Rene Perez once again unleashes a throwback to 80’s action films, this time a love letter to the martial arts and military action film.
Raised to train in the military, a mysterious masked man known as the Dragon is hired to perform jobs. A skilled martial artist and marksman, the Dragon confronts an ally who was supposed to extract information but instead kills the target. However, due to a technicality, he is not allowed to kill the ally. Upset, the Dragon attempts to confront the ally, but to no avail. However, the unmasked Dragon’s life is about to change when he meets his new next-door neighbor, a young woman whose grandmother had passed away and she has inherited the house.
As he grows closer to his new neighbor, the Dragon is still hired by his superior, the Colonel, to do jobs. When Dragon is forced to kill a woman, who found a cure for malaria, he suddenly begins to question his morality as he also begins to see his younger self, prior to his training. As the neighbor and Dragon soon find themselves spending the day together, Dragon finally sees himself slowly going at peace with himself. That is, until the Colonel is about to give him a mission that will force the Dragon to make a choice.
You have to hand it to Rene Perez. He is truly a fan of the 80’s B-movies and has unleashed his own brand of B-movie. His Playing With Dolls films are like love letters to the slasher and Italian giallo films while his recent Death Kiss paid homage to the late Charles Bronson with the great Robert “Bronzi” Kovacs emulating his on-screen hero to a tee. Perez’s latest is a meshing of the Cannon Films-era Ninja films, Chuck Norris-style military films, and even adds a dash of a particular chainsaw-wielding maniac in terms of his look.
One thing that Perez is known for is looking for new talent. Discovering Robert Kovacs with the aforementioned Death Kiss, the film is an attempt to turn newcomer actor Chase Bloomquist into a viable action star. Bloomquist certainly has the looks of a potential action star, resembling a cross between Channing Tatum and Matt Damon. He does quite well in the role of the Dragon, a military-trained Ninja who finds himself conflicted when he is given missions that prove to be shady. His chemistry with Emily Sweet, who plays his new next-door neighbor, proves to be quite interesting. Perez pulls off something smart by not having the duo fully engaged in a full-on relationship but more of a slow-paced bonding that blossoms into an eventual relationship that helps Dragon’s trigger into doing things that show a moral side to him.
John Schneider, best known for his signature role in The Dukes of Hazzard and who serves as an executive producer here, plays the Colonel, the Dragon’s boss. He expects his protégé to follow him to the letter of their deal. In what can be said to be cases of perhaps paranoia, the Colonel will question Dragon when his neighbor brings him cookies, fearing they might be poisoned. He even questions Dragon on what he would do if the neighbor had a gun. Charlie Glackin plays an apparent ally of the Colonel who is at odds with Dragon over their styles of carrying the missions at hand. His right-hand man in a behemoth who sports a Leatherface-style mask and is groomed to cause great pain.
Kung Fu Master John Ozuna serves as the film’s martial arts choreographer and with his name listed in the cast credits, it looks as if Ozuna could actually be Bloomquist’s martial arts double when he is decked out in the full Dragon costume. The suit itself looked awesome, filled with Kevlar-pieces and a mask that looks a bit like the mask used in the Finnish superhero film Rendel, which etches marked in for the number of kills the Dragon has performed. When there’s no gunfire, the martial arts fights resemble a throwback to the 1980’s Cannon-era martial arts films such as American Ninja and the like. There are some good exchanges and some nice kicks used. Perhaps for what was recently an announced sequel, Ozuna can full train Bloomquist and have the star do some of his fights as an unmasked Dragon.
The Dragon Unleashed is a welcome throwback action film from the mind of Rene Perez. Chase Bloomquist is definitely one to look out for and here’s hopes he will get to pull off some excellent martial arts in the sequel.
WFG RATING: B-
A Top Dollar Films Production. Director: Rene Perez. Producer: Kasey Dollar. Writer: Rene Perez. Cinematography: Rene Perez. Editing: Rene Perez.
Cast: Chase Bloomquist, John Schneider, Emily Sweet, Charlie Glackin, Master John Ozuna, Eva Hamilton.