the actors recording their parts. It has some bloopers and extended interview with producer Jim Krieg at the end. As always, DC loads up their releases with additional extras that are related to their universe. “Sneak Peek – Justice Society: World War II” is a little over 8 minute preview and tease for their upcoming home video release. “Sneak Peek – Superman: Red Son” that’s a little over 11 minutes and I reviewed this one here. “Sneak Peek – Batman: Gotham By Gaslight” that’s a little over 8 minutes and I covered this one here when it was first released on home video. “From the DC Vault” that’s almost 45 minutes. It has two older episodes from Batman: The Animated Series, “Day of the Samurai” and “Night of the Ninja” that both kinda fit in with this movie. Good news about these, they are actually in high definition unlike most of the Vault bonus material that’s from DVD or worse. It has “Trailers” for Deathstroke: Knights and Dragons, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, and Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge. It also has a slipcover, a digital code, and a blu ray copy of the release. It’s available everywhere starting today, CHECK IT OUT!!!!