"Batman: Soul of the Dragon" Animated Release Talkback (Spoilers)

"Batman: Soul of the Dragon" - Rate and Discuss this DC Universe Movie!


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James Harvey

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Renowned animation producer Bruce Timm takes the Dark Knight back to the 1970s for a supernatural-laden martial arts extravaganza in Batman: Soul of the Dragon, the first DC Universe Movie title for 2021!



Batman: Soul of the Dragon
Studio:
Warner Bros. Animation
Release Date: January 12, 2021 - Digital; January 26, 2021 - 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD

Synopsis: Set in the midst of the swinging 1970s, this Elseworlds adventure finds Bruce Wayne training under a master sensei. It is here that Bruce, along with other elite students, is forged in the fire of the martial arts discipline. The lifelong bonds they form will be put to the test when a deadly menace arises from their past. It will take the combined efforts of Batman, world-renowned martial artists Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva, and their mentor O-Sensei to battle the monsters of this world and beyond!

The ensemble cast features a core group of actors playing martial arts students-turned-heroes in David Giuntoli as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu as Lady Shiva and Michael Jai White as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger. Their mentor O-Sensei is voiced by James Hong. Josh Keaton is featured as Jeffrey Burr, and additional voices are provided by veteran voiceover actors Grey Griffin, Chris Cox, Erica Luttrell, Robin Atkin Downes, Patrick Seitz, Jamie Chung and Eric Bauza.

Sam Liu is Producer and Director of Batman: Soul of the Dragon, utilizing a script by Jeremy Adams. Producers are Jim Krieg and Kimberly S. Moreau. Bruce Timm and Sam Register are Executive Producers. Michael Uslan is Executive Producer. The film is dedicated to legendary DC writer Dennis O’Neil, who co-created the characters Richard Dragon, O-Sensei, Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. O’Neil passed away on June 11, 2020.

Batman: Soul of the Dragon Bonus Content
-Batman – Raw Groove – From the explosion of gritty cinema and kung fu to the cultural changes spreading across the U.S., we explore the early ’70s and how they inspired Batman: Soul of the Dragon.
-Producer Jim Krieg’s Far Out Highlights – It’s an off-the-hook and out-of-sight supercut of one of Producer Jim Krieg’s funniest in-character appearances.
-A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie – An advance look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection, Justice Society: World War II.
-Look Back: Superman: Red Son – Kal-El’s rocket fleeing Krypton never reaches Smallville, but instead lands in the Soviet Union, single-handedly shifting the new world order. This is the epic re-imagining of Superman’s origin story.
-Look Back: Batman: Gotham By Gaslight – Set against the backdrop of turn of the century Gotham, Batman is involved in a hunt for a criminal who has committed the most heinous acts of murder. This is Batman versus Jack the Ripper!
-From the DC Vault: Batman: The Animated Series, “Day of the Samurai”
-From the DC Vault: Batman: The Animated Series, “Night of the Ninja”

Please note this talkback is for both the Batman: Soul of the Dragon animated feature and all aspects of its assorted home media releases. Discussion for both are housed in this single talkback thread. Spoilers are also allowed, so those who have yet to see the movie may want to avoid this thread until they have!

Discuss the Batman: Soul of the Dragon animated release here!

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Pfeiffer-Pfan

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Well, this just became one of my favourite DC DTV's ever.

- Engaging storyline.
- Amazing action.
- Beautiful, fluid animation.
- Great characters, well cast.
- A sublime score (Is it just me or is the music better in the Bruce Timm guided movies? He's not afraid of a good melody).

Basically, more please. Let's hope the sales are good.
 

Dallas Kinard

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Well, this just became one of my favourite DC DTV's ever.

- Engaging storyline.
- Amazing action.
- Beautiful, fluid animation.
- Great characters, well cast.
- A sublime score (Is it just me or is the music better in the Bruce Timm guided movies? He's not afraid of a good melody).

Basically, more please. Let's hope the sales are good.
Good to hear. EVERYTHING is better in the B.T. guided movies!
 

James Harvey

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As posted on Twitter, Batman: Soul of the Dragon is just as awesome as you'd hope! With its thrilling story, awesome action, wicked characters, pitch-perfect casting and an unreal score that I need to own immediately, it's not to be missed! It's not perfect, but it's close! Full WF review coming soon!
 

CyberCubed

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Was ok, weird about the cliffhanger ending unless there's a sequel. The IGN review said Batman was almost not needed in this movie and could have done without him, and I agree. He felt just there the entire movie.

