The Dragon Pearl (2011; directed by Mario Andreacchio) is an Australia/China co-production. It has a huge Chinese dragon in it. It also has Aussie stars Sam Neill (who has been in lots of stuff, but I’m going to name In the Mouth of Madness because I like it so much and of course Jurassic Park), Robert Mammone (the 2nd and 3rd Matrix films and many Australian TV series) and Louis Corbett (Charlotte’s Web), as well as Chinese/HK stars Jordan Chan (Young and Dangerous, BioZombie, Vampire Hunter D), Wang Ji and Li Lin Jin. Plus a huge Chinese dragon. Did I mention there is a huge Chinese Dragon?
Chinese dragons are cool. Sure, Smaug’s pretty cool, too, but we’ve seen lots of Western/European dragons over the years. Some that feature dragons are: Die Nibelungen: Siegfried [aka Siegfried] (Germany-1924; dir. Fritz Lang), Ilya Muromets [aka The Sword and the Dragon] (Soviet Union-1956; dir. Aleksandr Ptushko), DragonHeart (US-1996; dir. Rob L. Cohen), Dragonslayer (US-1981; dir. Matthew Robbins), Reign of Fire (Uk/Ireland/US-2002; dir. Rob Bowman), Dragon Fighter (US-2003; dir. Phillip J. Roth), Dragon (US-2006; dir. Leigh Scott), Dragon Storm (US-2004; dir. Stephen Furst), Dragon Hunters [aka Chasseurs de Dragons] (France/Germany/Luxembourg -2008; animation; dir. Guillaume Ivernel and Arthur Qwak), DragonQuest (US-2009; dir. Mark Atkins), Age of the Dragons [aka Dragon Fire] (US-2010; dir. Ryan Little), How To Train Your Dragon (US-2010; animation; dir. Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders), The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (US-2010; dir. Jon Turteltaub), and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (US/NZ-2013; dir. Peter Jackson). Yamato Takeru (1994; dir. Takao Okawara) [aka Orochi, The Eight-Headed Dragon (US, 1999)] and The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (US-2008; dir. Rob Cohen) feature multi-headed dragons.
Chinese dragons, however, are less common. Perhaps that’s because they are traditionally much less aggressive than the European kind. In the past week, I have become aware of two films that feature Chinese dragons: this one and The Monkey King [aka Da nao tian gong] (China/HK/US- 2014; dir. Pou-Soi Cheang) — check out the trailer in the Addendum at the end of this article as well as the picture below.
The Monkey King‘s dragon isn’t looking overly benign, but the dragon in The Dragon Pearl is apparently a bit more placatable.
When teenagers Josh (Louis Corbett) and Ling (Li Lin Jin) join their respective parents, Chris (Sam Neill) and Dr. Li (Wang Ji) on an archaeological dig in China they encounter something trapped beneath a temple beyond their wildest imagination. A real live Chinese dragon.. Two thousand years earlier, to defend his kingdom, the dragon lent an emperor his all powerful pearl. Instead of being returned the pearl was buried with the emperor beneath his palace, and helpless without its source of power the dragon has remained entombed ever since. With the Dragon Pearl buried on the excavation site, Josh and Ling implore their parents for help, but met with disbelief the children realize they must ﬁnd the pearl on their own. However thereʼs one who does believe them: archaeologist Philip Dukas (Robert Mammone), who wants to seize the pearlʼs awesome power for his own sinister ambitions. The only way to stop him is for Josh and Ling to get to it ﬁrst and return it to its rightful owner. (Source: AMPCO Films’ Production Notes via Wikipedia)
The ﬁlm was shot in China at the Hengdian World Studios, said to be the largest studio complex in the world, with over 3 million square metres of built sets. Also other locations in and around Hengdian were used. Post production took place in Adelaide, South Australia. CGI and visual effects were created by two Adelaide-based companies, Rising Sun Pictures and Convergen. (Source: AMPCO Films’ Production Notes via Wikipedia)
The Dragon Pearl received a limited theatrical release, though it premiered on 6 March 2011 at the Adelaide Film Festival. It is now available on DVD.
The Monkey King Trailer: