Legend of the White Horse (1986) poster

Legend of the White Horse (1986)


aka White Dragon
(Bialy Smok)

USA/Poland. 1986.


Directors – Jerzy Domaradski & Janusz Morgenstern, Screenplay – Robert C. Fleet, Producers – Robert C. Fleet & Alina Szpak, Photography/Photographic Effects – Ryszard Lencezewski, Music – Janusz Stoklosa, Production Design – Tadeusz Kosarwicz. Production Company – Legend Productions/Film Unit Perspektywa.


Christopher Lloyd (Jim Martin), Dee Wallace Stone (Alta), Allison Balson (Jewel), Stephan (Steve Martin), Soon-Teck Oh (Tai Ching), Kazimierz Kaczor (Superintendant), Christopher Stone (Doc Westmore), Luke Askew (Frank Brown), Charles Kivette (Stern)


Jim Martin is hired by a mining company to go to the small East European country of Karistan to conduct an environmental impact report. He accepts lodgings with Alta whom the locals regard as a witch. Jim’s son Steve strikes up a friendship with Alta’s blind daughter Jewel. She regularly wanders through the nearby woods and hills where she has befriended a white horse that appears to her. When she is threatened, the horse transforms into a dragon and comes to her protection. When Jim refuses to fake a report that will mean the region will be plundered for its minerals, his employer hires assassins to eliminate him. Meanwhile, the dragon is threatened when Alta and the bandit Tai Ching combine to kill it so that they can steal its treasure.

This was a Polish attempt to jump aboard the mid-1980s fantasy film. In order to sell it internationally, the filmmakers have imported a couple of Hollywood names – Dee Wallace and Christopher Lloyd, along with some less-recognised other names – Dee’s husband Christopher Stone, Luke Askew and Korean-American actor Soon Teck-Oh.

The film slings together a series of vague plot elements. Christopher Lloyd is a decent dad working for a Sinister Corporation. He is sent to survey a peaceful (but superstitious) backwoods Europe region. However, when he fails to turn in a favourable report that would allow the company to exploit the area, they employ mercenaries to kill him. (The corporation’s plans are no more clear than that – we never learn what he is surveying or what they intend to do). Lloyd’s son (young Polish actor Stephan (Szipak-Fleet) who is nowadays a visual effects supervisor) befriends Dee Wallace’s blind daughter (Allison Balson). She is friends with a magic white horse that appears in the woods and can turn into a Dragon. There is apparently some great destiny attached to the daughter, although in terms of plotting this ends up being no more than the dragon turning up to save her from the bad guys.

Stephan, Allison Balson and Christopher Lloyd with the dragon in Legend of the White Horse (1986)
(l to r) Stephan, Allison Balson and Christopher Lloyd with the dragon

This is one of the most vacant fantasy films made during the 1980s. It is killed by some incredibly bad effects. Each of the appearances of the papier-mache dragon can be guaranteed to reduce one to hysterics. It is designed as a large cumbersome creation about three metres tall and with only about two points of movement. The scenes where it vanquishes bad guys with some really crappy animated beams from its eyes and reduces them to rocks and tree stumps are so cheap-looking as to be laughable. This is such a cheap dragon that we never even get to see it fly.

The film imports two names that were well-known in the era – Christopher Lloyd on the back of his performance as Doc Brown in Back to the Future (1985) and Dee Wallace who was best known as the mom in E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Wallace, who is usually a competent middle-of-the-road actress, is thoroughly unconvincing playing the caricatured cliché of a Gypsy woman and delivers what is possibly the worst performance she has given. Lloyd provides a semi-decent performance, playing with a chirpily honest and slightly embarrassed cuteness in what is probably one of the most normal roles he has ever been given.

Trailer here

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