Like a lot of these DC movies they feel both too long and too short at the same time, meaning there doesn't seem to be enough story material to fill 1 hour and 20 minutes so the fight scenes drag on a bit to fill that run time.
 

Yojimbo

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I didn't see it so much of a cliffhanger as a metaphor for the theme of sacrifice in the story and it was pretty definitive to me. And it was a nice coda in acknowledging and honoring O-Sensei and his decisions to take them in and train them. The Gate was always their destiny as he hinted at in the flashback of them eating. And in the present, they come to accept that was the story moves along from them finding each other, going to the island, fighting Naga, and all volunteering to go through The Gate. Plus, it was probably a nod to Lee understanding what "smashing the image" meant at the end of Enter the Dragon. The ending was a good example of this how movie really leaned well into the Elseworlds component of it being a one-off story and they could take a risk. By comparison, the Gotham by Gaslight and Red Son endings were too safe.

The 4 of them seemed to all have equal screentime and all served decent roles. I'd have to read the IGN review to see what they're talking about but Bruce's assets came in handy like the car in the car chase or the cargo plane. His armory aboard the plane. Or his mace got pretty important in the catacombs. I'm not sure if Jeremy Adams or Bruce Timm or Sam Liu were using it on purpose but the whole power of 4 is a recurring theme in literature and other media. The idea in some cultures how 4 is a sacred number. Like the Four Domains: Spiritual, Emotional, Physical and Mental. You can see Ben is the Emotional domain because of his anger issue. Bruce is the Mental domain because of his parents' murder. Physical is Shiva because she's a living weapon and how she used that move to kill several people with her bare hands. Dragon was the Spiritual because he was the one who could resist Naga's temptation and attempt to possess him and he was felt the loss most because he loved O-Sensei like a father.

Off the top of my head, I liked all those twists and red herrings like with Rip's true allegiance, Jade's fate, what Jeffrey's real role was, the implication all those children were stand-ins for Dragon who could be hosts. The German guy's hands, oh man! I totally thought he was just a James Bondian villain with abnormal strength but dang! Loved seeing some nods like how King Snake totally looked like Chuck Norris at the end of Way of the Dragon. I believe the blindfold was a nod to 'Blind Judo' or just that King Snake is blind like in the comics. Or the fighter using the broken bottle in Shiva's underground fight was like O'Hara's move before Lee killed him. Oh, and Richard using Bruce Lee's one inch punch move on King Snake. Or Ben founding a school like what Williams did in Enter The Dragon and Jim Kelly in real life. And O-Sensei definitely looks like Keye Luke's Master Po from the 1972 "Kung Fu" series. The first meeting between O-Sensei and Bruce in the flashback is even reminiscent of the flashbacks in "Kung Fu."
 
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-batmat-

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Well that was a SOLID return to form!

I gotta say, I wasn't feeling it so much, until Richard and Bruce go find Shiva. She was my favorite character, and once those 3 got together, the movie picked up and got me hooked until the end.

I disagree about Batman not being needed. Sure, he wasn't the main character, but 1 important part of 4 equally important parts. I loved the group, it really felt like they knew each other for a long time and I liked their chemistry.

Animation was mostly good, some cheap looking stuff here and there but overall very nice, specially seeing thos eTimm (or Timm inspired) character designs. Some stuff that usually look bad are cars and car action, but kudos here, the car chase for Shiva's sword looked great.

I really liked the training scenes with O Sensei, and getting to know the characters through those moments. Fight scenes looked great throughout the movie.

VA were great, tho Im particulary surprised with Josh Keaton, I couldn't even recognize him! He was the Chosen One Kobra guy, right? Who kills himself in order to get the Gate open.

I loved Batman's look, even if we didn't get much of him, it was very cool looking! I thought the dark glasses-snakes for hands bad guy was really creative and their final fight was great! Loved the old style mad scientist vibe he had going on.

Honestly the 70s themed music got old for me. For the whole movie I was ok with it, since thats the thing they were going for. But when Bruce and Ben, and Richard and Shiva have their separate fights and that music comes in, it made it feel less serious and dangerous, and more comedic or just "light".

If I had to nitpick on something, it would be a couple of scenes near the start. First, when Richard lands on those girls' boat with his parachute. No, that's not how people would react to strangers landing on your boat in a parachute.
And second, the scene with the Kobra Chosen One and the prostitute. What was the point? I'm just sick at this point when these movies go for this "adult" things that serve no purpose to the movie or add anything of value, and are just there to earn the R rating or who knows why You could show the guy being evil in more creative ways.

