Shadow Of The Dragon (1992)- * *
Directed by: Jimmy Williams
Starring: Robert Z'Dar, William Smith, Gerald Okamura, Sandy Palm, Donna Cherry, Trudy Adams, and Jimmy Williams
Vietnam, 1974: Three soldiers on patrol, Tony Baker (Williams), Brian O'Malley (Palm), and Eric Brunner (Smith), come across an ancient Buddha statue. Unbeknownst to Baker and O'Malley, Brunner later steals a priceless ruby from the statue's forehead, then slaughters a local family. After this intro, we're now in Los Angeles, present day. Baker and O'Malley have become LAPD officers, and they're hot on the trail of some warehouse heists.
While Captain Washington (Z'Dar), their classic WYC, wants results, it appears their job is going to be tougher than they thought. A mysterious, ninja-like character known only as Mekong Dragon is ruling the streets. So our two detectives turn to a man known only as Temple Priest (Okamura) for help. Things come full circle when members of the Vietnamese-American community also pitch in so our two heroes can finally unmask Mekong Dragon. But who will it be? And why are they doing what they're doing? Who is in the SHADOW OF THE DRAGON?
What Jimmy Williams, the man primarily responsible for Shadow of the Dragon, should have done, is cut the first hour of the film. Just highlight it and press delete. It should have started with the final, whackadoo 37 minutes, and then they could have fashioned something after that for another 40 minutes or so.
The post-dubbing of all the characters' voices, and the rock-bottom budget are not the problems here, although they may put some people off. Asking audiences to sit through 97 minutes of almost-total technical ineptitude is a tall order, however. To say this movie has pacing problems is a huge understatement. Fan favorites William Smith, Robert Z'Dar and Gerald Okamura are not in it enough to raise the quality level. Most people's home movies are shot and paced better. Hell, they're even plotted better.
Before you watch a movie called "Shadow of the Dragon", you think you will be getting certain things. That's why it's fairly surprising when the film takes time out to show a man who looks to be in his seventies eating a chocolate ice cream cone.
One of the better aspects of 'Shadow is that our two heroes are senior citizens. Rather than follow the modern-day trend of getting young kids like Sean Locke and Sean Faris to do all the action, they seemingly got some extras from Keaton's Cop (1990) back on screen again. O'Malley and Baker look very much alike, so it's hard to tell which one is the dad from Seinfeld and which one is the elderly Dan Lauria. Their love interests, Margie McGee (Cherry) and Ellen O'Malley (Adams) look to be about a third of their ages.
The movie takes some crazy and long-winded diversions, such as when one of our heroes goes to Chicago for no discernible reason. 97 minutes may not seem like a long running time for a "normal" movie, but Shadow of the Dragon is not a normal movie. That's why these asides should have been cut entirely. They just slow things down. If you went out of your way to watch Shadow of the Dragon, this is not how you should be rewarded.
The main baddie, Mekong Dragon, is basically a ninja with a voice box. His voice and his mysterious nature are very "Dr. Claw" from Inspector Gadget. There are some amusing and ridiculous moments in the movie overall, but they're swimming in a soup of stupidity that really tests the viewers' patience. Yet, somehow, this got into video stores in America and abroad. It is rare now, but, as we sometimes say, sometimes things are rare for a reason.
The end-credits title song by Curt Harpel is probably the best thing about the whole experience and shouldn't have been saved for last. It should have been played during the movie at least once. It's not at all uncommon for the best thing about a movie to be the final song. This is a contender for one of those times.
In the end, Shadow of the Dragon is an amateurish oddity that should have been shorter. There's cult potential somewhere in there, but it's obscured by some serious incompetence.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty