What’s it about?
Travis and his team travel to China in search of what isn’t supposed to exist … their mission to capture a Cryptid which is wreaking havoc in a remote village and they need to do this before it is killed by Harker, the legendary bounty hunter.
Directed by Eric Styles
7 out of 10
Some B movie creature features you just have to be in the right mood to enjoy. That being said, I actually liked “Legendary” a UK/ Chinese production from director Eric Styles (Miss Conception) and writer Andy Briggs (Rise of the Gargoyles). I felt that there was just the right amount of humor, creature action and hokey, crypto, pseudo-science to make the film a decent tongue in cheek outing. Styles’ movie is part “Ghost and the Darkness” with some “Jurassic Park” and Indiana Jones thrown in. Obviously, not on the level of any of those films but Styles already know that and it does not deter him from “winking” at many like minded monster movies.
The movie, though frivolous, is fun in a “you can’t take any of this mumbo jumbo very serious” sort of way. The film opens quite strongly which it does right in it’s favor. After a crytpo expedition goes awry, resulting in the death of a colleague, Travis Preston (Scott Adkins of Zero Dark Thirty) finds himself at odds with a slew of litigious people and also is embroiled in an antagonistic relationship with a animal tracker and hunter named Harker played by Dolph Lundgren (The Expendables). After being approached by a rich Attorney, named Doug (James Lance), Travis and his crew, Katie (Lydia Leonard) and Brandon (Nathan Lee), head back out to China to find a crypto (seen in video footage taken by the brother of a teacher) which is elusive but not enough so that i makes it way to devouring utility workers.
So, the hunt begins for the creature. As they get started and investigate some deaths, Travis and his crew run into Harker back at a excavation dig. Things get heated and Harker winds up pissing Travis off and fisticuffs ensue. Lundgren, here, is….well, Lundgren. He talks like Lundgren and walks like Lundgren. He chomps on cigars, boozes, runs around with rifles and shotguns shooting and causing mayhem. Just what you want Dolph to do in your film, no? (Lundgren is even guilty of waxing philosophic at one point which is a highlight) Lundgren brings a bit of charm to the movie and he has a cheery twinkle in his eye cementing the fact that he appears to have had some fun making this movie and Styles uses him to full effect.
The film provides us with a decent and tight pace with the right amount of character interaction, investigations and Styles’ approach regarding the humor among the characters is like-able. There are some capably staged action sequences with shootouts, night time boat expeditions (where it becomes a bit of a cheeky “Jaws” rip off) and a few close calls (one involving Doug and a broken off piece of a dock is pretty well done) to round out the convivial proceedings. What I enjoyed, also, is that Styles and Briggs actually supply some good dialogue and character development. The exchanges about the creature, it’s prey, it’s habitat and so on all sound a bit ludicrous but it is agreeable because we get to know these guys (Brandon, Briggs and Katie, respectively) through their actions and decisions (some of which are noggin scratchers but oh well).
Some of the crytpo “science babble” is indeed hokey and at times we clearly understand Harker motivations for getting rid of this beast better than the motivation of Travis for wanting to study it. It’s not too distracting though. If there is any gripe I have with the film it would be that once we see the “Dragon” monster (we first see it in a murky underwater sequence), it isn’t very intimidating or fierce looking. The CGI is hit or miss, here and when it does look good, it is just barely so. Shots linger a bit too long on the creatures (yeah, I said creatures, plural. you will figure it out pretty quickly, anyway) but the confrontation between Travis and Harker in the lair of the “dragon” is quite exciting if a bit un-evenly choreographed. Interestingly enough, a pretty cool sequence actually involves Travis and a colleague of Harker named Dr Zeng (Yi Huang) as they try to escape from Harker’s thugs and try a getaway on a motorcycle.
“Legendary” is an enjoyable enough Saturday “matinee” type of film that is executed with some degree of respect for what a good B picture should be. For the budget, $12,000,000 (estimated), Styles packs in quite a bit of diverting material and enough B movie convention. It is all done in fun and it does not take itself very seriously (Nathan Lee provides much of the humor, here, thankfully). The performances by all are very competent and pretty straight forward. Technically, the film, shot on Red Epic and filmed in China, looks good and sounds good much to the credit of Styles’ DP Shu Yang (Sacrifice) and the rest of the art dept and sound / adr crew. As a result, Styles’ film looks appealing when he takes advantage of the exotic locales and lush landscapes.
“Legendary” is an entertaining and boisterous monster movie that has some cool monster action, corny but capable dialogue and fun performances from those involved. A decent weekend flick that is light, quick and flip. It is hokey and dumb but it is dumb fun with the right amount of diverting appeal to propel it into pleasant creature feature territory. Enjoy!