DVD REVIEW: P51 DRAGON FIGHTERS / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: MARK ATKINS / SCREENPLAY: MARK ATKINS / STARRING: SCOTT MARTIN, STEPHANIE BERAN, ROSS BROOKS, OZMAN SIRGOOD, ROBERT PIKE DANIEL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Dragons! US World War 2 airplanes! Dragons fighting US World War 2 airplanes! How cool would that be?? Sadly we may never find out, because whilst there are some quite cool scenes in P51 Dragon Fighters, a budget so tiny it can only gaze up in awe at a shoestring turns a seriously neat concept into something laughably tacky and largely unconvincing in yet another wasted opportunity in the world of straight-to-DVD sci-fi.
First things first. Don’t be taken in by the DVD cover which depicts dragons and airplanes in a pitched dogfight above a London skyline; you’ll not be surprised to learn that this doesn’t happen in the film - nor does anything even remotely resembling it. Ostensibly set in North Africa at a point in World War 2 where the US are about to kick some serious Nazi ass, Hitler’s mob are about to fight back - big style - courtesy of their latest secret super-weapon. It appears that the Nazis have come into possession of a stack of eggs out of which have hatched an army of fire-breathing winged dragons controlled by a bunch of buxom, black-clad sorceresses. You’re glazing over, stay with us! The Nazis have set up a massive egg incubation chamber under the desert and, when the Allied Air Force is routed by a dragon attack, a crack troop of… err…. eight multinational pilots are put together to launch an assault on the incubation facility.
So where to start? Well, it says World War 2 on the tin but this looks resolutely twenty-first century; not for one moment does this film look as if it’s taking place seventy-odd years ago (just one of its anachronisms being that P51 fighters never saw action in the North African conflict). The film is loaded with terrible actors and terrible accents, a deeply unconvincing and weedy leading man, a feeble romantic subplot and some nonsense about our hero being grounded when he’s clearly the only man who can lead this ragtag bunch of pilots (and why there’s only eight of them is never explained or justified) to victory against Hitler’s dragon army.
Ah yes, Hitler’s dragon army! It’s the only reason you’d ever consider giving this silly movie the time of day and it’s the scenes with the dragons which save the film from the ‘1 out of 10’ dumper. The aerial scenes aren’t incredibly well done but they’re well done enough to just about work. The dragons - they have swastikas on their wings! - hurtle through the sky belching flame and blowing up aircraft (they blow up themselves when shot, for some reason) and even though the CGI is pretty bargain basement it still can’t help but look damned cool because… well, just because it’s dragons fighting US World War 2 airplanes. This is a bad movie, of course it is; but if you can’t resist dragons vs. US World War 2 airplanes (and we wouldn’t blame you if you can‘t) you’d be best advised to fast-forward through the bad acting, clumsy fights and rotten character stuff and just enjoy the bits with the dragons. And the US World War 2 airplanes. Because even here, in a film as poor as this, that’s just all sorts of cool.
Special Features: None