Follow TV Tropes


Film / Bright

Go To

Jakoby: I think we might be in a prophecy.
Ward: We're not in a prophecy, all right? We're in a stolen Toyota Corolla.

Bright is a 2017 crime/fantasy film directed by David Ayer and written by Max Landis. It stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace and Lucy Fry.

Set in an alternate present-day where humans, orcs, elves, and fairies have been co-existing since the beginning of time. Bright is a genre-bending action movie that follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Daryl Ward (Will Smith) and Nick Jakoby (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine patrol night and encounter a darkness that will ultimately alter the future and their world as they know it.

Instead of a theatrical release, the film was released on Netflix in December of 2017. The trailer is here.

Less than a month after its release, Netflix stated they were working on a sequel, but as of 2022 it is no longer in development. In 2021, it was announced that that Bright was getting an animated film spin off set in medieval Japan, Bright: Samurai Soul.


  • Aborted Arc:
    • Internal Affairs' plot to have Ward tape Jakoby confessing to get him expelled from the police is never mentioned again. Given that both are declared heroes at the end and awarded, they presumably backed off the idea.
    • At first, it looks as if the Shield of Light member whom Ward and Jakoby arrest will have a much larger role in the film. The first trailer also emphasizes this by having him clutch a flaming sword (which he never does). His extremist group does appear later if only to be killed off, but after his interrogation scene, he's never seen again.
  • Aerith and Bob: Dorghu, the leader of the Fogteeth clan, has a son named Mikey.
  • Afrofuturism: The film's use of fantasy tropes to comment on present-day racial issues makes it at least an attempt at the genre.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Orcish music sounds like heavy metal music, even their love songs. Nick tries to play some in the radio to bond with Ward, but he doesn't want to hear any of it. Later, orcs are seen in a violent thrash metal club, but are calm and relaxed as if they were in a smokey and romantic jazz/blues club.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • Jakoby is treated with scorn and disgust by his fellow cops because he's an orc. Even his own kind despise him, considering him a race traitor for becoming a cop and working with humans, who in turn generally work for elves. This in spite of the fact that Nick is an "unblooded" orc who, per orcish tradition, is an outcast with no obligation to any orc clan.
    • Nick's unblooded status is indicated by his filed-down teeth, as orc culture allows only blooded orcs to display tusks. Several orcs, like the chauffeur in Elftown, insult Nick by simply pointing to their own teeth.
    • Blooded status is apparently hereditary, given several bits of dialog and the fact that multiple orc children and teenagers are seen with unfiled teeth. This makes it all the more poignant when Nick gets blooded by Dorghu and the Fogteeth gang, as it means that the Jakoby family is honored with him. No wonder he briefly breaks into Manly Tears over it.
  • All There in the Manual: Netflix released a supplementary video detailing the backstory of magic, the wands, the Dark Lord's rising and the Brights in general. It also confirms the Dark Lord and Jirak were the very first Brights in existence.
  • Alien Blood: The fairy beaten up by Ward bleeds purple blood.
  • Alternate History: In this universe, humans have co-existed with fantastical creatures since the dawn of time and over two thousand years ago, a figure known as the Dark Lord nearly took over the world and it took the combined might of nine armies to bring him down. Apart from that major event, history seems to have followed more or less the same path. The Alamo and the LAPD's Rampart corruption scandal are specifically mentioned.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Tikka spends almost the entire run of the movie in a state of panic and terror...except when Ward and Jakoby take her to a strip club. Then she gets positively giddy and delighted at the sight of half-naked women writhing on stage. Jakoby exhibits shades of this, too, as some of his attempts to tease his partner while on patrol sound very much like genuine flirting. Ward even calls Jakoby out on Jakoby possibly being gay and Jakoby says nothing to deny it.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Shield of Light, an ancient order that fights to prevent the resurrection of the Dark Lord and believe that magic will be necessary to defeat him should he ever arise again.
  • Androcles' Lion: Jakoby helped a tagger escape, knowing he would have been made a fall guy for the attempted murder of a cop. He turns up later in the Fogteeth's HQ, and refuses to kill him. Subverted when his father understands, but simply sends his son away and then shoots Jakoby himself.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • When Ward tells Jakoby to just ask him for guidance and trust his advice, Jakoby points out the hypocrisy of the statement by asking why he is supposed to have total trust in someone that doesn't trust him.
    • Ward gets a humorous one in when criticizing the Fantastic Racism of Pollard and the other cops in his unit: "How is it that a bunch of dumbasses who can't remember their baby-mommas' birthdays still have a hard on for some shit that happened two thousand years ago?"
  • The Artifact:
    • In the initial drafts of the script, Ward was estranged from his wife and daughter, and that's the reason Jakoby tells him he's lacking in love in the car. Along the lines it was changed so that Ward has a happy marriage, but the line was still left in.
    • Some of Tikka's behaviour is a holdover from when she was a child in early drafts.
  • Artifact of Doom: Magical Wands are weapons of mass destruction that presumably have unlimited power in the hands of a Bright (a person able to wield magic). It also kills any non-Bright that tries to touch it. How powerful are they? Tikka, who still is only a novice in their use, uses it to bring Jakoby back from the dead.
  • Asshole Victim: Played with the corrupt cops that try to kill Ward, Jakoby, and Tikka, when they are gunned down by Ward in self-defense, with Jakoby, having no clue what's going on, sticking to the book and trying to arrest Ward despite how horribly the shot cops had treated Nick in the past. Pollard survives long enough for Leilah's arrival, and unfortunately for him she's there to kill all witnesses. Messily. With that said, in order to protect Ward and Jakoby, the feds concoct a cover story where the slain corrupt cops died fighting an extremist group, thus ensuring that they go down as heroes, much to Ward's disgust, as they are posthumously honored alongside Rodriguez, who was a good cop.
    • Also the gangsters who get massacred by the Inferni. Yeah they were jerks, but shoot that was a hard way to go.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Much in the vein of Ayers' other films like Training Day, Street Kings, Harsh Times and End of Watch, this film takes place in the world of cops and gangsters of modern Los Angeles.
    • Writer Max Landis is a noted fan of fantasy/sci-fi themes. He also slips in oblique references to the Orcs being like Jews in addition to the much more obvious African-American allegory.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Ward and Jakoby have a pretty tense relationship from the get go, despite being Partners in the LAPD. Ward tolerates his presence, but holds some pretty deep racism against Orcs, and/or is really fed up with being partnered with a guy who makes him a target. However, as they work to survive the events of the film, signs of them beginning to trust and respect each other show through.
    • Ward was apparently willing to go along with the Internal Affairs plot to disgrace Jakoby until Jakoby comes clean about how he let a suspect escape.
    • Ward ends up single-handedly saving Jakoby (and himself and Tikka) from a group of corrupt cops who were plotting to steal the magic wand and murder the protagonist trio in order to leave no witnesses.
    • Nick saves Ward at numerous points in the film, mostly toward the end, where he shoots Leilah as she was about to kill Ward, and then risks his life by running into a burning building to save Ward.
    • Their Snark-to-Snark Combat throughout the film shows signs of them getting to like one another.
    • The one to take the cake is possibly when Jakoby is briefly murdered by Dorghu. Ward appears absolutely mortified, and then begins daring his killer to shoot him too, spewing out any Orcish insult he can think of. Thankfully, due to magic, Jakoby is resurrected before he fires.
  • Badass Boast: When Ward has his gun trained on Jakoby, daring him to draw his sidearm and threatening to kill him.
    Ward: I will fuck you up in a gunfight!
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: According to supplementary backstory, Pharaoh Khufu and Sargon the Great of Akkad were both magicians with the former using his powers to build the Egyptian pyramids and the latter transcended mortality and that the Wands were forged out of his body from his executioner, the Dark Lord.
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the bad side, the dirty cops are honored as heroes and despite his heroism, Jakoby is still viewed with scorn from most of the public. On the good side, Tikka turns out to be alive, Jakoby is accepted by his orc brethren, and he and Ward have a closer relationship and are also honoured as heroes.
  • Black Speech: Orcish, following the usual Tolkien tradition. Played for Laughs when Jakoby plays what he calls one of the greatest love songs ever written, despite the fact that the actual song playing is, in real life, "Hammer Smashed Face" by Cannibal Corpse.
  • Big Bad: Leilah, the elvish Bright and Inferni leader who had intended to use the wand that was taken from her as one of three needed to bring the Dark Lord back to life.
  • Big Good: Agent Kandomere is the closest thing we have in the story as a federal agent that has been hunting Leilah for twenty years and he is the only one that can protect Ward and Jakoby, who spend the entire movie trying to keep the wand safe, not knowing who they can trust. He actually seems skeptical of the Dark Lord's return, but nonetheless goes after the Inferni as a mass-murdering terrorist group.
  • Body Horror: In the warehouse where Tikka is hiding, there's an elf who's been fused to the wall, her torso completely gone, yet still alive.
  • Book Ends:
    • The movie begins and ends with a fairy's appearance.
    • The climax also takes place inside the warehouse where Ward and Jakoby found Tikka.
  • Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Nick Jakoby is the first orc police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department.
  • Broken Aesop: Some critics have taken issue for the story's heavy-handed "Racism is Bad" message, but while the Orcs are depicted as Not Evil, Just Misunderstood and Dark Is Not Evil, it has a huge in-universe Screw You, Elves! mentality in how elves are widely hated by most of the humans for being rich Kardashian types obsessed with shopping in the Beverly Hills Expy, but is not presented as a bad thing like the Orcs. Either rendering it a confused metaphor for the upper class or the writers unintentionally invoking a Double Standard which is compounded by how they're presented as more feminine compared to the rugged, stoic orcs and humans.
  • Buffy Speak: Ward's report to Sergeant Ching regarding the wand:
    Ward: As far as we can tell, a Bright came in, used the wand... uh, magicked everybody the fuck up.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Surrounded by orc gangsters, Ward has the balls to go up to one of them and compare him to Shrek, then doubles down by telling Nick to translate that into Orcish. Nick, on the other hand, just looks down and quietly says that they speak English. Expectedly, Ward gets his ass kicked by all of them.
  • Cain and Abel: Leilah and Tikka, respectively. The former sent an assassin to kill the latter when she deserts their group and tries one last time to bring her back during the climax. Tikka instead tells her to Get It Over With and just kill her already, which Leilah tries to do before Ward stops her.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Dark Lord is referred as such even by his devoted followers.
  • The Cameo: Joe Rogan and his podcast show make a brief appearance at the start, interviewing an Orc spokesman who considers Jakoby a Category Traitor for joining the LAPD.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Elves are shown as being rich and glamorous. Their neighborhood in LA is the nicest and most affluent, with police checkpoints at all entrances to keep "undesirables" (mostly orcs, though humans are evidently also considered riffraff) out. They're also said to control the majority of the government and produce far more magic users than any other race. To quote Ward, in Elftown "Even the [Orc] chauffeurs are snobs."
  • Category Traitor: Most of the orc population of LA looks at Jakoby with contempt for joining the police.
  • The Cavalry: When Ward and Jakoby start investigating a crime scene, Jakoby asks if they should wait for the cavalry. Ward replies that they are the cavalry.
  • Character Tics: Tikka often jumps, slides, and swings around Parkour-style when running, even when there’s no particular reason to. Even when not running, she often climbs on anything nearby. Ward quickly gets tired of it, telling her to sit her crazy ass down for a second.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The young orc boy that Jakoby saves from the police turns out to be the son of the Fogtooth gang's leader, and when asked by his father to kill Jakoby, the orc boy refuses for this reason.
  • Children Are Innocent: Though she repeats some prejudiced comments from her mother, Ward's daughter Sophia is very friendly to Jakoby, and even admonishes her father for yelling at him.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The wand glows an with an incandescent blue-white light when its magic is activated or when it is wielded by an elf Bright, but it glows red when wielded by a human Bright.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Magical Wands have seemingly unlimited potential. It has been used to strip enemies to the bone, create money out of thin air, resurrect the dead, heal ailments and assuming Pollard isn't exaggerating when describing their power, it's likely possible to travel back in time with it.
  • Conlang: David J. Peterson created languages and scripts for the languages the elves and the orcs use in the movie. The elvish language is called Övüsi, and orcish is Bodzvokhan.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The Shield of Light member, when interviewed by the MTF, points out how it's a "strange coincidence" that elves, who produce the most brights and thus are more able to wield magic, happen to also be largely rich, successful, influential, and generally rule the world and aren't held accountable for the actions of the Dark Lord or the Inferni, contrasting the way orcs are looked at. It's never outright said, but it seems heavily implied that elves use magic to ensure this status quo in order to maintain control.
  • Cop Killer: Plenty to go around; Leilah and her sidekicks. Officer Ward is one too, but he did it in self-defense and his victims were all corrupt cops.
  • Crapsack World: The city of Los Angeles is a crime-ridden hellhole wracked with both regular and Fantastic Racism full of violent human and orcish gangs, corrupt cops, Police Brutality, and poverty. The establishing shot of the LA skyline sums it up: glittering skyscrapers downtown (with the tallest and fanciest being in Elftown, behind machine gun-equipped checkpoints with "Elves Only" signs) while smoke from numerous structure fires rises from the less-affluent (and predominantly orcish) neighborhoods. Played with, as it is implied that the rest of the world is nowhere near as bad, as an orc describes Miami as a place where humans, orcs, and dwarves get along pretty well.
    • Crime is much higher in this universe than in ours. The LAPD ride around in MRAP vehicles with .50-caliber machine guns on top like they're in a warzone, and even the regular patrol cars have bulletproof windows.
  • Dark Action Girl: Leilah, and her sidekick Tien.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Of Legolas type super-elves. Turns out having a race of such beings in real life would be completely horrifying for a multitude of reasons: their incredible physical abilities make them nigh-impossible to kill (though it's unclear how much of the villains' martial prowess is pure elvishness and how much is their affiliation with the Inferni), their magical prowess makes the average one akin to a super-weapon if they get a Wand, and their total superiority to all races makes them sociopathically immoral with the vast majority of them openly controlling society.
    • Also of beauty equaling goodness, or at least people tending to believe such. The Dark Lord was an incredibly evil elf heading an army of mostly orcs, against some other orcs mixed with the other races. This could have resulted in elves being hated, and orcs being viewed neutrally. But elves are beautiful and orcs are ugly, which amplifies the issue of elven physical superiority, so the ultimate result is that orcs are viewed as the villains while the elves rule the world. Made more blatant by the hero who rallied the joint resistance against the Dark Lord having been an orc. And yet this does not seem to buy his race any credibility.
  • Den of Iniquity: The various clubs the characters stumble through, full of coke sniffing gangsters and strippers.
  • Dirty Cop: All over the LAPD, with many of them acting as obstacles to our protagonists. Ward is forced to gun down four of them, including his watch sergeant, after they plot to steal the wand and murder Ward, Jakoby, and Tikka in the process.
    Ward: Half of this division is in on some old-school Rampart shit!
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The plight of orcs parallels the experience of almost every ethnic minority in America in some way or other.
    • An urban US setting in which one race is openly discriminated against, gets the crummy jobs at best, has developed a gang culture in response and is subject to extreme violence by the police? What could that stand for?
    • Also, an ethnic group getting hated on for the actions of some members two thousand years ago. There is also the fact, they endured persecution and extermination for centuries as well, since Pollard boasts that his ancestors killed orcs by the thousands in Russia (mirroring real-life pogroms).
    • Orcs speak English as their first language but still maintain fluency in Orcish, using it for discreet conversation or when they want to spite an anglophone (human) cop. In inner-city California, this obviously mirrors a lot of hispanic neighborhoods, but can easily draw comparison with almost any immigrant population.
    • If the fact that the Elven district of LA is walled off with armed guards, and even Ward, a police officer, is trepidatious about just passing through there as a shortcut to get to the precinct, is taken into consideration, you could easily argue that enforced racial segregation in this city is still around to some degree.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Multiple times, mostly when the Inferni are on screen.
  • Dungeon Punk: We've got orcs and elves, dragons and fairies, all coexisting in a cynical modern-day setting where magic works. The only genre hallmark this movie doesn't have is Magitek.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Pretty much the only sympathetic moment Leilah has in the movie is when she tries to convince Tikka to return to the Inferni... because she is her sister. She even rants and screams at Ward, convinced the human must have somehow corrupted her. Subverted in the next scene, when she remorselessly threatens to kill her if Ward doesn't return her wand.
