Sunday, November 22, 2020

Legendary: Scott Adkins & Dolph Lundgren Fight Over a Big Lizard

Surely, Travis Preston's dear old mother must have been so proud when he decided to use his aptitude for math and science by becoming a cryptozoologist rather than a boringly conventional internist. It is his job to look for cryptids—monster hunting. Business has been bad for Dr. Preston, but things will heat up when he is recruited to find and protect a big Chinese lizard in Eric Styles’ Legendary (a.k.a. Legendary: Tomb of the Dragon, but it is more of a lair than a tomb and the dragon looks like a giant of the Komodo variety, but let’s not get hung up on international titles here), which airs Wednesday morning on Comet TV.

Preston’s last expedition in search of a gargantuan bear was a tragic disaster. It was really the fault of their trigger-happy trophy-hunting guide, Harker, but Preston is the one who got sued. He assumes his career is over, until attorney Doug McConnel hires him on behalf of his wealthy anonymous client, to track, capture, and protect a previously undiscovered giant lizard species that has been terrorizing a provincial Chinese village.

To do his job, Preston must compete with Harker, who has been hired by the local oil company to kill the beast. Harker has all the institutional advantages and greater resources. However, his former science advisor, Dr. Lan Zeng, helps level the playing field when she defects to Team Preston. They also team up with Jianyu, the local school teacher, who was trying to expose the petroleum company’s culpability, until he buys into their save-the-monster campaign.

Despite the presence of Scott Adkins and Dolph Lundgren, there are no martial art beatdowns in
Legendary—just a roundhouse punch connecting with Harker’s jaw. This is a creature-hunting movie, pure and simple. Actually, the creature’s CGI movements look pretty cool on the small screen, but the SFX team either couldn’t crack his attacks or the producers refused to show his choppers snapping down on victims, to preserve the PG-13 rating.

Yes, the creature is not bad, but the first two acts are too talky and too travelogue-ish. The bucolic natural landscape is lovely, but it would be way more cinematic with more monster attacks. Adkins plays Preston with genuine underdog charisma, but the rest of his team is rather bland and undistinguished (including Geng Le phoning it in as Jianyu), except maybe Yi Huang’s Lan Zeng, with whom he develops some modest but appealing will-they-or-won’t-they-become-an-item chemistry. Yet, Lundgren upstages everyone, smirking and swaggering his way through the picture as Harker.

is just okay, but in a way that is very watchable (genre fans should get that distinction). Of course, you have to catch up with a film co-starring Lundgren, Adkins, and a big lizard eventually, don’t you? It’s not great, but Lundgren makes it kind of fun. Suitable for B-movie fans, Legendary airs Wednesday morning (11/25) on Comet TV (and it streams on Prime and Tubi).