A knight is sworn to valor.
His heart knows only virtue.
His blade defends the helpless.
His might upholds the weak.
His word speaks only truth.
His wrath undoes the wicked!
— The Old Code
A 1996 movie starring Dennis Quaid and the voice of Sean Connery
Quaid is Bowen, a knight in 10th Century (Saxon) England who is one of the few left who adhere to the "Old Code" of King Arthur
and the Knights of the Round Table. Bowen is the teacher and mentor to a young prince named Einon. During a peasant uprising, the King is killed in battle and the prince is horribly injured. Bowen takes the boy to his mother, who strikes a deal with an intelligent dragon (Sean Connery) to perform an ancient ritual, which will give the prince his life back. A few weeks later as Einon assumes his role as the new King, Bowen realizes that Einon is cruel and sadistic, more than the previous King. Disillusioned, Bowen believes that the dragonheart corrupted Einon and sets out to hunt down and kill every last dragon.
After many a year of dragonslaying, Bowen comes across the one who performed the dragonheart ritual, though he doesn't recognize him. They fight to a standstill, and decide to strike a partnership instead of killing each other. The dragon harasses towns and Bowen will pretend to kill him. The dragon doesn't have to worry about actual slayers and Bowen makes a living hustling the villagers.
Bowen eventually gives the dragon a name, Draco, after the dragon constellation. His time with Draco reminds him of how far he has gone away from the Old Code, and he realizes that Einon was always evil. Both Bowen and Draco believed their influence could change him but they were wrong. They then decide to encourage another peasant uprising to bring down Einon. With Bowen as a leader and with Draco as muscle, they believe they can succeed. What no one expected was that Draco and Einon's fates are linked together through the dragonheart.
The movie was one of the first after Jurassic Park
to feature such extensive CGI; Draco was a living, breathing character of his own and Sean Connery's voice gave him added weight.
Critics were ho-hum about the film, but the majority of moviegoers enjoyed it. Criticisms seemed to be more on the non-Draco production values, compared to epics like Braveheart
, showing a few dozen people fighting a battle in a crowded forest didn't give quite the same spectacle (never mind the fact that armies in the dark ages tended to not be much larger than a few dozen men
). Also, the humor was sometimes slapstick and at other times anachronistic, with the monk character Gilbert quoting from the 16th
century King James Bible.
The head screenwriter, Charles Edward Pough, published a novelization of the story which expanded somewhat on the characters, events, and world.
A sequel, Dragonheart: A New Beginning
came Direct-to-Video in 2000. Although the new dragon, Drake, was voiced by Robby Benson of Beauty and the Beast
fame, it was fairly standard DTV fare.
Toward the end of Bowen's life, he had returned to the cave where he had first met Draco - and discovered a dragon egg. The egg was put in the care of Gilbert's monastery, where it hatched into a young dragon named Drake. Drake is cared for by a friar and the novice Mansel in secret, until he is one day discovered by Mansel's friend Geoff, a stableboy who dreams of being a knight. Meanwhile, a pair of travelers arrive from the East, searching for a dragon they believe has been born; a prophecy says an ancient evil will take hold of the land using a dragon's heart when a two-tailed comet blazes across the sky. The comet is just days away, and they intend to prevent the evil from happening.
A third film, titled Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer's Curse
, was released direct-to-video and Netflix in February 2015. Gareth, a squire aspiring to be knighted, discovers a dragon and a clutch of eggs while searching for treasure to pay off his debt. The dragon - who Gareth names Drago - saves Gareth's life by sharing his heart after the young man is badly wounded protecting the eggs, and the two become bonded.
Drago, however, has been cursed by the evil sorcerer, Brude, who wants the eggs for himself: in bright light, Drago becomes ghostly, unable to fight, and on the night of the full moon - just two days away - Brude will be able to fully bend Drago to his will. Gareth and Drago, and their two new companions, must protect the eggs and figure out a way to break the curse.
The original film provides examples of:
- Doesn't Trust Those Guys: Bowen claims that the word of a dragon is worthless because you can't trust them.
- A Dog Named Dog: "Draco" is Latin for "dragon". Justified in that he refuses to tell his real name and says humans can't pronounce it anyway. Lampshaded by Draco:
So instead of calling me "dragon" in your tongue, you'll call me "Dragon" in some other tongue.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Kara's father remarks to Einon that the should be grateful, for it was a stroke from his blade that made Einon a king. That crack ends up costing him dearly.
- The Dragon: Not Draco, actually - Einon's general, Brok.
- Dual Wielding: Kara prefers to fight with two axes. Bowen during the forest battle.
