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!"
Quaid plays Bowen, a knight in 10th Century (Saxon) England who is one of the few left who adheres 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 (Thewlis). During a peasant uprising, the King is killed in battle and the prince is injured. Bowen takes the boy to his mother, who strikes a deal with a dragon (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 12 years of dragonslaying, Bowen encounters 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 and the dragon slowly become friends and Bowen eventually names him Draco, after the dragon constellation. His time with Draco reminds him of how far he has strayed 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 an end to Einon’s tyrannical rule. With Bowen as a leader, Draco as the muscle and the help of an aspiring poet, and Monk (Postlethwaite) and a plucky peasant (Meyer), 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, but more advanced in the aspect of CGI being used to portray a central character interacting with live actors. 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 many 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 screenwriter, Charles Edward Pogue, published a novelization of the story which expanded somewhat on the characters, events, and world.
Four years after the film's release, Universal Pictures released a Lighter and Softer direct-to-video sequel. After a 15-year hiatus, the first direct-to-video prequel to the original film was released. Since then, there have been another two prequels.
This franchise includes:Films
- Dragonheart (1996)
- Dragonheart: A New Beginning (2000)
- Dragonheart 3: The Sorcerer's Curse (2015)
- Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire (2017)
- Dragonheart: Vengeance (2020)
- Dragonheart (1996)
- Dragonheart: Fire & Steel (1996)
This movie provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Einon purposely acts as one to Kara after murdering her father.
- Achievement In Ignorance: Brother Gilbert starts a rhyme as Bowen starts his fight with a dragon and it was really good... until he realized he had no idea what he just said.Gilbert: ...That was good. What did I say? What did I say?!
- Action Girl: Kara, who began as something of a Damsel in Distress and Took a Level in Badass with Bowen's instruction.
- Actually, I Am Him: Apparently, Bowen doesn't figure out Draco is the dragon he swore to kill until they travel to Avalon together.
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Compared to the novelization, the film has many additions and omissions that create many plot holes:
- The reason for the animosity between Bowen and Brok is left unanswered. In the book, the reason is that a duel between them was held in the past to see which of them would be Einon's mentor and Bowen won.
- The film exposes Einon as a villain to the audience early on when he takes his father's crown and tells him to die, making Bowen look stupid for blaming Draco's heart for Einon's "corruption." It makes sense in the book since Einon doesn't tell Freyne to die and jerks away with the crown, and it's only after he's revived by Draco that Einon reveals his true nature by laying waste to the peasant village and rounding up rebels for his quarry the following day.
- The book explains that King Freyne was a dragonslayer who forced Aislinn into a loveless marriage as he only wanted her for her beauty, after which he slaughtered her dragon-worshipping people, leaving her unable to protect her son from his father's cruelty or from becoming just like him. Aislinn reveals all of this during the scene in Draco's cave and when she helps Kara escape the castle.
- In the film, Bowen's character arc of an honorable knight turned dragonslayer and going back to a knight of the Old Code is questionable at best. The book details that Draco uses the cons with Bowen as a way to pick at Bowen's conscience as he sees the peasants suffer under Einon's rule until they and Kara arrive at the reeking swamp village. This is the point where Bowen is at the end of his rope, he can no longer justify conning the king's minions, and he has to face the reality of Einon's oppression as Kara previously urged him to do so; a plot point nonexistent in the film.
- When Kara stabs Einon in the shoulder, Draco's shoulder glows in response. However, when Einon falls into the cistern at the end of the film, Draco doesn't respond to it. The book rectifies this by having Draco's entire body glowing as he writhes in pain.
- In the book, the swamp village residents are not only starving but so poor that they offer Bowen bits of metal and kitchen utensils as payment for his services. By adding a bunch of pigs to the scene, the film makes the swamp people look like idiots as they already have enough meat to feed themselves. On top of that, when the con is exposed, the villagers appear to turn cannibal when they go after Bowen, Kara, and Gilbert. The book explains that the villagers go after them because of being tricked out of making a meal out of Draco.
- In the film, Gilbert's mule Merlin is last seen before Bowen and Draco's fight. In the book, Merlin is with Gilbert when he appears at the swamp village and later accompanies the group to Avalon and Kara's village.
- Bowen appears wearing the headband of Kara's father on his arm near the end of the film without explanation, but the book shows Kara giving it to Bowen as her "lady's favor" in the cistern when they go to save Draco from Einon.
- A Dog Named "Perro":When Bowen asks the dragon for a name to call him other than "dragon", the dragon refuses to share his name in his own language, so Bowen decides to call him "Draco", after a constellation in the night sky. Draco snarks that he's basically stopped calling him "dragon" in English and in order to call him "dragon" in Latin, but accepts the name.
- All There in the Manual: The novelization not only gives greater detail about the world and its deterioration under Einon's rule, but it also has more development and provides insight for characters like Bowen, Draco, Kara, Gilbert, Einon, Queen Aislinn, Brok, and Lord Felton.
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: An unusual example where the Japanese◊ poster is more action-filled than the American◊ one.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Einon decides to make Kara his bride, both because he finds her beautiful and because he knows she hates him.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Draco dies and ascends to the heavens with his brethren.
- As Long as There Is Evil and As Long as There Is One Man: Draco tells Bowen that there is an equalizer in this story, in that the day cannot be won until Einon is dead. And Einon can't die unless Draco dies.
- Attempted Rape: Einon to Kara, in the scene where she stabs him. In the novelization of the film, it's not an attempt — he DOES rape her.
- Badass Creed: See the page quote. The novel reveals the Code in full:Inside the table's circle,
Under the sacred sword,
A knight must vow to follow
The code that is unending.
Unending as the table -
A ring by honor bound.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 right can never die
If one man still recalls.
The words are not forgot,
If one voice speaks them clear.
The code forever shines,
If one heart holds it bright.
- Badass Preacher: Brother Gilbert near the end.
- Beat Still, My Heart: The physical heart itself is removed from the dragon and shown onscreen.
- Big Bad: Einon is the main antagonist of the film.
- Bittersweet Ending: Due to the bond shared by Draco and Einon, in order for Einon to be beaten, Draco himself must die. Oh, and also he's the last dragon still alive in the entire world. But even though Draco dies, by sacrificing his life in order to stop Einon, he's redeemed himself and earned his place in the Dragons' Heaven, among his brothers again at last.
- Blood from the Mouth: Hewe has some on the corner of his mouth during the battle at the end, though it's not a fatal example.
- Bond One-Liner: Gilbert gets quite a few of these during the battle in the forest."Turn the other cheek, brother."
- A Boy and His X: In this case, a knight who befriends the last dragon on earth.
- Breath Weapon: Fire, naturally, considering that this is a movie about a dragon. Interestingly, Draco breathes fire from his nostrils, not from his mouth; this makes the stalemate with Bowen more plausible.
- Broken Bird: Kara, to an extent, because of her father's murder. The novelization implies that Queen Aislinn (Einon's mother) may also be one; Einon's father invaded her homeland and slaughtered many of her dragon-loving people, but kept her for his queen because of her beauty.
- Bucket Helmet: Kara wears one toward the start.
- Butt-Monkey: Felton in the novelization. He's always picked on by Einon's men (and occasionally Einon himself), partly because he is poor at hunting (to the point that once he left a dead deer out the day before, claiming to shoot it that day, but didn't realize before telling everyone to look at his "kill" that the carcass had been half-eaten by a scavenger overnight). He's caught with his pants down when Draco attacks the village, his house is damaged in the attack, and Bowen steals his money by asking for it in advance and then pretending to have been eaten. He gets his hand cut off by a peasant. Later, during the battle, Gilbert shoots him in the rear with an arrow, giving a Bond One-Liner to add insult to injury. Immediately after, the girl he had been in bed with attacks him, knocks him out, and then steals some money and his jeweled cuff (which he had been wearing over his stump). In the end, he is stabbed from behind and killed by the peasants.
- Cassandra Truth: No one believes Kara when she tells the townsfolk that Bowen's "in league with the dragon!"
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: Hewe and the other rebel peasants show up just after Einon has been defeated and Draco dies.
- Cave Behind the Falls: Quite literally, Bowen finds Draco in a... well, a cave. Behind a waterfall.
- Cessation of Existence: Draco says that only certain dragons get to have an afterlife, branded by the stars. The others just... disappear when they die.
- Chekhov's Gun: During Draco's attack on the castle, a big ax is dropped when one of the dragon slayers gets killed. It is later picked up by Kara to defend herself from Brok and afterward, it's used by Bowen to kill Draco.
- Chekhov's Skill: When pretending to be hunted down by Bowen, Draco deftly catches the ballista bolts that Bowen shoots at him. During the final battle, it becomes useful when the real dragon killers use ballistas against him.
- Chess Motif: In the novelization, Queen Aislinn is forever playing chess. During Einon's childhood, she played it with Bowen, who was the only one who saw any value in it; after Einon becomes King, she plays against herself.
- Coconut Superpowers: Subverted; the movie takes its time to reveal Draco, but once he is shown in full they don't cut any corners.
- Con Man: Bowen and Draco form a duo, scamming villagers out of their money by staging dragon kills.
- Covered in Mud: Kara's villagers, in addition to throwing fruits/vegetables at her, throw mud. Bowen taunts her about the mud, and she responds by smearing a smashed watermelon in his face.
- Creator Cameo: Director Rob Cohen is Draco's singing voice. He also makes an appearance in the shallow-water con scene: he is the villager that walks out and says "Meat!" first.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Brother Gilbert turns out to be one of these, once he has a bow and arrow in his hands; he even follows Bowen into situations so dangerous that the men of the village hesitate.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Draco is a very big, threatening creature whose ominously introduced in shadow, but very much has his half heart in the right place, even if he's soured towards humanity, understandably so.
- Deadpan Snarker: Bowen and Draco both have their moments.
- Deceptive Disciple: Einon, to Bowen. Bowen fully believed that he had trained Einon to value the Old Code so that he'd be honorable, a better king than his father. All along, Einon only pretended to go along with it, in reality just wanting to learn how to fight. When he reveals his true self, it turns out he's just as cruel as his father.
- Disney Death: Einon appears to die by falling off the highest tower of the castle. This fails to kill him, due to the fact that he is bound to life as long as Draco lives.
- Disappears into Light: At the very end of the movie, as Draco dies, his body fades into light, which ascends to the stars.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Kara's father remarks to Einon that he should be grateful, for it was a stroke from his blade that made Einon a king. That crack ends up costing him dearly.
- 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 (or as Bowen calls it, the "scholar's tongue") for "dragon". This is because he refuses to tell his real name and says humans can't pronounce it anyway, and Bowen comes up with "Draco" as a simple nickname. Lampshaded by Draco:"So instead of calling me dragon in your tongue, you'll call me dragon in some other tongue."
- The Dragon: Einon's general, Brok.
- Dragons Versus Knights: Zigzagged. Sir Bowen swears vengeance on all dragons after Draco saves his master Prince Einon's life by gifting him half his heart, only for now-King Einon to turn into a tyrant. Bowen spends the next several years as a professional dragon hunter, but after stalemating against Draco, now the last dragon, partners with Draco to scam villages out of dragon bounties and in the third act, to lead a peasant uprising against Einon. Ultimately he's forced to slay Draco in order to kill Einon.
- Dual Wielding: Kara prefers to fight with two axes. Bowen during the forest battle.
- The Dung Ages: Most of the villages are dirty and untidy, with the third village Bowen goes to being very muddy.
- End of an Era: Since the movie opens in 984 A.D. and Bowen has been Dragon-slaying for 12 years that would place the rest of the movie in the last couple years of not only the 10th century, but also of the 1st millennium and With Draco’s death comes the end to the time of dragon’s and magic, at least until the sequel.
- Evil All Along: Einon. Bowen spends twelve years convinced it was the dragon's heart that turned him evil, but in a duel, Einon point-blank tells him he never believed in the Old Code and Bowen realizes the man was always going to be a tyrant.
- 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.
- Failed a Spot Check: One man can easily tell that Draco is the same dragon from Bowen's old trick.
- 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:
Draco: Yes knight, I do long for death, but... fear it.
- Einon is a big fan of this trope. In his words, "Death should be a release, not a punishment." It was something Bowen taught him, but he twisted it. Kara throws it at him in one scene: "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.
- Draco considers his soul fading into nothingness — a fate that awaits him if he is unable to redeem himself — to be one.
Bowen: Why? Aside from your misery, what's to lose?
Draco: My soul.
