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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Danielle Chuchran, Richard McWilliams, Paul D. Hunt
DIRECTED BY
John Lyde
SCREENPLAY
Jason Faller, Kynan Griffin
MPAA RATING
NR
RUNNING TIME
111 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Phase 4 Films
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 "Curse of the Dragon Slayer" Released on DVD/Blu-Ray 
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Originally released as SAGA - Curse of the Shadow, this John Lyde directed film is now finding a DVD/Blu-ray life thanks to indie distributor Phase 4 Films, a growing full-service indie studio with offices in 10 cities in the U.S. and Canada. While I certainly fancy myself a growing fan of Phase 4 Films and their releases, I must admit that this particular film is not one of my Phase 4 favorites but should suffice for those who can appreciate its pleasing visuals, B-movie vibes, and generally solid cast.

Curse of the Dragon Slayer starts off with a battle scene involving elven bounty hunter Nemyt (Danielle Chuchran) winning a fight against an orc on a dragon but, in the process, becoming infected with what is known as "the curse." As a result of this curse, she becomes part of what is known as The Shadow, a group that is working to bring about the return of Goth Azul, the Undead God. Then, we become introduced to Keltus the Wanderer (Richard McWilliams), who stages a similar battle but ultimately ends up uniting with Nemyt, who is arrested for beaing the mark and who agrees to work with Keltus in exchange for being rid of the infection once Goth Azul is eliminated. Kullimon the Black (Paul D. Hunt) joins the effort and Curse of the Dragon Slayer, essentially intended as a follow-up to Dawn of the Dragon Slayer even though it didn't really start out that way, becomes a sci-fi fantasy flick involving orcs, elves, mermaids, humans, dragons, demon gods, and the list just goes on and on.

To be fair to Lyde and everyone involved in Curse of the Dragon Slayer, the film may very well prove to be satisfying for those who embrace the B-movie scene and who enjoy this sort of low-budget sci-fi/fantasy cinema. The acting serves the story well, though I found the film's almost cyclical approach to battle scenes to be not particularly compelling and far too methodical to really build up any sense of involvement in the story. If you try to compare Curse of the Dragon Slayer to any number of recent fantasy related films with dragons or other fantasy characters, there's a good chance you'll be disappointed as it's absolutely essential to remember that this is a lower-budgeted film that just happens to be far more ambitious than most lower-budgeted films.

If there's a factor that works against the film, it's the inexplicable decision to regularly utilize a slo-mo effect that only serves to drag out a film that could have easily gotten away with being 20-25 minutes shorter. The slo-mo scenes, for the most part, only serve to mute the impact of action sequences that depend upon a solid build-up of excitement and action.

How does slo-mo build up action?

It doesn't. It can build up anticipation, but given the lack of emotional resonance in the film and the lack of a cohesive back story there's very little here actually worth anticipating.

For more information on the film, available now on DVD and Blu-ray, visit the Phase 4 Films website linked to in the credits.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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