    • Poison, the Altamira shot caller, mentions he wants to "make love" (as opposed to just fuck) his old lady again.
    • Dorghu, the Fogteeth gang leader, treats his son with nothing but pride, and respects his decision not to kill Jakoby (who had saved his life), rather than blindly follow orders.
  • Evil Cripple: Poison, complete with wheelchair and colostomy bag. He hates this so much he is more than willing to risk magically exploding if there's even the slightest chance it will get him out of the chair.
  • Evil Overlord: The Dark Lord, a powerful elven renegade who tried to use magic to Take Over the World two thousand years before the events of the movie.
  • The Fair Folk: Leilah and her associates embody all the worst and most monstrous traits associated with elves. And the Dark Lord himself is said to be so much worse. Really at best, elves as a whole are viewed as arrogant and privileged twits that not even humans can stand.
  • Fantastic Noir: The film is a crime-thriller with fantasy creatures in co-existence with society, including both sides of the law.
  • Fantastic Nuke: Jakoby outright compares the Magic Wand to a nuclear weapon. He says that just one wand in the wrong hands would result in "all of L.A. on fire."
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Most races look down on orcs as violent or untrustworthy, to the point that Jakoby is the first orc cop. This is because most orcs once sided with the Dark Lord, a Sauron-style Elvish overlord that tried to conquer the world two thousand years ago. Although most races seem to forget it was an orc who led the nine races to defeat the Dark Lord.
    • Ward beats a fairy with a broom because it was eating from his bird feeder, though the casualness with which he does so indicates fairies are not considered a sapient species in this universe. Several ads for pest control services offering fairy removal are prominently posted around the city.
    • Elves are despised by human and orc alike for being influential, rich and having more Brights than any species in the world. Their haughty, supremacist attitude towards the other races doesn't do them any favors, either. The LAPD visibly includes humans and centaurs, but elves seem to regard being a street cop as beneath them. Even Agent Kandomere, who heads an FBI task force, is implied to be very unusual as an elf in law enforcement.
      Ward: Just a bunch of rich-ass elves running the world and shopping.
    • There's plenty of real-world racism as well. Deputy Rodriguez responds to Nick's complaint about anti-orc prejudice with, "Hey, man, Mexicans still get shit for the fuckin' Alamo!"
  • Fantastic Slur: "Pigskin" seems to be the N-word equivalent for orcs.
    • With "Puerco" being the Spanish equivalent.
  • Fantastic Underclass: Orcs fill the role of a societal underclass, facing discrimination from other species and largely living in impoverished neighborhoods and ghettos.
  • Fantastic Vermin: Fairies are urban pests of animal intelligence, acting much like aggressive birds.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Religion: Orcish religion has traits of both Christianity and European pagan faiths since they worship a Messianic Archetype that saved the world and their priests dress themselves like druids, respectively. It's unknown if traditional religions like Christianity and Islam exist in this universe, though multiple exclamations of "Jesus Christ!" suggest that some form of Christianity, at least, probably exists.
  • Flaming Sword: Very briefly seen in the trailer, wielded by a human.
  • Foreshadowing: The crazy Shield of Light member rambles that Ward is blessed. He identifies him as a Bright.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Dorghu, head of the Fogteeth gang, was a bus driver before he moved to LA and took over.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • While Ward and Jakoby are preparing to fight a horde of Gangbangers coming for the Wand at a strip club, behind them Tikka is busy staring at the strippers with an extremely happy look on her face.
    • Before that, there's a shot of the L.A. skyline at night... with a freaking dragon the size of a 747 lazily cruising around above it. No-one so much as mentions dragons throughout the movie, which raises the question of just how common and dangerous they are.
    • During the civil disobedience scene, a centaur can be seen on the shield line, complete in LAPD riot gear.
    • Anti-orc graffiti is prominently visible in the quicky mart bathroom. One graffito in between Ward and Jakoby reads, "'I Love Orcs' -Nobody."
  • Genre-Busting: Urban fantasy crime action thriller with a side of contemporary political allegory and buddy cop movie.
  • Good Parents:
    • For all his racism against non-humans (but mostly towards orcs), Ward tries to teach his daughter to not share his bigoted viewpoints. While he falls short of the standard himself, at least he tries and his little girl certainly doesn't.
    • The orc gangleader doesn't get mad at his son nor is he in the least bit disappointed in him for not being able to pull the trigger on Jakoby because Jakoby helped him escape to save him from taking the fall for the orc that shot Ward.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Federal agents Kandomere and Montehugh work for the United States Department of Magic as part of the specialised Magic Task Force (MTF).
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: Jirak, the orc that led The Alliance against the Dark Lord. Several graffiti show that some orcs revere him in modern times, despite the fact they are second-class citizens at best. Jakoby looks up to him and recites his legend in order to convince Ward to save Tikka's life.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Dark Lord. He is responsible for the racism that modern orcs face today since many of their ancestors chose to fight for him, which led to many of them being hated and discriminated by everyone else. He is long dead by the time the movie takes place, but many people such as the Shield of Light fear his return, since it's believed that not even the most advanced modern weaponry could be able to bring him down.
    • If he did come back, he would most likely command an army with comparable modern armament that could easily match the US military, if not every military forces in the world combined. Given that he’s an Expy of Sauron, no matter how many casualties his forces were to suffer, the Dark Lord himself would be vulnerable only to weaponized magic and lots of it.
  • Grenade Tag: Jakoby deals with one of Leilah's minions by sticking an IED (that Ward had previously grabbed from the Shield of Light’s stash of guns) in her waistband, then shoving her out a window before Ward triggers it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Attempted towards the end of the movie when Ward grabs the wand expecting to explode him and take Leilah down with him. Turns out no self-sacrifice is required since he is a Bright and manages to use the wand to dispatch Leilah.