- Forced to Watch: Right before Einon prepares to kill his mother, he gives Draco a cruel smile. Draco growls threateningly and tries to shoot some fire, but because he is chained up, he can do nothing but watch the subsequent matricide.
- 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.
- Funny Background Event: When Kara thinks she's defending Draco from Bowen, he starts admitting the ruse, while in the background, Draco is silently waving his hand to indicate "No, stop!", (while mouthing the word "no") and ends by quickly drawing a line across his throat in the universal sign of "Shut UP!".
- Giant Flyer: Draco is one, considering that he's a large dragon about as big as a house.
- The Gift: Parodied with Brother Gilbert, who picks up a bow and arrow pretty quickly.
- 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.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: In a complete reversal of the standard, Einon's wardrobe is almost entirely white, and Bowen's is almost entirely black.
- My Greatest Failure: Twelve years prior, Queen Aislinn insisted to Draco that he save her son's life, believing beyond the shadow of a doubt that Einon would be a fair and kindly king. In the present day, she sees it all as a "mistake", as she recognizes he has wasted his second chance at life with tyrrany and cruelty.
- Hands-On Approach: Bowen gives Kara instruction on how to properly use a battle hatchet.
- Hard Truth Aesop: Bowen became Einon's mentor with the intention of turning a young kid from a corrupt royal family into someone better and more merciful. When Einon turns to be a cruel king he blamed the dragonheart ritual for undoing all his efforts. Draco reveals late in the story that when he performed the ritual he could feel the evil already within Einon and hoped the new life would change him. Both came to acknowledge that Einon became what he is regardless of their efforts, and all the love and compassion they gave was not enough to prevent him from becoming what he was. It was finally acknowledging that Einon's actions are his own that they both resolve to stop him.
- 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."
- Heal It With Fire: After Draco performs the dragonheart ritual, he gives the wound a quick shot of flame to cauterize it.
- 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.
- Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: The idealistic Brother Gilbert points out that a proper hero should not accept payment, to which Bowen sensibly points out that honor will not put food in his belly nor shoe his horse. The dickish Lord Felton still uses it as a pretense to avoid paying Bowen for his service.
- Hit Me, Dammit!: Draco tries to convince Bowen to kill him in order to beat Einon.Bowen: You are my friend...Draco: Then as my friend, strike, please!
- 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.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Bowen firmly believes in the start that Einon's cruel nature is due to the dragon's heart influencing him. He later discovers that Einon was always as bad as his father, and Draco even gave him the heart because he thought doing so would change him.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Brother Gilbert has never fired a bow in his life, yet manages to be an amazing shot.
- Bowen hits a shovel that Hewe is holding with an arrow. On horseback. While the horse is running. From over a hundred yards away. With Brother Gilbert, Kara, and Hewe himself within a few feet of the target and other unnamed people in the near background. While Hewe is raising it to hit Kara.
- Informed Ability: The group of Dragonslayers that Queen Aislinn hires are supposedly the best in the world. Draco kills three of them quite easily before they even get their ballista loaded, and the rest get taken out by various people during Bowen's stealth assault on the castle later.
- 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 final words are, "A girl?"
- 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.
- Jerkass Has a Point: As Bowen and the villagers are taunting Einon outside his castle, Felton is trying desperately to convince Einon not to leave and confront them, as the villagers lack any ability to storm or lay siege to the castle. When Felton brings up how his father died in the same manner, it finally seems to get through to him. At least until Draco attacking changes the equation.
- Kick the Dog:
- We know Brok is a bad guy because he insults Bowen early on for no reason, calling him a nursemaid. The novelization explains that Brok's animosity towards Bowen stems from a duel the two had that decided which of them would be Einon's mentor. King Freyne wanted Brok to mentor Einon while Aislinn chose Bowen, and Bowen emerged the victor.
- 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 tries to kill him.
- Knight in Sour Armor:
- Bowen, who literally is a knight.
- And, ironically enough, Draco. The dragon has every reason to hate humanity for how they've hunted his kind down to near-extinction and is a pretty world-weary Death Seeker all around, but he still aims to do his part to help the very people that fear him and undo his mistakes that led to Einon's rise to power.
