I think it's been four or five months since I recorded this film off the Sci-Fi network. Damn. That's a long time to wait for a movie recap, especially if it's for the wackiest medieval fantasy epic ever to air on expanded cable: Dragon Sword. But then, the movie itself languished in distribution hell for two years before it even got onto TV, so maybe my delay isn't so bad.
Did I mention that it contains 1991's Sexiest Man Alive? You know you've missed him!
One of the first things we see in this film is this mysterious logo:
Naming your production company "Great British Films" is like declaring that you're "classy" or "sensitive": the application of the label automatically renders it untrue. And what's that brown shape supposed to be? A football -- no, they play another kind on that side of the pond. An almond? A peanut M&M? A distended bladder? What is it??
Oh, never mind. Let's get to the damn framing device.
Unfortunate line art soon gives way to the sight of two buddies, George and Tariq, just finished Crusading and strolling along the northern coast of France.
You might not recognize George, unless you're a fan of Rome on HBO. (Which you should be; it's freaking awesome.) He's James Purefoy, who rocks the house as Mark Anthony. But I think we all know Tariq there; he's none other than Academy Award nominee Michael Clarke Duncan!
Now, let me assure you that I love Michael Clarke Duncan. Love him. He's a talented actor and one of the celebrities I'd most like to hug. He's got a great emotional range; he can play pathos and wacky comedy with equal skill. He doesn't, however, have a very large historical range. He's a modern actor, is Michael Clarke Duncan. And he's very American, too. What I'm trying to say is this: he simply does not work as a medieval Moor.
See? It's just ... not remotely believeable.
Meanwhile, a monk is facing the noose.
And a spectacularly unattractive hangman. (Damn. That's like a pink Orc or something.)
But fear not! For the monk soon effects a daring escape, through the judicious application of a groin-kick and the good fortune of landing on a...
...board with wheels. And, apparently, bearings, which weren't used in Europe in -- oh, I need to quit thinking along actual historical lines. It's that kind of movie, folks: Michael Clarke Duncan is a Moor, and a monk hops onboard the world's first skateboard for a bitchin' chase scene.
The monk hops off the board and runs for his life... onto the beach where George and Tariq are loitering! Tariq observes the knights chasing the monk and calls George, who's currently leaking Ye Olde Lizarde. George walks over to Tariq and we hear an utterly inexplicable zipping sound, considering that zippers weren't invented until -- oh, crap, there I go again. Tariq and George decide to rescue the monk, using "the old rope trick."
Oh, yeah, the credits are still rolling.
We are suddenly transported to Britain, where a princess is wading into a lake. Then we cut to--
I think I died a little bit. That's right, y'all: Dame Joan Plowright, Tony winner, Golden Globe winner, Oscar nominee, Baron Laurence Olivier's widow. In Dragon Sword.
Anyway. George and the monk (Father Bernard) depart for England by boat, while Tariq plans to stick around to find El Cabrillo and avenge his brother's death.
That doesn't work out too well. Tariq is soon captured by El Cabrillo's men and forced to duel with--what the--?
Val Kilmer?! I need a drink. El Kilmer and Tariq fight for a while, but we're not shown the outcome.
Meanwhile, George and Father Bernard are rowing across the English Channel. Well, George does all the rowing, while Father Bernard does a lot of drinking and philosophizing in the great cheesy-movie tradition of long-winded sidekicks.
George eventually returns to his home village, where he's greeted by another great cheesy-movie tradition: the obnoxiously cute kid.
Wait a minute. Has Corey Feldman reproduced, that we know of? Best not to think about that one too much. George greets his father after many years Crusading. Dad is one of those veteran-types who lost his legs in a skirmish (with a dragon, it turns out) and wishes his son would pursue more fighting, perchance to suffer a debilitating injury of his own. It's a weird dynamic.
You could say it's totally forked. (Ow!) George, however, wants nothing more to do with fighting, and merely wishes for a couple acres and a cow or something like that. His dad is mortified, but George persists; finally Dad tells him to go talk to the king and gives him a little horn made of a dragon's tooth as some kind of sign to the king that George is bona fide.
Across the Channel, El Cabrillo and his men mount up and plan to follow Tariq's trail to England.
In a cave somewhere, the princess we saw wading into a lake during the credits pouts as she babysits an...egg?
And on a road somewhere else, a group of men rides toward the palace to seek an audience with the king. They've been looking for his daughter Princess Luma, but to no avail. She's nowhere to be found. In fact, you could say...
...that she's like the wind.
