Can the premise even be articulated?
Well, I guess I can try. The main thing to understand about this film is that it’s kind of an 80’s Action fairytale. Isn’t this 90’s Inaction? Well, yes, and the film came out in ’99, but everything in the film looks like the ’80s. The weapons, the vehicles, the fonts in the credits, even Dolph himself looks to be right in his prime. However, this film is set in a kingdom and the female lead is a princess. Warchild (Dolph) must rescue her and, in so doing, betray his mentor, Ruechang, who turns out to be evil. Meanwhile, everyone is either dressed in something like medieval garb and riding horses, in which case they will have a WWII style rifle, or they dress like it’s ’86 and roll in the aforementioned vehicles from the ’80s. It’s kind of a kung fu movie too, because when someone gets kicked, they do that thing where they suddenly become Brian Boitano and spin like five times before they hit the ground. The kingdom is also multi-ethnic and multi-accented, so one guy is English, the next guy’s Chinese and the next guy’s American. It seems like everyone is represented except the Blacks and Latinos. Utopia!
Evidence That The Script Was Written by Anne Rice:
It’s more just the fact that everyone is always speaking in clear but stilted English than that there are any individual pieces of dialog that don’t make sense. Pretty much everything sounds like this: “I’m leaving. And you can tell Ruechang that when I return I will have an army of rebel soldiers with me.” Or, “If I make one move toward you, one thousand bullets will cut me to pieces.”
The tasty, Valerie Chow. You might know Chow from the great, Chungking Express. Apparently she’s more famous in Hong Kong as a TV actress and the spokesmodel for a cosmetic product called a “whitening mask,” which I’m sure is exactly what it sounds like. Oh, those Asians and their hi-larious self-hatred!
Bargain Bin Quality:
It’s not enough to make an 80’s action, fairytale, Kung Fu movie that takes place in a multi-ethnic, timeless, imaginary kingdom. It must also be implied that Ruechang is the anti-Christ. On the other hand, this shot reminds me of the upcoming Iron Maiden movie.
Supposedly this film was made for $4 million in Bulgaria. They certainly got their money’s worth as this seems more like a $10 million film. If you’re an 80’s action aficionado, and given that you are reading a review of Bridge of Dragons, you probably are, this is worth seeing for sheer novelty. The above pic sums it all up nicely. There’s Dolph the officer gentleman, carrying his princess bride-to-be in the romantic tradition… as a fuel truck explosion erupts into the sky. Then there’s the preposterou-tastic scene in which Dolph jumps off of a three story building and into the seat of a Jeep with someone in the jeep shooting at him the whole time.
Vestiges of Glory
(Elements of 80’s Action)
If wanting to see Dolph Lundgren, stripped to the waist, hands tied behind his back, forcibly marched up a hill by a man on steed somehow makes you gay, well then I guess I’m gay.
As it happens, my count landed right on 99. I didn’t count everyone who leaped out of an exploding structure though, because I have some standards. Moreover, it’s hard to come up with more than a guestimate when most of the people being mowed down are in large groups that are identically dressed. Give or take a few, and you still have an impressive total. On the downside, almost all of these are people who simply get shot and fall over or are blown up in battle. The killing is rarely personal or graphic.
Ruechang challenges a gigantic, captured rebel to a one on one fight. He kicks the shit out of the guy with some hot kung fu, and with the rebel incapacitated, steps on his throat until he is nearly passed out. Ruechang gives up his sword to the rebel, gets it back and slits his throat.
Postmortem One Liner:
After the above Ruechang sneers and says, “perfect wedding gift.”
What you learned:
Always take the advise of your lady-in-waiting.