- Large Ham:
- Last of His Kind: Literally for Draco. For Bowen, he is the only knight left who follows 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 brings it down on a much bigger fallen log, it has just enough give that it doesn't cut through, and his tail gets stuck.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to the Darker and Edgier novelization based on the original screenplay, the film was made to gear towards families. Executive Meddling and Creative Differences caused the moments of somewhat graphic violence in the book to be lessened or removed completely, and more wisecracks and moments of slapstick to be added.
- Literal Change of Heart: Draco gives away half his heart, hoping to redeem the prince sadly, it doesn’t.
- The Magic Goes Away: At the end of the film, with Draco's death, dragons are gone.
- Martial Pacifist: What Brother Gilbert turns into when he proves to be a quick study with the bow — rather than aim to kill, he tries to incapacitate his targets. His only exception, complete with quoting Thou Shalt Not Kill while lining up the shot in a moment of conflict, is loosing an arrow at King Einon, though he remains this due to Einon's immortality clause kicking in.
- Matricide: During the final battle, 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.
- May It Never Happen Again: When young prince Einon receives a grave wound during a peasant uprising, a dragon agrees to donate a piece of his heart to magically heal Einon. Sadly, when Einon ascends the throne, he becomes more tyrannical than his father. And because he has a piece of dragon heart in him, Einon becomes almost deathless and nearly invincible. Only a Heroic Sacrifice by the dragon that donated the heart piece can put Einon to rest forever.
- 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.Draco: Marvelous... we'll kill each other.
- The Middle Ages: The setting of this movie. The opening takes place in 984 A.D. The 12 year Time Skip means that Bowen meets Draco again in 996 A.D..
- Monster Façade: Draco pretends to menace a farming village so that Bowen can charge them a fee to slay the monster. Played for Laughs when the felled dragon cannot sink into a lake deep enough to preclude being mobbed and discovered to be unharmed. "This is as deep as the stupid lake gets," he snarls to Bowen in a Stage Whisper.
- 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.
- Named by the Adaptation: The dragonslayers: in the novelization, they're Uhlrich, Tavis, Trahern, Cavan and Ivor.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- The film's story wouldn't have happened if the heroes hadn't all collectively broken it. Bowen and Queen Aislinn take the mortally-wounded Einon to Draco to see if the dragon can save his life, and Draco himself gives half his heart to Einon despite sensing evil in the boy. Saving the prince only paves the way for a regime that's even more tyrannical than the last.
- 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 not only incapacitates Draco long enough for him to be captured, but makes Einon realize that if Draco dies, he dies, and causes him to race back to the castle to stop the dragon slayers before they can finish the job.
- To be fair, Draco didn't tell them the secret of what giving half his heart meant in making Einon effectively immortal.
- 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.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Dennis Quaid (Bowen) and Dina Meyer (Kara) retain their American accents despite playing European characters. Averted with David Thewlis (Einon), who according to Patrick Read Johnson had to mimic the Northern English accent used by young Einon (Lee Oakes) since his scenes were shot first.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Bowen saves Kara's father from being blinded early in the movie... only for Einon to recapture him later and finish the job anyway. Because really, why wouldn't he?
- No Name Given: Just before Draco is able to tell Bowen his real name he is suddenly interrupted when he collapses from pain because of the shared heart, instead he gets nicknamed by Bowen after the Draco constellation, which he happily accepts.
- Obviously Evil: So obvious with 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.Einon: You wanted me dead.Aislinn: I wanted to correct a mistake I made years ago; when I saved a creature not worth saving.
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: Bowen the instructor vs. Einon the evil monarch.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Dennis Quaid's accent varies between regular American and something approaching Irish with mild undertones of Pirate. All the other American actors don't try.
- 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 (at least in Draco’s case.)
- Palate Propping: Leads to a standoff with Bowen literally inside Draco's mouth.Bowen: Good Lord! Sir Egglemore!Draco: Oh, thank you very much, that's been stuck down there for months. Could you get your buttocks off my tongue?Bowen: Why should you be comfortable? My armor is rusting in your drool and your breath is absolutely foul.Draco: Well, what did you expect with an old knight rotting between my molars?
- 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.
- Plot Hole: A number of scenes that help the story flow more naturally, contain character development, and help explain their motivations were cut from the film.
