Batman: Soul Of The Dragon follows a young Bruce Wayne and five other students in martial arts to try and take out an evil demonic snake god in the 1970s. What else is there to say other than this 40th film from the DCAU is quite groovy. The film comes with an excellent 4K with HDR image, a fantastic DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix, and some quality bonus content. Highly Recommended.
Batman: Soul of the Dragon is also available on 1080p
The DC animated universe (DCAU) is now celebrating its 40th feature film with Batman: Soul Of The Dragon, delivering a fun, thrilling, and action-packed original story that takes place in the 1970s. This animated warehouse is churning out some great films set in the DC universe on a consistent basis, some of which are based on comic books from the past, where others are part of an original new story - like Soul Of The Dragon that follows a group of ninja-style fighters and a young Batman around in the groovy 1970s. With Superman: Red Son director Sam Liu on board again, this new feature tells a different kind-of-tale that mixes martial arts and everyone's favorite Gotham detective inside a supernatural, demonic storyline with elements of Bruce Lee films highlighting the movie landscape.
In Soul Of The Dragon, a younger Bruce Wayne journeys to the Himalayas and crosses paths with O-Sensei (James Hong from Big Trouble In Little China), who is the owner of a monastery, where he teaches a group of giving students an intense form of martial arts. Wayne wants to be a part of it and joins Shiva, Richard Dragon, Jade, Ben Turner, and Rip Jagger. This temple of warriors has a secret locked door that must never be open and is guarded by a powerful sword called Soul Breaker. One thing leads to another and the door is eventually opened against its will and out pops a serpent god name Naga, where O-Sensei sacrifices himself so that no further harm will come to his students. Several years later, Richard Dragon travels to Gotham and figures out Wayne is Batman and enlists his help to fight a cult-like gang who are hell-bent on retrieving the Soul Breaker Sword in order to unleash the evil Naga serpent upon the world again. There are betrayals, possessions, and even some people coming back from the past to light up this story.
Taking place in the 1970s is a brilliant decision, which allows the animators to completely showcase a retro, groovy vibe here, and it works perfectly with everyone's character's dressing and looking the part. The action sequences are flawlessly handled and choreographed, and the dialogue is quite good as well. Batman actually takes a backseat this time around and allows for the other characters to take charge, which is a breath of fresh air. It's obvious that Sam Liu took some inspiration from a few Bruce Lee hits, some 007 James Bond films, and even some of Nolan's Batman Dark Knight Trilogy here, but it all comes out a success, even if this film will only appeal to certain fans of 1970's martial arts films and this DCAU.
The voice actors deliver great performances and the story is actually quite sadistic and dark, dealing with demonic forces and child sacrifices. This DCAU has found its stride in delivering some mashups of genres and characters from their arsenal and it proves to be working with each film as of recently. There's no doubt there will be a sequel to this film, and fans should be excited about that because mixing Batman with a 70's kung-fu theme is something the world needs right now.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Warner Bros. delivers Batman: Soul Of The Dragon to 4K UHD in a two-disc 4K UHD Blu-ray + Blu-ray + Digital set. The discs are housed in a hard, black, plastic case with an identical cardboard slipcover of some wonderful artwork that is reminiscent of the 1970s martial arts film scene. There is an insert for a digital code.
Batman: Soul Of The Dragon kicks its way to a 2160p UHD transfer and is quite comparable to the recent DCAU releases. It's HDR upgrade certainly gives it a little more push, however, it's not a giant uptick from its 1080p HD counterpart. Taking place in the 1970s, there are quite a few flash sequences that bring this DCAU feature to brighter pastures with some neon signage on the streets, and the fun and exciting costumes the characters wear. The demonic eyes glow a perfect orange and the otherwordly effects all bring is a brighter visual space than usual.
The fires and explosions all light up the screen too. Then of course there are the moody and gloomy elements of this animated film with darker animated sequences that still look good that come with inky black levels. Animation lines are smooth and strong and the heavier action sequences are never pixelated or seem out of touch with modern films. The colors are perfectly saturated and there are no video problems here. The DCAU is known for its intense detail in animation, so there isn't much to say in that department texture-wise, but it still looks elegant and wonderful to watch.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix and sounds excellent. This is a loud-sounding soundtrack full of powerful sound effects and an energizing score by Joachim Horsley. The brutal martial arts moves all pack a powerful punch and are amped up a few points for each kick and punch for a more solid effect.
The supernatural aspects of magic and demonic forces come through nicely and populate the surround speakers quite often with some wonderful directionality. These are the big elements of this audio track from start to finish. Other than that, the dialogue is clean and easy to follow on the front speakers with some great ambient noises in crowded rooms or on the streets of Gotham. This is an excellent audio mix with zero issues.
There are about 122 minutes of bonus materials here, some of which are worth the time, and others are from past DCAU releases.
Batman: Soul Of The Dragon is another winning entry into the ever-growing DCAU. Its action-beats are constantly thrilling and the 1970s setting is spectacular for these characters, not to mention the martial arts element that takes hold of this Batman story. The 4K UHD video is great and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix is stellar and loud. Some of the bonus content is definitely a treat to watch. Highly Recommended.