Batman: Soul of the Dragon is a fantastic animated movie with a wonderfully unique tone. Going into it, I knew that the movie would focus on one of Batman’s mentors (O-Sensei) and his fellow students. However, I was not expecting its incredible 70s tone at all. The movie is a wonderful mix of great action, strong storytelling, and excellent character development.
In short, I highly recommend watching Batman: Soul of the Dragon. If you’re not convinced, here are five random thoughts on the movie. [Put on your spoiler cowl!]
Batman Soul of the Dragon is That 70s Batman
Batman: Soul of the Dragon is heavily inspired by 70s movies. Think of it as Enter the Dragon, mixed with a bit of Moonraker and Shaft. The movie kicks off with a sequence starring Batman’s fellow student, Richard Dragon, pulling off a caper straight out of a James Bond film. The characters sport bell bottoms, huge collars, and meaty sideburns. Hell, Bronze Tiger appears to have stolen Luke Cage’s 70s outfit from his Power-Man days. Many people look down on 70s culture, but that decade had some incredible fun, and that style of fun permeates Batman: Soul of the Dragon.
The Wah-Wah Guitar Music is Glorious
While the music is part of what gives the movie its 70s feel, it’s so good that it deserves its own mention. The soundtrack is filled with wah-wah guitar and it’s absolutely glorious. The big moments in fight scenes are often punctuated by over-the-top musical flourishes that were commonly used in 70s action movies and TV shows (and, to be fair, the 1966 Batman television show). Those sweet wah-wah guitar riffs though…are just magical.
Insight Into Bruce Wayne’s Soul
Most people know that Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed in front of him. Most people also know that he ends up being a kick-ass crimefighter as Batman. There’s a big gap between devastated orphan and grim force of justice that’s never really examined (heavily) in movies. I enjoyed how the flashback sequences helped explain Batman’s martial arts prowess and his uncanny determination — two factors that are integral to the Dark Knight’s success at fighting crime.
Batman: Soul of the Dragon is Adult Animation
Even though this is an animated film, the content is graphic. There’s violence, blood, decapitation, torture, and more. In many ways, DC’s Batman animated movies are much closer to the comics than any of the movies. While I understand that movie studios want to keep things PG-13 in order to reach the largest audience possible, the Batman that I know from comics is not a PG-13 character. It was great that Batman: Soul of the Dragon was closer to the wicked world of the comics than the polished-for-a-mass-audience movies.
Batman: Soul of the Dragon Makes Asian-Americans Proud
It can be argued that Batman isn’t the main character of Batman: Soul of the Dragon. In many ways, it’s Richard Dragon’s story. As an Asian-American, I loved that the movie had so many Asian-American characters: Dragon, Shiva, and Jade. It was also amazing that so many Asian-American actors were used as their voices: Mark Dacascos (Dragon), Kelly Hu (Shiva), Jamie Chung (Jade), and James Hong (O-Sensei). James Hong is a legend and it was awesome to hear his voice in a Batman story.
Batman: Soul of the Dragon is a wonderful movie that’s the latest in a long line of excellent DC animated features. It’s also another work that will make you wonder why Warner Bros. can get so many things right with animated movies and get so many things wrong with live-action movies. That headache aside, it’s a great Batman story with a highly enjoyable 70s tone that makes it feel fun and unique. Now stop reading and go give it a watch!