I feel like I would have enjoyed more if I knew more about Bruce Lee's movies, felt like there was a lot going on in homages there. But it certainly didn't tarnish the experience in any way.

That aside, I really enjoyed it. It was one of the best movies in the last several years from this line and I hope they keep improving going forward.
 

Yojimbo

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VA were great, tho Im particulary surprised with Josh Keaton, I couldn't even recognize him! He was the Chosen One Kobra guy, right? Who kills himself in order to get the Gate open.
Yes, Jeffrey Burr.
If I had to nitpick on something, it would be a couple of scenes near the start. First, when Richard lands on those girls' boat with his parachute. No, that's not how people would react to strangers landing on your boat in a parachute.
I assumed they were drunk and/or high. But it was really a just a 007 nod, probably.
And second, the scene with the Kobra Chosen One and the prostitute. What was the point? I'm just sick at this point when these movies go for this "adult" things that serve no purpose to the movie or add anything of value, and are just there to earn the R rating or who knows why You could show the guy being evil in more creative ways.
Sure, on the surface, seems like a superfluous scene. A cliche wink to the audience, 'this guy's the bad guy!' A cringey nod to 70s movie villains perhaps. But I think in retrospect, when you see the reveal that he's the sacrifice all along, you go back to his earlier scene and infer that Jeffrey always knew his role was to sacrifice his life and he always knew his days were numbered, so basically he was just living it up and had a blank check to do whatever he felt like doing in his leisure time. Live in the now - ironically emblematic of the youth in the 70s. And evidently he got off on murdering people he paid to have sex with and eating mice.
 

Pfeiffer-Pfan

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I'm seeing moaning that Batman isn't the most prominent aspect of the movie. Don't fans always complain that Bruce Timm pushes the Bat-God agenda too much?

And now that he doesn't for ONE movie (in which Bruce is clearly not the strongest fighter), he's meet with more complaints from fans for not making Batman the most bad-ass one?

Sheesh.
 

b.t.

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If anyone just wants to know - no lead character designers in this one. The character designers were Dusty Abell, Aluir Amancio, TJ Collins, Tina Duong, and Jon Suzuki. The animation studio was Studio MIR.
For the record: though he isn’t credited as Lead Character Designer, Aluir Amancio did the designs for pretty much ALL the major characters — Batman, Bruce, Ben, Shiva, Richard, O-Sensei, Jeffrey Burr, Kingsnake, Lady Eve, Schlangenfaust and Silver.

I assume we didn’t give any Lead Designer credit on this one because we were deliberately using the established “B.T. / DCAU” design parameters as a starting point, and not having someone create an all-new discrete style, like Phil Bourassa on CRISIS, Steven Choi on GASLIGHT or Jon Suzuki on RED HOOD. But in hindsight, we probably SHOULD have given Aluir the Lead Designer credit anyway, to formally acknowledge his enormous creative contribution to the project.

Also, I’m glad Aluir’s SOTD Batman design seems to be getting a mostly positive reaction from fans. I think it’s pretty badass myself :)
 

-batmat-

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Sure, on the surface, seems like a superfluous scene. A cliche wink to the audience, 'this guy's the bad guy!' A cringey nod to 70s movie villains perhaps. But I think in retrospect, when you see the reveal that he's the sacrifice all along, you go back to his earlier scene and infer that Jeffrey always knew his role was to sacrifice his life and he always knew his days were numbered, so basically he was just living it up and had a blank check to do whatever he felt like doing in his leisure time. Live in the now - ironically emblematic of the youth in the 70s. And evidently he got off on murdering people he paid to have sex with and eating mice.
Hmmm, I disagree. I don't think it was a reveal that he was the sacrifice all along. The kids were, and when the fight was lost, and only he remained, he chose to sacrifice himself instead of give himself up. So I wouldn't say he knew all along that was going to happen, which would explain his way of life. To me it felt that since he was raised since he was a child into thinking he was this Chosen One, he was probably spoiled too much, and grew up thinking he could do anything he wanted to do, which explains the scene, but I still feel the same way about it.
Bond 100% does this at the start of "The Living Daylights". Parachutes onto a random yacht and hooks up with the woman on board.
The film really is brimming with references!
Oh I see! Definitely lots of references, too bad I don't get most of them! For sure a Bond 60s/70s thing.
 