- Evil All Along: Einon.
- The Evil Prince: Einon, who grows up to become an Evil King.
- Exact Words: "Death should be a release, not a punishment." Einon later uses this to justify killing Kara's father, since she asks the King to release him.
- Excuse Me While I Multitask: While practicing with Einon in the beginning, Bowen pours himself a drink and is still able to parry all of Einon's blows without even looking.
- Fallen Hero: Bowen, a once proud and noble knight of the Old Code, turns into a disillusioned mercenary and dragonslayer. (And for a while, a Con Man with a dragon for a partner.)
- Fate Worse Than Death: None in particular, but the trope deserves mention because Einon is a big fan of them. In his words, 'Death should be a release, not a punishment.'
- Invoked, with this exchange between Kara and Einon: "In your kingdom, Einon, there are fates worse than death!" "I'll think one up for you." He later decides to make her his bride, which may be the fate he intended.
- I'd say that one's soul dissipating into nothingness (the implied fate awaiting Draco if he cannot redeem himself) counts.
- Forceful Kiss: Einon does this to Kara, not just to mock her about killing her father before, but to reveal his plan to marry her.
- Giant Flyer
- The Gift: Parodied with Brother Gilbert, who picks up a bow and arrow pretty quickly.
- His first and second shot in his life, after some vague instructions, are both deadly shots.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Averted with Einon's mother, Queen Aislinn, whose only crime was loving her son and trying to save him. Between Einon and his father, this movie is a much stronger example of God Save Us From the Kings.
- Hands-On Approach: Bowen gives Kara instruction of how to properly use a battle hatchet.
- Here There Were Dragons: The Arthurian days are past, the Old Code is almost forgotten about, and dragons have since been nearly hunted to extinction. And at the end, they're all gone.
- Heroic BSOD: Bowen has one after realizing that he had helped wipe out an innocent species for no reason (he thought that Draco's heart had made Einon evil, when in fact Einon had always been a monster.)
- Healing Hands: Kara tends to an injury Bowen receives while fighting with Einon; Bowen compliments her on having "a healer's touch."
- Heel-Faith Turn: Bowen redeems himself from his Fallen Hero status thanks to King Arthur.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Bowen, to Kara. It's made more explicit in the novelization, where he actually confesses his feelings.
- Heroic Resolve: Bowen at Avalon, citing the Knight's Code in front of a statue of King Arthur.
- Hit Me, Dammit!: Draco tries to convince Bowen to kill him in order to beat Einon.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Bowen sorely wanted to believe that Einon was better than his father. He's also irrationally suspicious of his future ally Draco at first, believing that the only reason Einon became evil was because Draco's heart made him that way.
- Ink-Suit Actor: The FX artists made Draco talk and act with Sean Connery's mannerisms.
- Is That the Best You Can Do?: Draco says this when Bowen first attacks him.
- I Want Them Alive: When Einon realises that he is immortal as long as Draco lives, he orders off the dragonslayers his mother hired, even using the exact words, "I want it alive!"
- I Was Beaten by a Girl: Brok is killed by Kara. His dying lines are even: "A girl?"
- Kick the Dog:
- We know Brok is a bad guy because he insults Bowen early on for no reason, calling him a nursemaid.
- Einon also gets a lot of moments when it counts, including shooting Kara's father for sport. In the novelization, he later rapes Kara after she tried to kill him.
- Knight in Sour Armor:
- Bowen, who literally is a knight.
- And, ironically enough, Draco.
- Large Ham:
- Last of His Kind: Literally for Draco; for Bowen, he was the only one who kept to the Old Code.
- Left Stuck After Attack: During their first fight, Draco uses his bladed tail against Bowen, which slices through a standing tree with ease, but when he bring it down on a fallen log, it has just enough give that it doesn't cut through, and his tail gets stuck.
- Light Is Not Good/Dark Is Not Evil: In a complete reversal of the standard, Einon's wardrobe is almost entirely white, and Bowen's is almost entirely black.
- Literal Change of Heart: Draco gives away half his heart, hoping to redeem the prince.
- The Magic Goes Away: Dragons are gone afer Draco's death.
- Matricide: After the tyrannical King Einon's mother tries to kill the dragon who provides Einon with immortality as long as their hearts are shared, he murders her without remorse to cement how evil he is.
- The Medic: The novelization gives Queen Aislinn this role. It's noted that Einon is annoyed by her frequent forays out into the villages to dispense healing herbs and minister to the sick, but as it doesn't really inconvenience him, he lets her do as she pleases.