  • Homage: A Dark Lord graffiti depicts him as a white-haired elf similar to a range of characters from fantasy media, including Elric of Melnibone, Mannimarco, or Sauron's Annatar Lord of Gifts form.
  • Horned Humanoid: The orc priest wears a mask made up of a deer skull and antlers, giving him the appearance of this trope.
  • Hufflepuff House: Only humans, elves and orcs play an active role in this movie, but centaur cops can be seen in the background in some scenes, a crosswalk sign at the beginning is shown with a lizard-man silhouette, and the dwarves are mentioned as having a thriving community in Miami. Further, since the alliance that defeated the Dark Lord two thousand years ago was made up of nine races, and assuming that included some orcs who didn't fight on the Dark Lord's side, there are by implication three other sapient races unaccounted for who exist but don't play a role in the story.
  • The Illuminati: When Ward flippantly calls the Inferni "Elf Illuminati," Tikka corrects him by saying the Inferni massacred the Illuminati a hundred years ago.
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Jakoby says it's OK if Ward doesn't like him (presumably due to Fantastic Racism, above), and Ward replies with this almost verbatim.
    Jakoby: Are we friends?
    Ward: I think we should spend our time just trying to survive this shit.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Jakoby nails Serafin to the wall with a chunk of pipe from a foosball table. It doesn't take.
  • Implacable Man: Leilah and her two goons need a lot of firepower to be brought down, with Leilah herself catching a second wind after being shot twice by Jakoby.
  • Informed Attribute: The Magic Wand is said to be able to grant any wish, but since the only people who use it are very inexperienced we're never shown how it does this exactly, or in fact see it do anything besides blowing people up. The wand clearly has limitations, and the general lack of experience with them that most characters display suggests that a fair amounts of the claims made about it are urban legends.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Even though magic exists and non-human sapient species share the world with humanity, human history and technology seem to have progressed along more or less the exact same lines as in the real world. A line from Deputy Rodriguez indicates that even the events of the Alamo still somehow occurred. Taken to an extreme when Ward makes a crack about Shrek to an Orc, which begs the question of why a movie like Shrek would exist in a world where the various fairy tale creatures it references are actually real.
  • Interspecies Romance: Any glance at the background characters makes it obvious that the different races (humans, orcs, elves) getting it on with each other is a pretty everyday sight.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ward. He is bigoted against non-humans, but is shown to be a caring family man and even defend Nick from his racist co-workers, despite nurturing resentment towards him.
  • Karma Houdini: The orc that shot Ward before the start of the movie. He's never caught.
  • Kick the Dog: Leilah and her cohorts slaughter an innocent Mexican family to leave no witnesses, including their baby just to show how amoral and uncaring they are towards humans.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Pollard was a racist and bigoted corrupt cop who ends up getting shot multiple times by Ward and is left to writhe in agony before he's finally finished off by Leilah, who casually slits his throat. Poison was a racist and bigoted handicapped gangbanger who antagonizes our heroes for a while before Leilah arrives on the scene and shows him who the real Big Bad is, her knife skills making very quick work of him.
  • Kneel Before Frodo: After Jakoby is revived, the rest of the orcs who were previously demeaning him bow respectfully, recognizing him as their next hero.
  • Language Fluency Denial: Tikka spends half the movie pretending she doesn't understand or speak English until she decides she can trust Ward and Jakoby. Luckily Jakoby took two years of Elvish in high school.
  • Language of Magic: The Wand requires speaking Elvish words to cast spells. Vykwarus for example is capable of reducing a person to a charred skeleton.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Near the beginning of the film, Pollard and his fellow corrupt officers plot to have Ward and Jakoby killed, and cover up the circumstances of their deaths by claiming they died as heroes. However, Ward kills them all first, and in order to cover up the events surrounding the wand, the MTF creates a cover story claiming Pollard and the other corrupt officers died heroically fighting terrorists.
  • Leno Device: Early in the film, Daryl is shown watching an ork being interviewed on the Joe Rogan podcast who denounces his ork partner Nick.
  • Living Lie Detector: Orcs can tell when someone is lying to them thanks to their incredibly heightened sense of smell. Jakoby points this out when Ward criticizes him for his lack of trust, pointing out that it's hard for him to trust someone who so clearly does not trust him.
  • Lizard Folk: While none physically seen in the film, a crossing sign in the opening montage has a person with a distinctly reptilian head and tail, implying that they exist in this world in some capacity. A woman in the strip club is also shown to have nictitating membranes in their eyes, a common indicator of reptilian humanoids in conspiracy theory literature.
  • Loyal Phlebotinum: The wand has a binding spell cast on it which will prevent it from being taken too far from its owner. When Ward and Jakoby try to drive out of the area, it creates an invisible barrier which totals their police SUV.
  • MacGuffin: The Magic Wand that everyone in the movie is trying to get their hands on.
    Jakoby: It's like a nuclear weapon that grants wishes.
  • Magic Wand: The entire story revolves around a vicious fight to gain control of a powerful wand that is found with a young elf. Just one, in the hands of a Bright, is compared to a nuke. Three would enable the resurrection of the Dark Lord.
  • Messianic Archetype: Both Jirak and the Dark Lord fit this in different ways.
    • Jirak is the orc equivalent of Jesus Christ, as he shares the same first initial, also lived 2000 years ago and saved the world from the Evil Overlord in this setting. He is the subject of worship in Orc religion, and orcs partly correspond to real-life Jews, since they have been long discriminated against and accused of betraying Jesus, even though he was Jewish himself, much like orcs are hated for siding with the Dark Lord when it was an orc that united other races to oppose him.
