Dragon Hunters is a fantastic tale telling the adventures of two dragon hunters. The world has become a vast conglomerate of islands of varying size and shape. This babbling universe is mainly peopled with ruthless rogues, surly peasants and illiterate petty lords. Their main concerns revolve around two fundamental rules - eat and don't get eaten. For this new world has become infested with a terrible plague; omnipresent, monstrously famished mutant creatures are wreaking havoc. A few islands away rise the fortress of Lord Arnold. Lord Arnold has a problem. He is living in terror at the thought of the return of the World Gobbler - a horrible dragon that returns every thirty seasons to spread terror and destruction. Nobody has been able to conquer it. In fact, nobody has ever returned alive to spread the news of how the fight went. GWIZO and LIAN-CHU are two dragon hunters but are a long way from being among the best. ZOE, the grand-niece of the lord has decided to take matters into her own hands. Persuaded that she has found the heroes of her dreams, she drags them into the maddest of adventures...
Quite rarely do we get to see a French animation grace our shores- these days it seems that almost all the cartoons we see are either from Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks- and not to mention one made for the kids (I don’t think anyone would consider Persepolis child-friendly). But judging from the buoyantly lively Dragon Hunters, it appears the French have what it takes to charm the socks off the kids too.
Indeed, just one look at the quirky character animation is enough to tickle your funny bone. Thanks to the imagination of the animators, the protagonist Lian Chu (voiced by Forest Whitaker) is a giant with a big body and huge arms but tiny legs. His ragtag team of dragon hunters consists of his cunning human best friend Gwizdo and a blue rabbit-like creature that doesn’t talk but spews fire- surely an odd combination.
But of course, they do have their idiosyncratic charm as they traverse across some truly inspired landscapes to save the world from one mean fire-breathing dragon. Part of the pleasure that you’ll get watching this movie is enjoying the many beautifully imagined backgrounds of (ironically) the world falling apart. Yes, the French have made the impending end of the world look as mesmerizing as it gets.
With no pretensions who their target audience is, the writing/directing team of Guillaume Ivernel and Arthur Qwak have kept the pace of their movie zippy enough to keep even the tots engaged for the 80-min duration. So there’s nary a dull moment as Lian Chu, Gwizdo and rabbit creature set out on their quest with a precocious little girl, Zoe, meeting a host of equally original and interesting characters along their way.
Unfortunately, because of how swift the story moves, there’s not much room here for character development. Certainly, you won’t find any of the characters here having much depth as those in say a Pixar animation. So despite the appealing characters, when the battle is fought and won, you won’t find yourself developing much of an attachment for them.
Nonetheless, that’s just a minor gripe for what remains still an inventive, thoroughly engaging adventure all the way. Dragon Hunters also possesses an unusually quirky charm that makes it different from the usual Hollywood fare. The best way to enjoy this is just to go along for the ride- I guarantee you’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
Code 3 DVD contains no bonus features.
Excellent visual transfer that brings out the colourful world of the movie vividly. This Code 3 DVD is the theatrical version so the audio track is only presented in English.
Review by Gabriel Chong