DragonHeart: A New Beginning (2000)


USA. 2000.


Director – Doug Lefler, Screenplay – Shari Goodhartz, Producer – Raffaella De Laurentiis, Photography – Buzz Feitshans IV, Music – Mark McKenzie, DragonHeart Theme – Randy Edelman, Visual Effects Supervisor – Ron Simonson, Dragon Design/Animation Digital Visual Effects – Metrolight Studios Inc, Special Effects/Mechanical Effects Supervisor – Trevor Neighbour, Production Design – Giorgio Postiglione. Production Company – Universal/Home Entertainment Productions


Chris Masterson (Geoffrey), Robby Benson (Voice of Drake), Harry Van Gorkum (Lord Osric), Rona Figueroa (Lian), Henry O (Kwan), Matt Hickey (Brother Mansel), Tom Burke (Roland), Ken Shorter (King)


Geoffrey, a monastery stable-boy, discovers that Brother Peter is keeping a secret beneath the monastery – a live dragon. Geoffrey secretly befriends the dragon Drake. Brother Peter dies and so Geoffrey takes Drake out into the world. However, Drake’s existence is soon discovered by Lord Osric, a royal advisor who has drugged the king and is slowly usurping the throne. Osric invites Geoffrey and Drake into his protection and tries to seduce Geoffrey by appealing to his desire to become a knight so that he can obtain the magic of the dragon’s heart. Meanwhile, the wise man Kwan and Lian, a girl disguised as a boy, have traveled from China to prevent a prophecy that Drake’s magic will be turned towards evil upon the nearing night of the comet.

DragonHeart (1996) was a likably middle-of-the-road fantasy adventure whose major appeal was a Butch and Sundance relationship between Dennis Quaid’s fallen knight and the Sean Connery-voiced dragon. It was not a huge success however. Undeterred, producer Rafaella De Laurentiis returns with this cheaply-made sequel. Although DragonHeart: A New Beginning calls itself a sequel, it is a sequel that features none of the cast or creative talents, or even any of the characters, from the previous film. The result was released directly to video.

DragonHeart: A New Beginning is fairly dire as sequels, and indeed movie-making, goes. The film clearly lacks the budget to afford Industrial Light and Magic, who provided the dragon effects in the original, and it is forced to rely upon less than top-drawer effects houses. As a result, the cut-price effects make the dragon look even more of a great big cartoon character than it did the first time around. Moreover, the whole hero and dragon relationship has changed – now the hero is just an innocent kid and the dragon is only getting to see the world and discover its powers for the first time. There is nothing of the wry banter between the two and the witty sense of subverting the cliches of the genre that there was in the first film, everything comes with a dreadfully callow earnestness. About the only tone of humour the film takes is a scatological one – with comic scenes of the dragon farting fire by accident and of people being splattered by dragon mucus and poop.

The sequel’s idea of originality is to have the villain of the show not a cruel king but an usurper of the king – the end revelation about the villain’s true identity is laughable. Quite incongruously, and no doubt due to the late 1990s fad for cinematic martial arts ‘– the discovery of stars Jackie Chan and Jet Li, the hit of The Matrix (1999) – there are some gratuitous martial arts sequences. Their anachronistic incongruity makes them feel directorially boiler-plated on with self-conscious awkwardness, something that is further amplified by the laughable ludicrousness of some of the sequences – like the image of Rona Figueroa taking on soldiers using a parasol and a ladies’ fan.

Raffaella De Laurentiis produced three further sequels Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer’s Curse (2015), Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire (2017) and Dragonheart Vengeance (2020).

Director Doug Lefler, along with producer Raffaella De Laurentiis, next went on with substantially larger budget to make the historical fantasy The Last Legion (2007).

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