Garth here (party on!) keeps getting separated from his men during the course of the film. It's almost like they don't like him or something. Anyway, Garth rides to meet the king without his men, for Luma is incredibly precious to him: she's the future Mrs. Garth. (Not to be confused with Garth's Mom, whom Wayne had a major crush on.)
As George rides to see the king, we're treated to lots of Ren-Fest-esque, "huzzah!"-worthy scenes of Ye Olde Faque England.
I can't help but think that's a bad idea in a town full of thatched roofs. Sure enough...
Looks like Fire Dude got too close to the house on the right there. What makes for even more wackiness is that the person re-thatching the roof falls through the thatching as George rides by! Huzzah!
George eventually makes his way to see the king.
Simon Callow, no! Dammit, I watched your one-man Dickens show live! Ah, hell, I guess we've all got to pay the bills somehow. Oh, but this hurts to see.
George is in the middle of petitioning the king for 40 acres and a mule, or whatever it is he wants, when Garth storms in, apologizing for his total lack of success in Luma location. George shows the king the dragon-tooth horn and the king decides to send George with Garth to continue the search for Luma.
He also apparently decides to send one of the Keebler Elves. This poor guy is saddled not only with that tragic hat but with the name Elmendorf, which just sounds like he should be manning the Pecan Sandies oven. He's some kind of adviser and friend to the princess, so he gets to ride along.
Meanwhile, El Cabrillo and his dudes land in England, as ominous music plays. I feel so sorry for that horse underneath El Cabrillo.
As we rejoin our search party, Garth tells George about Princess Luma, how gentle and docile she is, and how she shares his love for licorice. (Apparently, Garth's men have caught up to the group by now. They may be good fighters, but their punctuality leaves a lot to be desired.) Their quest leads them to a big lake, where they must pause.
[J maintains that "rearward" is not a word, or if it is, it shouldn't be, because it's so damn hard to say. I think it is an actual word, but I agree that it should be disqualified on the grounds that it makes the person saying it sound like a motor that won't turn over. Kinda like "rural."]
But before much progress can be made on the conversion of trees into boats, the party is beset by a band of marauders and must fight them off. I can't help but notice that most of the blows struck in this fight seem to be of the "bad pun" variety. There's no blood and no apparent death; dudes just fall down and stay down. It's like children's theater or something.
George runs after an escaping marauder, only to meet up with...
This kid again! Damn, between Swayze and the kid, there's a motherlode of Feldman-face in them thar hills. For some reason, Elmendorf is with them and they all head in some other direction. Along the way, they run into a landmark of sorts.
What gets me about this scene is not that George casually sticks his hand into the dragon turd to figure out its relative freshness; it's the relative calm with which everyone greets the fact that there's apparently a dragon out there. Aren't they supposed to be wiped out? And even if they weren't, I'd be more than a little bit unnerved to discover that I had stumbled across the bathroom of a giant fire-breathing reptile. But no, these guys are like, "Huh. Dragon."
They follow some tracks (dragon or marauder, I can't remember which) to a cave, where they find a giant, scaly egg. George recognizes it as a dragon egg and draws back his sword to destroy it. Suddenly the screen goes black!
Ah, the old bonk-him-on-the-head-with-an-old-dragon-bone routine. Wah-waaaah.
Seems Luma has decided to protect the egg. Apparently, the big dragon who snatched the princess during the credits, picked Luma to watch over her egg, and now that the big dragon has apparently slunk off to die in the lake, Luma feels honor-bound to do so. Displaying a tin ear for names, she has dubbed the mama dragon "Adelaide" and the egg "Smite." In general, verbs just don't work as names. But that's the least of George's problems with the egg.
Damn, how big is that sword?! How do you even carry that thing? Doesn't it drag on on the ground? Dammit, I'm thinking again. Sorry about that.
George tries to explain to Luma that dragon eggs tend to hatch dragons, who breathe fire and eat cows and people whole and burn forests and generally cause death and destruction wherever they go.
She ain't trying to hear that.
The dudes agree to help Luma get "Smite" to someplace safe for the hatchin' while secretly agreeing to skewer the damn thing the first chance they get. (I'm totally on Team Dude, for the reasons outlined above.) They spend the night in the cave, and we're treated to the sight of George watching Luma undress by firelit silhouette...
...and falling asleep.
The next morning, Luma gets a fresh change of clothes from the wagon that mysteriously joined the three dudes at some point the previous day.
She also gets a blast-force shot from the makeup gun. Damn.
George goes to get "Smite" ready for placement in the wagon, but attempts to use this opportunity to rid the earth of one more persistent threat to man and beast.
Wah-wah-wah-waaaaaaah. Nope, no saving humanity from a scaly scourge today, George!
I know, I know. (What I don't know is why this shot is framed so badly.) Eventually, they get the egg out of the cave.
Oh, like you didn't see that coming.
They eventually load the egg onto the wagon, possibly hoping to pass it off as Farmer Elmendorf's Prize Watermelon.
Yeah, good luck with that.
El Cabrillo's thugs have joined the pursuit of Princess Luma, and our little band is aware of El Cabrillo hunting them. They haul egg to a nunnery where Luma's cousin currently sports the habit. Mother Superior comes out to greet them and I almost cry.
Joan. Joan! What are you doing?
At least Mother Superior has the good sense to recommend that the egg be destroyed. But she receives some opposition from...
Lord, him again. Apparently, he and the Mother go way back, and Father Bernard thinks the egg should be saved. I start to wonder if this is all some parable for stem cell research, then I realize that I'm thinking and stop immediately. The godly folk agree to let the egg stay overnight, but it has to leave by morning.
Luma and George get cleaned up and join the nuns for dinner in what has got to be the best-lit, best-appointed, most sumptuous dining room ever seen in a nunnery. Then again, I guess nuns don't have to agree to a life of poverty, so good on them. Of course, there's an extra guest at dinner.
Garth appears happy to see Luma, and asks her to chat about their future.
She's so over it, and lets him know the wedding's off. Garth seems to take her rejection well, but secretly hatches a plan to make sure he marries into the royal family. The next morning, he kidnaps Luma, dresses her as one of his men and takes off with Father Bernard to a church for a swordpoint wedding.
You know, his face might be pulled taut and Feldman-ish, but Swayze still has that fantastic dancer's posture. Nobody puts Swayze in the corner, y'all.
Suddenly, the dudes arrive (minus the kid, who's been snatched by El Cabrillo, to my delight) and so does...
The egg. Garth recognizes it immediately and is horrified at what Luma has been protecting.
See? Horrified. Luma looks up as she hears the approach of El Cabrillo's men, and the five of them step outside to face their pursuers.
Again, what is up with the framing? Would it have killed them to center that shot? George strides up to El Cabrillo, who greets him with a...
Forehead thump? Waitaminute...
Tariq! You killed Val Kilmer after all! (Oh, dear God, that poor horse!)
Tariq muscles George inside the church courtyard, where they pretend to fight for the benefit of El Cabrillo's men while making introductions. Unfortunately, El Cabrillo's men aren't too pleased with this peaceable turnout; they probably hoped for some pillaging and looting. So our small band retreats to the church, where a miracle is about to occur.
No, I don't mean Tariq lifting a table with Elmendorf still attached, I mean the miracle of gooey, destroyer-of-worlds birth!
Wow. It's so... lifelike.
Meanwhile, El Cabrillo's dudes are still fighting outside, but now they're joined by Garth's dudes, who are, I think, fighting against El Cabrillo's dudes... it's confusing.
At some point, the kid (or somebody) blows on the little dragontooth horn, because we are suddenly whisked lakeside, where...
Again, so very, very lifelike.
Apparently, news of this battle has spread so far and so quickly that ...
...they wheel George's dad in on a horse made of straw. (What is it with this movie and fire hazards?) I guess they're going to tow him around to the action or something.
Tragically, Elmendorf catches a spear in the old ticker.
No more Elfin Magic for him. Oh, but a different type of magic is brewing as mother and critter are reunited!
Everyone who isn't a main character wisely clears out, but George decides to do his duty and slay both the fire-breathing bastards.
He notices a couple of things: first, that the smell of gooey little Dragon, Jr., is keeping mom's temper under control, and second, that there's something sticking out from her chest. Could it be part of the lance his father broke off in the dragon who ate his legs? (Did I really just type that sentence? Good Lord.)
George removes the old lance and comes outside, letting everyone (including a pissed-off Luma) believe that he's killed the dragon. Luma agrees to leave with him, though, and the two of them are walking along the lake when...
Garth's still alive! And the dragon's still alive! (One of those sentences is soon rendered false.) George tells Luma that he spared both dragons for some stupid reason that makes no goddamn sense. But the dragons somehow know that they must stick to the lake to avoid discovery.
She's touched that he's allowed to let a major threat to all living things go on existing. And so they continue on their merry way, with the following exchange: "What's the name of this lake?" "Ness, I think. Lake Ness." Oh, so the dragons will eat the tourists, then!
And we end as we began, with cheesy art.
I hope you've enjoyed this recap of Dragon Sword. I worry, though, that I have not conveyed the full caliber of the film's nuttiness. So let me present my tribute to Dragon Sword: The Wackiest Little Dragon Tale With a Vague Basis in Historical Legend and Anachronistic Characters Ever!