    • The Dark Lord, on the other hand, is the Dark Messiah mostly towards the Inferni - renegade elves that seek to revive him so he could complete his conquest of Earth. Leilah even refers to herself as his "priestess". It's shown that some orcs still revere him if his graffiti pictures in the prologue are any indication.
    • Jakoby is implied to be one. When he's brought back from the dead the priest says "He is risen", the other orcs kneel before him, and he's part of a major prophecy that he has yet to fulfill.
  • Moral Myopia: The orcs are treated like pariahs because their ancestors sided with the Dark Lord two millennia ago. Meanwhile, the elves get to be treated like a privileged class despite the Dark Lord being an elf himself. The fact that an orc himself rose up against him doesn't even make the irony clear to anyone else. And nevermind that it's a sect of elves that are trying to bring him back.
  • Mysterious Waif: The plot of the movie is kicked off when Ward and Jakoby investigate a crime scene to find a young elf named Tikka with a Magic Wand.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: The Orc Gang leader, all he wants is that there be peace between the races, hosting a big party where everyone has a good time, until the police came and wrecked things. He even Bloods Jakoby at the end.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Jakoby through and through. Best shown when he helped an orc teen that's only tagging from taking the blame for the one that shot Ward.
    • Tikka herself qualifies as the only elf that isn't arrogant and pompous or just straight up evil.
  • No True Scotsman: Agent Kandomere makes a comment calling the Inferni "renegade elves", to which the human he's interrogating snarks that of course he makes that distinction. Because regular elves are just universally awesome.
  • Noble Bigot: The MTF agents express their disgust at seeing Jakoby, an orc police officer. That said, they do help out Ward and Jakoby, even covering up that Ward had to kill four police officers, in self-defense. Ward himself isn't quite above it either - while he tries to teach his daughter that all races are equal and everyone just wants to live their own life, he actively tries to get out of being partnered with Jakoby and repeatedly insults him by wondering whether he'll have his back when they're up against other orcs.
  • Noble Demon: The orc gang leader, despite being, well, a gang leader, tries his best to create peace between the different races.
  • No Name Given: Leilah's goons (Tien and Serafin) and the two MTF agents (Kandomere and Montehugh) are named only in the credits.
  • Not So Stoic: Leilah hardly has any facial expression for most of the film. Up until the end, where she starts moaning when Tikka, her sister, refuses to join the Inferni. She then angrily blames Ward and Jakoby for "ruining her."
  • The Nose Knows: Orcs have a greater sense of smell than most other species. So good that Jakoby was able to tell the difference between two different orcs based on smell alone, and he can just tell that "something bad" happened to Ward at the station when he wasn't there (presumably the scent of sweat and adrenaline).
  • Obviously Evil: The two Internal Affairs detectives are obscenely Smug Snake pricks even before either of them says a word. They only get worse when they start talking.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ward and Jakoby when they find Larika fused to a wall. Ward immediately gets on the radio to report a possible magic-user and request backup. Even more so when they find a Magic Wand with Tikka.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: When the Dark Lord tried to conquer the world, most of the orcs sided with him. The other races still hold it against them, despite the fact that this happened two thousand years ago. Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you remember it's probably thanks to the long-lived and supremely petty Elves that are responsible for this attitude.
  • One-Man Army: Elves aligned with the Inferni are super-strong, super-fast, highly acrobatic and skilled fighters that manage to slaughter entire groups of enemies without breaking a sweat. Leilah and her Co-Dragons display this when they kill Poison's gangbangers effortlessly when both Ward and Jakoby have been trying to evade them rather than fight them off. Leilah herself personally kills several SWAT members in less than a minute. It is unknown if this is the natural capability of an elf, or if it's due to their associations with the Inferni. No other elves are seen in combat, unless any of the fully-masked and helmeted SWAT cops and FBI agents happen to be elves.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield:
    • A Wand can only be used by a Bright. Anyone else that tries to touch it directly explodes into a cloud of dust and ash, taking those nearby with them. This area of effect is a plot point during the climactic fight when Ward is willing to take out everyone else to kill Leilah because she's going to kill them all anyway.
    • Serling, the Shield of Light member, claims that the only way to know if you're a Bright or not is to pick up a wand and see if you die or not. Presumably there are other means of detection - Serling himself seems to have some idea that Ward is a Bright well before Ward finds out himself, and Ward's exceptional speed and skill when shooting seem to foreshadow the reveal - but most people would never have access to them.
  • Our Elves Are Different: Long-lived, supremacist snobs that live in gated communities and are considered the elite of society due to having the majority of Brights in the world. At first glance, they look just like normal humans with Pointy Ears, but upon closer inspection it turns out they have sharp teeth and eyes and hair of unnatural color, such as Kandomere's blue hair while Tikka, Leila and Tien had silver hair.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Fairies in this universe don't appear to be sentient; despite being humanoid, their appearance and behavior is shown to be animal-like, with feathers all over their bodies, sharp teeth and an apparent inability to speak. They're treated as pests by most people as well, with Ward's wife asking him to kill one when it gets in their birdfeeder and a few ads for pest control specializing in getting rid of them.
