The Dragon Pearl: Film Review

Children pursue a dragon's treasure in dull Sino-Australian kids' flick.

Mario Andreacchio directs the Chinese-Aussie film about children investigating the legend of a magic pearl and the dragon it was stolen from.

Two kids plus Sam Neill and a CGI beastie equals something very far from Jurassic Park in The Dragon Pearl, a Chinese-Aussie snoozer that hopes to wow a cross-cultural swath of kids but will be lucky to score a Hallmark Channel booking on these shores.
Neill plays a divorced archaeologist in China whose neglected son teams with a Chinese girl to investigate the legend of a magic pearl and the dragon from whom it was taken. Assorted fantasy-film tropes are played against a parents-don't-understand backdrop, with no evident attempt to develop any friendly chemistry between the two young leads.

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The dragon itself is a soulless, undulating thing that looks dubious in its subterranean lair and downright laughable when it emerges into the sunlight. Simpler effects work is no more artfully done, and the pic's sole attempt at a chopsocky set piece is cobbled together from brief shots that clearly involved no actual fighting.

Director Mario Andreacchio manages to get wince-worthy acting even from Neill, and plenty of viewers will recoil at the broad, nearly offensive performance of Jordan Chan, whose temple custodian more than once makes an exclamation that might be the film's epitaph: "Oh my Buddha!"
Production Companies: Hengdian World Studios, AMPCO Films, Sapo Investment
Cast: Sam Neill, Li Lin Jin, Louis Corbett, Wang Ji, Robert Mammone, Jordan Chan
Director: Mario Andreacchio

Screenwriters: Philip Dalkin, John Armstrong

Producer: Alice Fries

Director of photography: Geoffrey Simpson

Music: Frank Strangio

Costume designer: Jack Tung

Editor: Suresh Ayyar

No rating, 94 minutes