The strongest thing Atkins has going for him is his cinematography skills. This movie looks like it takes place in the middle ages. The color palette alone sells it. That’s not to say his other skills as writer, director and editor don’t play a major role in why Dragon Crusaders is so good. Early in the film there is a pirate ship that is so painfully obvious as a modern sail boat dressed up with aged canvas sails. But Adkins keeps the ship in the background and out of focus, even while we’re on board. If you aren’t paying close enough attention, you may miss it (although I’m sure many won’t).
The acting is lacking in areas which can make the dialogue seem flat (also could have done without the wannabe Shakespeare English in parts). This is somewhat do to the casting of stunt people and riders, which actually turns out quite well for the film. Don’t get me wrong, the acting is no where near bad and is very watchable.
The fight choreography is solid for such a short shooting schedule, but the effects just aren’t there. No awesome sword hits in Dragon Crusaders, and when they do go for it the digital blood squirts (especially in the decapitation scene) take away too much (honestly who doesn’t remember playing with fake swords as kids? if you stab someone between their body and their arm they’re dead, right?). This is a problem in some fight sequences when it appears the actors are play fighting rather than chopping each other up with heavy metal swords (hey we’re on a budget here pal).
The gargoyles and dragons, while on par with other SyFy movies, are probably some of the best digital effects in an Asylum film to date. The movements of the creatures remind me of how the stop motion monsters of Ray Harryhausen moved- slow, steady and with little regard to real world physics. It fits in perfectly with the look of the film.
Overall Dragon Crusaders is worth watching, especially if you’re a fan of medieval era films, dragons or b-movies.
Director: Mark Atkins
Stars: Cecily Fay, Dylan Jones, Sinead Byrne