  • Our Mages Are Different: A "Bright" is a person born with an affinity for magic, and can freely handle wands without exploding (which happens to everyone else who tries). Almost all Brights are elves, which has led to their species winding up in positions of power, though it is mentioned a very small number of humans ("one-in-a-million") are also Brights. Near the end of the movie, Ward is revealed to be a Bright, as he handles a wand without exploding, and even manages to cast a spell.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Overall, Orcs are pretty normal people for all of their racial differences. They maintain some vestiges of being a Proud Warrior Race, with the idea of being "blooded" having a central role in their society. They have intelligence roughly on par with humans, though they're stereotyped as dumb, and Jakoby is frequently shown to be very slow on the uptake. They are apparently larger, heavier, stronger (one orc is shown fairly casually lifting the front end of a pickup truck so a child can retrieve a soccer ball from beneath it) and slower than humans on average (an IA detective mentions that this is why most NFL linemen are orcs, but there are no orcs in the NBA), and Jakoby exhibits some extraordinary toughness. They are extremely clannish and generally discriminated against by other races making them second-class citizens in the wider society.
  • Plot Armor: Leilah and her lieutenants massacre an army of gangsters in seconds, then do the same to a SWAT team. Somehow they can't seem to manage such a display of effortless murder against the two or three protagonists, either in the convenience store fight (where at least Tikka provided assistance (or in the final battle where they are outright defeated (despite Tikka being pretty much down for the count).
  • Police Brutality:
    • A half-dozen human LAPD officers (supervised by a centaur) give a vicious Rodney King-style beating to an unarmed orc with his hands up. This happens on a sidewalk, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses, including the orc's wife and child, and nobody bats an eye. It ain't easy being an orc in LA.
    • MTF agent Montehugh has no problem roughing up a Shield of Light member to get him to talk.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Ward is one of the main protagonists, but he is heavily prejudiced against non-humans in general; he dislikes orcs despite his partner being one and always being nice to him, considers fairies sub-human and is disdainful towards elves. Though, to be fair, all of these beliefs are pretty standard for the setting.
  • Power at a Price: Subverted; most of the time using the wand has no price. When used too much it loses its glow for a while and has to recharge, but that's it. However, resurrecting someone causes a serious backlash on the Bright using the wand, and they will die if they don't get treatment from people experienced with magic.
  • Power Glows: The wand glows with a blinding blue-white light during most of the movie. When wielded by a human Bright that glow turns red.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Jakoby is a more subtle example of this than most. He's a nice, even dorky guy, but his eagerness to die if it means he dies a heroic cop shows that underneath the goofy nerd is someone who fundamentally believes in his people's warrior philosophy.
  • Prophetic Names: 'To ward' is to protect or guard something. Ward protects Tikka, the wand, is grudgingly protective of Jakoby and was possibly prophesized to protect the world from the Dark Lord's return.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer:
    • The orc gang leader believes this to some degree. They revere being "blooded" above all other honors, which can involve slaying an enemy, but also nonviolent actions like standing up to torture or risking your life to save a comrade (the courage of the act is what's important).
    • Averted by Jakoby, who is quite distressed when he has to shoot and kill one of the Mexican gang members in self-defense.
  • Recycled In Space:
    • Alien Nation... WITH FANTASY CREATURES!
  • Schmuck Bait: The Magic Wand kills anyone who touches it if they're not a Bright (and it seems like the odds of being a Bright are one in a million or worse for humans). Naturally, the first thing anyone who sees it wants to do is try to pick it up, in the hope they might beat the odds and gain limitless power.
  • Screw You, Elves!: It's pretty clear in-universe that some characters such as Ward don't have a high opinion about elves and how they run the Earth, sort of like their version of Eat the Rich.
  • Seeks Another's Resurrection: The Inferni seek to resurrect the Dark Lord.
  • Selective Obliviousness: The other races are very quick to condemn the orcs as the followers of the Dark Lord, but seem to regularly forget the fact that not only were there a number of elves who did the same thing, but that the Dark Lord himself was an elf. They also seem to forget the detail that it was an orc who united the races, and led them against the Dark Lord.
  • Seriously Scruffy: Montehugh, especially in comparison to Kandomere, his elven superior in the MTF.
  • She-Fu: All elves who are shown fighting, many of them female, fight like they've got even more than the normal +2 racial bonus to Dexterity.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During the intro, there's graffiti stating "IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED ALL RACES EQUAL" with "but elves are more equal" below it.
    • Daryl Ward compares an orc to Shrek as an insult, uttering the line: "So I need you to take your fat Shrek-looking ass back to your vehicle and drive the fuck home to Fiona. A'ight?"
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Because most of their ancestors sided with the Dark Lord, most orcs are seen as lesser, if not evil.
  • Space Jews: The orcs seem like an amalgamation of several real-life minorities: at first glance, they appear to be parallel with African-Americans due to racial tensions, but their backstory is also similar to the discrimination faced by Jews in the past, while their faith is similar to Celtic/Viking pagan religions.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • This film has many similarities with the cyberpunk tabletop game Shadowrun and the 1988 sci-fi Buddy Cop Show film Alien Nation.
    • Could be seen as one for the HBO Made-for-TV Movie Cast a Deadly Spell, which is similarly a gritty crime drama that also takes place in an alternate version of Los Angeles where magic and fantasy elements are commonplace, set in the 1950's.
  • Standard Fantasy Races: The movie takes the standard fantasy races and puts them in a modern Urban Fantasy setting, with a lot of Fantastic Racism. Humans are the most mundane and most numerous ones, and have within-species racism, such as Americans disliking Mexicans. Elves are the snobbish elite who look down on the other races, whereas orcs are mostly lower class and form urban gangs. Orcs also get the most hate from other races due to being the mooks of The Dark Lord back when the world was a Standard Fantasy Setting (despite the fact that the Dark Lord was an elf and the hero who defeated him was an orc). Fairies are common, non-sapient pests; a human killing one is seen as disturbing, but not a crime. There are references to "the nine races", suggesting that other stock fantasy races also exist.
