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MSRP $26.98
RATED PG-13
STUDIO Lionsgate
RUNNING TIME 91 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES
• Making of Legendary
• Ultraviolet Digital Copy

The Pitch
Two mid-level action stars, one CG-monster, nothing of note.

The Humans
Scott Adkins, Dolph Lundgren, Yi Huang, James Lance

The Nutshell
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. Oh, and they need to do this before it is killed by Harker, the legendary bounty hunter.

The Lowdown
There are certain expectations a viewer has upon seeing that an actor or actors are in a movie. If I see Kevin Spacey’s name on a poster I expect some character drama, if I see Jack Black’s name I expect comedy, if I see Richard Gere’s name I expect to be angry for reasons I can’t quantify. So if I see action star Scott Adkins and action star Dolph Lungren on the poster of a movie, I expect to see some fighting.

Dolph Lundgren is known almost entirely for action movies and even though IMDb wants me to believe that Scott Adkins is a “character actor” (in much the way Clint Howard is a “romantic lead”) he mostly pulls roles like “Kicking Henchman Number 1″ and “Kicking Leading Man Who Doesn’t Talk Much”, no surprise to anyone who has seen a long string of non-kicking acting by the man. Both men are quite proficient in the art of Tae Kwon Do among other things and literally famous for fighting people onscreen. If these two don’t hit each other than that’s just a worthless tease. “A worthless tease” should be Legendary’s tagline.

Horrible Rictus

“Adkins’ smile is the real monster.” – Cover blurb.

We open on what is most assuredly not Russia, despite what the lying words on screen may say. Adkins plays Travis Preston, a cryptozoologist, and Lundgren plays Harker, an animal bounty hunter. They find a rare species of giant poorly-animated CG bear that kills Harker’s dweeby little assistant and then gets bored by the drama and wanders off.

We now jump forward in time to find a lawyer approaching Preston with a video of a giant poorly-animated lizard walking up a hill. Preston goes from “annoyed skeptic” to “protagonist in a monster movie” in the time it takes to form a giant goofy grin and they head to China to catch a giant reptile with a low polygon count.

Legendary seems to be trying for the Chinese market by getting actors who will be famous there, which is probably why everyone is stumbling through the English language (including the man whose birthplace is listed as “England”). What it really is is a psuedo-science monster movie the likes of which was very popular throughout the 90s and early 2000s (See: Lake Placid, Mimic, The Relic, Deep Blue Sea, Komodo, Anaconda, Jurassic Park, etc.). I think that, had this been directed by Renny Harlan or Guillermo del Toro and starring Bill Pullman or Lou Diamond Phillips as Preston and Pete Postelthwaite or Michael Douglas as Harker, with special effects by Stan Winston, and a bombastic score by John Williams, this movie would’ve been pretty decent. Instead we have a cast of primarily English-as-a-second-language speaking actors being forced to act in English, a leading man who has the charisma of a wet shopping bag and looks like the lovechild of Sacha Baron Cohen and Eli Roth, and a special effects creation that’s slightly better looking than that alligator from Eraser.

React

No joke: This is a picture of two people reacting to the monster having just eaten a man in front of them..

The script works just fine, the problem is that the acting and the directing feel stilted and unnatural. The actors sound confused and emotionless, every scene feels fake, and all the effects shots feature actors who clearly only have a vague concept of what they’re being asked to react to. Even the handful of natural English-speakers feel so awkward as to blend in with the rest. The one stand-out is the comedy relief sidekick played by Nathan Lee. Lee is naturalistic, charming, and just wonderful. He’s absolutely wasted in this.

Now lets talk about the fight scene. It’s awful, I mean just flat-out shit. Samurai Cop has better fight scenes. Adkins was apparently rehabilitating from a knee injury during the filming but that doesn’t explain why he never throws a convincing stage punch, or why Lundgren’s action scenes involve him standing around boredly jerking a gun to make it look like it’s firing. And I’m not even touching on the wire work used whenever the monster hits someone with its tail and they sluggishly levitate toward a wall. If you’re going to hire an action star then you’re expected to provide something, JCVD had an action scene and it was a drama. Even the final battle between man and monster is uncreative and dull. This is a shabby, tone-deaf, weak movie and I cannot reccomend it to anyone.

The Package
There are some interviews and a featurette that are somehow more awkward than the movie. There’s also an Ultraviolet code in case you, like me, wish to make a mistake you can never undo. The disc has English subtitles.

Rating:
★☆☆☆☆

Out of a Possible 5 Stars