- Mexican Standoff: Probably the only way they could do it between a man and a dragon. Draco tried to chew Bowen in self-defense, so Bowen grabbed his sword and embedded it in the roof of Draco's mouth. If either tried to make the finishing blow it would be suicide.
- The Middle Ages: The setting of this movie.
- Monster Protection Racket: Draco attacks villages and pretends to be killed by Bowen.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Draco's sacrifice heralds the arrival of a golden age for the kingdom.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Bowen doesn't want to kill Draco because he's the last of his kind. But whose fault is that, dragonslayer?
- Not to mention he was only killing dragons in the first place to kill Draco, thinking that it was his heart transplant that made Einon evil. Turns out Einon was a massive prick to begin with and parroted the teachings of the Old Code just to satisfy Bowen and be taught how to fight.
- Gilbert's well-aimed arrow to Einon's heart incapacitates Draco long enough for him to be captured.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Kara has difficulty wielding a huge poleaxe against Brok until he mockingly cuts the shaft in half, making it easier for her to use to kill him.
- Obviously Evil: So obvious for Einon that it's baffling how everyone saw it but Bowen.
- Offered the Crown: In both the ending narration and the novelization of the film, it's heavily implied that Bowen and Kara are named King and Queen after Einon's death.
- Offing the Offspring: Well, Queen Aislinn tries... that's the reason she hires the dragonslayers. She realizes that Einon will die if Draco does. Unfortunately for her, Einon figures it out too.
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Bowen the instructor vs Einon the evil monarch.
- Our Dragons Are Different: They're intelligent, can talk, seem capable of some magic, and though they're commonly hunted by humans, they're still expected to help them in order to ascend to their version of "Heaven." Also, they have tails that act like giant scissors, and they can only breathe fire through their nose (said fire tends to have explosive effects.)
- Palate Propping: Leads to a standoff with Bowen literally inside Draco's mouth.
- Playing Possum:
- In the novelization, Bowen does this in the training scene at the start, after falling off a wall.
- In the film, Einon does this briefly after falling down a flight of stairs.
- Produce Pelting: Kara's villagers do this to her when she tries to convince them to fight Einon.
- Promoted to Love Interest: Kara in the novelization.
- Recycled Trailer Music: The main theme has been recycled countless times in other movie trailers. If you don't recognize it right away, go to about 2:28 on that video. If you still don't recognize it, you probably haven't been to a movie theatre since 1996. It is frequently used for montages at the Academy Awards, possibly because the score was not even nominated the year the movie came out.
- Redemption Equals Death: According to Draco, a dragon must earn his place in the Dragons' Heaven. If they don't, then in Draco's own words, "our spirit disappears, as if we never were." By sharing his heart with Einon, he loses his place in the Heavens. But by sacrificing his life to stop Einon, he earns his place back, and becomes the brightest star in the Dragons' Heaven.
- Redemption in the Rain: Bowen renews his knightly vows in the pouring rain, kneeling before King Arthur himself.
- Redhead In Green: Kara.
- Requisite Royal Regalia: Our first hint of Einon's true nature is when he steals the crown from his dying father, who tries to hold onto it.
- Reverse Grip: Bowen holds his sword like this a few times.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Bowen believes that the dragonheart corrupted Einon, so he intends to kill every last one.
- Rousing Speech: Bowen gives one to the villagers.
- Same-Sex Triplets: Identical girls in Kara's home village.
- Sleep Cute: Draco is made of this trope.
- Scenery Porn: The landscape and castle are beautiful.
- Starring Special Effects: Draco.
- Stars Are Souls: Good dragons who die become a star in the Draco constellation. This happens to Draco when he dies.
Draco: To the stars, Bowen. To the stars.
- The Stoic/Stoic Woobie: Queen Aislinn, in the novelization. She seems to have developed this personality as a result of her forced marriage to a ruffian and the equally brutal kingship of her only child.
- Soul Jar: Draco. As long as he lives, so does Einon.
- Synchronization: Draco and Einon can feel each other's pain. Einon also lives as long as Draco does.
- Talking Animal: Draco.
- Thanks for the Mammary: Brother Gilbert to Kara when he jumps on a horse.
- That Man Is Dead: Kara speaks of a great knight she saw once. Bowen, the knight in question, responds that "that knight died of his wounds long ago."
- This Is My Name on Foreign: Kinda. Draco even replies that Bowen is just calling him "Dragon" in a different tongue instead of his own, but accepts the name because he finds an honor to be named after the constellation.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: Bowen, Draco, and Kara raise a peasant army.
- The Unreveal: Draco's real name, which supposedly can't be pronounced by humans anyway. He's about to say it but it devolves into a loud series of roars and him falling onto his back due to Kara stabbing Einon in the shoulder back at his castle.