Yojimbo

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Hmmm, I disagree. I don't think it was a reveal that he was the sacrifice all along. The kids were, and when the fight was lost, and only he remained, he chose to sacrifice himself instead of give himself up. So I wouldn't say he knew all along that was going to happen, which would explain his way of life. To me it felt that since he was raised since he was a child into thinking he was this Chosen One, he was probably spoiled too much, and grew up thinking he could do anything he wanted to do, which explains the scene, but I still feel the same way about it.
I interpreted it as Jeffrey was the Chosen One, the chosen one to be sacrificed to open the Gate and those children were the best Kobra could figure out who was suitable to be a host for Naga. And essentially they were willing to gamble and use up all the children until Naga landed in a host that could sustain him.

For the record: though he isn’t credited as Lead Character Designer, Aluir Amancio did the designs for pretty much ALL the major characters — Batman, Bruce, Ben, Shiva, Richard, O-Sensei, Jeffrey Burr, Kingsnake, Lady Eve, Schlangenfaust and Silver.

I assume we didn’t give any Lead Designer credit on this one because we were deliberately using the established “B.T. / DCAU” design parameters as a starting point, and not having someone create an all-new discrete style, like Phil Bourassa on CRISIS, Steven Choi on GASLIGHT or Jon Suzuki on RED HOOD. But in hindsight, we probably SHOULD have given Aluir the Lead Designer credit anyway, to formally acknowledge his enormous creative contribution to the project.

Also, I’m glad Aluir’s SOTD Batman design seems to be getting a mostly positive reaction from fans. I think it’s pretty badass myself :)

DCU has a weird history of crediting the character designers.
-New Frontier: There's no lead, and yet the late Mr. Cooke was listed as one of the character designers.
-Phil Bourassa wasn't a lead on Crisis on Two Earths but was on Doom.
-But yeah, seems like all the movies you supervised after Mr. Tucker took over don't have leads; Gods and Monsters, Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn, Justice League vs The Fatal Five, and Red Son ; except Gotham by Gaslight which Will Nichols was listed as the lead.
 
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b.t.

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I interpreted it as Jeffrey was the Chosen One, the chosen one to be sacrificed to open the Gate and those children were the best Kobra could figure out who was suitable to be a host for Naga. And essentially they were willing to gamble and use up all the children until Naga landed in a host that could sustain him.



DCU has a weird history of crediting the character designers.
-New Frontier: There's no lead, and yet the late Mr. Cooke was listed as one of the character designers.
-Phil Bourassa wasn't a lead on Crisis on Two Earths but was on Doom.
-But yeah, seems like all the movies you supervised after Mr. Tucker took over don't have leads; Gods and Monsters, Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn, Justice League vs The Fatal Five, and Red Son ; except Gotham by Gaslight which Will Nichols was listed as the lead.
What? That can’t be right. No offense to Will, but Steven Choi was absolutely the lead character designer on GASLIGHT. What source are you referencing? (I’m too lazy to go pop in a BluRay)

And Jeffrey absolutely meant to kill one of the kids to open the Gate. He only gutted himself out of desperation once the kids were all freed.
 

Yojimbo

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What? That can’t be right. No offense to Will, but Steven Choi was absolutely the lead character designer on GASLIGHT. What source are you referencing? (I’m too lazy to go pop in a BluRay)
Nope, I was misremembering. Choi and Nichols were credited as "Character Design". Sorry!
gaslightcd.jpg

And Jeffrey absolutely meant to kill one of the kids to open the Gate. He only gutted himself out of desperation once the kids were all freed.
I stand corrected. Thanks for the reply.
 

Yojimbo

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You all might be too young to catch it, but no one has mentioned the MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. reference yet...
I'm glad you said that because I was wondering if Bruce's hidden console in his night club office was based on some console from the show or if that map from when Ben talks about how he trekked the globe taking down Kobra bases was based on the maps from Man from U.N.C.L.E....

Then again, the red head at the card game did look a little like Stefanie Powers's April Dancer.
 
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b.t.

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I'm glad you said that because I was wondering if Bruce's hidden console in his night club office was based on some console from the show or if that map from when Ben talks about how he trekked the globe taking down Kobra bases was based on the maps from Man from U.N.C.L.E....

Then again, the red head at the card game did look a little like Stefanie Powers's April Dancer.
Hint: “Open Channel D”
 

Yojimbo

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Hint: “Open Channel D”
Augh! The communicator pen Richard gives the children near the end.

EDIT: Hmm, surprised no one has nitpicked Batman snapped necks (albeit the necks of monsters and possessed O-Sensei) in this one.
 
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