  • Stripped to the Bone: One of the wand's spells can reduce people to ash while leaving their glowing skeleton behind. Ward and Jakoby find several bodies in this state when they first stumble upon Tikka. This ends up being how Leilah is killed in the final battle.
  • Super-Strength: Orcs and elves both have it, being able to casually toss people across a room. Early in the movie, an adult orc is seen lifting a pick-up truck off the ground, by the front... so that an orc child can reclaim their football.
  • Superior Species: The elves. They are all impossibly beautiful, stronger than humans and are pretty much the only ones able to wield magical WMDs. They don't even subject themselves to jobs that "lesser" races can perform, since one federal agent notes that seeing an orc as a cop is as rare as seeing an elf as a janitor.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • The Shield of Light may be all about safeguarding good magic users for the return of the Dark Lord... but if you're an underground society that stockpiles weapons and explosives, not to mention fooling around with magic that is explicitly compared to nuclear weapons, the government is going to slap a "Terrorist Organization" label on you. They're not necessarily wrong, either, given the collateral damage that ensues when the Shield of Light clash with the Inferni (who also happen to be the FBI's Most Wanted).
    • Rather than admit that the Dark Lord is coming and a wand was on the loose in L.A., the government covers up everything, takes the wand, and paints all the cops involved (including the corrupt ones, much to Ward's disgust) as heroes who died fighting an "extremist group". Better to keep The Masquerade intact and a potential magical WMD under wraps than cause mass panic, after all.
    • Look closely at Ward and Jakoby's medal ceremony. The crowd is silent during Jakoby's crowning but not at Ward's. Despite doing the same heroic actions as his partner, many people are still going to see Jakoby as another violent Orc not worthy of respect.
  • Take That!: Ward's neighbors encourage him (possibly sarcastically) to kill a fairy "L.A.P.D. style".
  • This Cannot Be!: Leilah says, "This is impossible!" when it turns out Ward is also a Bright and can wield the Wand.
  • Token Heroic Orc:
    • Jakoby is the first and only orc police officer in the LAPD in a world where many of his kind are criminals.
    • Two thousand years ago, the Dark Lord led an army of orcs in an attempt to conquer the world. Jirak was one of the few orcs who opposed him, and eventually wound up leading an army of nine races against him. This is curiously ignored by the other races, however, given how they seem to unanimously hate all orcs regardless.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Ward starts off as an antagonistic bigot to Jakoby. Even though Ward never does a complete 180, his adventures with Jakoby and Tikka have a profound impact on his views.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Ward and Jakoby are brought before Dorghu, the Orcish head of the Fogteeth clan, they try their best to keep from admitting they're in possession of a magic wand — unfortunately, their best is not good enough, and Dorghu doesn't take long to grow tired of it.
    Dorghu: Altamira thinks there's a wand...the police think there's a wand...the feds think there's a wand...I THINK THERE'S A WAAAAAND!!
  • Treachery Cover Up: Pollard and the other 3 corrupt cops are lionized as heroes at the end to keep word of the wand from getting out. Ward finds it disgusting but Jakoby knows it's for the best.
  • Unlikely Hero: Jakoby mentions that Jirak, the orc who united all nine races to defeat the Dark Lord, was a simple farmer at the start.
  • Urban Fantasy: With a heavy emphasis on the "urban" side of things — while the nonhuman species are important to the story, the emphasis is clearly placed on the movie being set in a modern day Wretched Hive.
  • Villain Has a Point: The orc gang leader accurately points out that it was humans who disturbed the peace between the different races, which Ward agrees is true.
  • Villain Respect: Dorghu pronounces his respect for Jakoby when he doesn't break under a beating, and later bloods him when he runs into a burning building to save someone.
  • Villainous Breakdown: For most of the movie, Leilah has been The Stoic and very rarely shows any emotion. And then during the climax, she tries to bring Tikka back to the Inferni, but she refuses, preferring to die than return to her. At this point, Leilah starts ranting and screaming angrily at Ward for having "corrupted" her sister. She also shows complete disbelief when Ward is revealed to be a Bright.
  • Villainous Rescue: The heroes are cornered in the strip club by the Altamira Gangbangers who are heavily armed and outnumber them, then just as Ward and Jakoby are preparing to go down guns blazing, the Inferni charge in and slaughter the gangsters.
  • Weak Boss, Strong Underlings: Poison is an Evil Cripple bound to a wheelchair who commands a couple of trigger-happy cholos.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Leilah and the Dark Lord are both villainous elves with silver hair. Averted with Tikka, who has silver hair but is one of the heroes.
  • The Worf Effect: The Illuminati are referenced as having once existed in this world. The Inferni killed them all.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Given that many of the females they meet are trying to kill them, neither Ward nor Jakoby have a problem with killing them as well.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Leilah and her cronies wipe out an entire family after questioning them to clean up any witnesses. Including the baby in the crib nearby.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Shield of Light sees themselves as the last line of defense against the Dark Lord, and are implied to be descended from the army that defeated him two thousand years ago. Modern governments just see a bunch of delusional radicals who are stockpiling weapons and magic. While the MTF is willing to use them to take down the Inferni, who they admit are a much greater threat, they still treat them as criminals. Serling seems a little bitter about this treatment, but insists that when the time comes, they will protect the world regardless.


Video Example(s):


Will Smith

A Wild-Card "X" with a By-The-Book Partner in "Y".

How well does it match the trope?

4.95 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / TypeCasting

Media sources: