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Review: DRAGON SOLDIERS (2020)

Director Hank Braxtan should know a thing or two about giant creature movies. He wrote and directed Snake Outta Compton, Unnatural and, along with co-writer Dan Sinclair, contributed to the script of Dead Ant. Now the pair have collaborated on Dragon Soldiers, which pits a team of mercenaries against, you guessed it, a dragon.

Mayor Mordry (Butch McCain) has a homeless problem. He’s forced all the homeless out of town. But they’ve taken up residence in the woods and turned into a highly armed and dangerous group. After several hikers vanish, he recruits the local militia to go in and kill them. But it seems they’ve vanished too. So he hires Artie (Ruben Pla, Fetish Factory, Big Ass Spider) and his team of mercenaries to do it. Artie’s second-in-command Green (Antuone Torbert, Soul Hunters, Dead Zone) seems a little skeptical that they’re needed just to deal with some bums. And he wonders why the mayor was mentioning monsters.

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Of course, he’s right to be concerned. Strange noises, charred bodies, and heavily armed cultists are going to be the least of their problems.

At its core, Dragon Soldiers is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek version of a typical SyFy monster movie. Unfortunately, it’s only somewhat. Because the whole heavily armed dudes versus giant creature genre could use some of Snake Outta Compton’s outrageousness. Because short of having the budget to pull off Reign of Fire type action scenes, that is the only way to set something like this apart from the pack.

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Even if it doesn’t stand out from the rest, Dragon Soldiers is at least one of the better films in the pack. The characters are the usual assortment. Buff action hero, slimy politician, plucky female, a tough-talking coward who mans up when the time comes, etc. But they’re at least given a bit of personality rather than just being the usual stereotypes. There are also a couple of interesting plot twists. That includes an undeniably heroic, if extremely improbable, means of taking care of the dragon. There’s also a funny inter-credits scene.

The dragon itself is fairly well done for a low-budget film like this. It’s certainly better than the one at the beginning of Dragon Mountain or any number of other low-budget fantasy epics. We also get to see a fair amount of it in the second half of the film.

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If you enjoy monster movies, then you should find Dragon Soldiers an enjoyable enough time killer. Just don’t expect too much beyond that.

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