- Virgin Sacrifice: When the people of Kara's village don't want to pay money to Bowen to drive Draco away, he suggests they offer one of these instead. Of course they pick the loudmouthed redhead who keeps trying to stir up rebellion.
- We Can Rule Together: Einon offers Kara to be his queen. Because she has no interest in marrying or bedding with her father's murderer, she refuses.
- You Killed My Father: Einon slaughters Kara's father right in front of her, inciting her endless hatred.
Dragonheart: A New Beginning provides examples of...
- A Boy and His X: A boy and his dragon.
- Action Girl: Lian, definitely.
- Award Bait Song: "My Heart Goes With You", sung by Rona Figueroa, the actress who plays Lian.
- Badass Princess: Lian.
- Breath Weapon: Fire and ice this time.
- Chekhov's Skill: Drake tries to learn the forgotten Dragon art of breathing ice, but fails. Naturally, he manages to pull it off at the climax.
- Color Me Black: This was attempted on the Big Bad prior to the events of the movie. It utterly failed, the dragon in human form is still bent on genocide.
- Conspicuous CG: Some of the worst spots are Drake's first flight, and the final battle, with the dragons being especially shiny and the way they're moving when compared with the rest of the movie.
- Covered in Mud: At one point, The Rival Roland trips and gets a face full of stable mud.
- A Dog Named Dog: "Drake" is a term meaning "(small) dragon", or certain (small) types of dragon.
- Dual Wielding: Both Roland and Osric fight with a sword in each hand at some point.
- Fan Disservice: Seeing a monk - even a supposedly teenage one - run around in nothing but underwear (which happens to look quite a bit like a diaper).
- Farts on Fire: While learning to breathe fire, Drake starts to lose control of it and turns away from the nearby village to avoid damaging anything. Unfortunately, it comes out the wrong end, and he destroys a building.
- Idiot Ball: Lian and Kwan are knowingly carrying around the heart of an extremely evil dragon. How did it not occur to them until Osric regained his true form that his heart, rather than Drake's, might possibly be the one in the prophecy?
- Intergenerational Friendship: Lian refers to Kwan as her loyal servant, her wise teacher, and her closest friend.
- Last of His Kind: Drake. Kinda.
- Leitmotif: The credits song, My Heart Goes With You, serves as Lian's. She even hums it at one point.
- Literally Shattered Lives: Drake kills Griffin by breathing ice on him instead of fire. Griffin falls to the ground and shatters. Unfortunately, one of the pieces impales Geoff.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Poor Kwan...
- Old Master: Kwan
- One-Winged Angel: Osric transforms into a dragon at the film's climax.
- Parasol of Pain: Master Kwan's weapon.
- Playing Possum: Done by Osric and his men in battle. Osric was pretending that he was dying and needed Drake's heart, but when Geoff realized that Osric wasn't wounded, then some of Osric's "dead" men jumped up and attacked.
- Renowned Selective Mentor: Geoff is trained by the king's advisor Osric. Osric claims it is because he's a natural and deserves special attention, but his real motive was to make Geoff eager for battle and to trust him in order to convince Drake to give up half his heart.
- The Rival: Roland is to Geoff, somewhat.
- Samus is a Girl: The first time Lian is seen, she is believed to be a boy; it is only a little while later that she is revealed to be a girl.
- Secret Test of Character: Kwan and Lian want to test Drake to see if it will be his heart that will cause the evil. Kwan claims that there's a way to learn all of the ancient dragon secrets instantly; Drake passes by refusing and deciding to learn naturally, year by year, from Kwan.
- Seven Deadly Sins: Used as a bit of a Running Gag.
Come on, don't say it like that, take some pride in being special! Mansel:
All right, I am
It's not like Pride
is one of those Seven Deadly Sins or anything. Mansel (stops walking and frowns)
: ...Actually, it is.
(Mansel is holding a whole armload of food) Geoff:
Hey, you have fun. 'Cause it's not like Gluttony
is on that seven deadly sin list too. (Mansel quickly sets down all the food and walks away)
- Surrounded by Idiots: "YOU are all INCOMPETENTS!"
- Taking the Bullet:
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works:
- Osric does this in battle.
- Geoff throwing his sword at Griffin in the climax.
- Waif-Fu: Lian uses this a couple times.
- We Can Rule Together: Once Osric becomes a dragon again, he calls Drake "brother" and invites him to destroy humanity together.
- You Have Failed Me: Stefan has served Osric loyally for years. One mistake, and he gets a dagger in his chest.
Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer's Curse provides examples of...