- Powering Villain Realization: A peasant uprising slays the king, and leaves his only son and heir, Prince Einon, mortally wounded. A reclusive dragon agrees to save the prince's life by donating a piece of his heart, which restores the prince to health, and also leaves him deathless, so long as the dragon lives. When Einon turns out to be a cruel and malicious ruler, Knight Errant Bowen partners with the dragon to end Einon's rule. However, no matter how many times Bowen defeats him or leaves him to an unsurvivable fate, Einon cannot die, and returns for more. The dragon beseeches Bowen to slay him instead, as Einon's heart will fail when the dragon's heart stops beating.
- Predecessor Villain: King Freyne to Einon. He was Einon's father and immediate predecessor as king, was almost as bad a tyrant as Einon, and the novelization makes it quite clear that it was his cruel parenting and bad example that made Einon the way he is.
- Produce Pelting: Kara's villagers do this to her when she tries to convince them to fight Einon.Bowen: Why waste good food on bad rhetoric?
- Promoted to Love Interest: Kara in the novelization, though there's some subtle Ship Tease in the film.
- Rank Scales with Asskicking: Not only is Einon the evil ruler of England, but it turns out that he's a quite good swordsman and fighter. He even manages to almost kill Bowen twice.
- Recycled Trailer Music: Randy Edelman's main theme for the film 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. In fact, Edelman's theme is also featured in the film's sequel and later prequels.
- 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 often wears green.
- 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.
- Scenery Porn: The landscape and castle are beautiful.
- Ship Tease: It's subtle between Bowen and Kara in the film, mostly consisting of a few shared looks and Gilbert's narration over the end that they led the people together. Their falling in love is much more explicit in the novelization and earlier scripts.
- Sleep Cute: Draco is made of this trope.
- The Sociopath: Einon. In the beginning, he comes across as a naive and boisterous but still well-meaning kid who loves his (albeit tyrannical) father and needs some guidance from a wise mentor to be an even better king. However, cracks begin to form when his reaction to seeing his dying father is to try and seize the crown. And once he becomes king, it becomes clear the whole naive kid thing was an act he put on for Bowen to learn swordsmanship, which he readily drops and begins a reign of terror, abusing his power to pursue his often sadistic whims without expressing an ounce of remorse or empathy for others.
- Stargazing Scene: As Sir Bowen and the dragon prepare for a night's rest al fresco, Bowen points out the constellation Draco in the night sky, and suggests calling the dragon by that name. The dragon replies that he'd feel honored to be named after that array of stars.
- Stellification: 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: 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 Bowen's 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. There's also the fact that his actual name is unpronounceable by humans.
- Time Skip: The beginning of the movie takes place in 984 A.D. the movie then skips 12 years after Einon has become king and Bowen has been slaying dragons, making it 996 A.D. when Bowen encounters Draco again.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: Bowen, Draco, and Kara raise a peasant army. One that is better trained and better organized to face Einon's 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.
- Unwanted Rescue: Queen Aislinn helps Kara escape from the castle rather than be forced to marry Einon. Kara initially doesn't want this rescue — not because she doesn't want to escape, but because she doesn't want to accept help from the woman who gave birth to the monster. Aislinn wins her compliance by saying, "I won't let you suffer the same fate as me."
- Villain Has a Point: Considering how poorly he treats his slaves, Einon isn't wrong when he summarizes that "death is a release, not a punishment" even if him shooting Kara's father is an unambiguous bit of Kick the Dog.
- 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.
- Watch Out for That Tree!: During Bowen's fight with Draco, the knight ends up dragged under the dragon with a rope he himself threw with bolas. Draco goes through a forest on purpose, and naturally Bowen crashes into some trees much to the dragon's amusement, though the knight eventually manages to make the dragon crash-land by snaring the rope in a tree trunk.
- We Can Rule Together: Einon offers to make Kara his queen. Because she has no interest in marrying or bedding with her father's murderer, she refuses.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Gilbert's mule Merlin and the remains of Sir Eglamore. In the film, Merlin and what's left of Sir Eglamore are never seen or mentioned again after the scene where Draco and Bowen fight to a stalemate. In the novelization, after the fight, Gilbert wakes up the next morning and finds the arm. He mistakes it for belonging to Bowen and when Gilbert reappears at the swamp village, he tells Bowen about burying the arm in the glade beneath a cross with Bowen's name on it. Merlin is with Gilbert at the swamp village, taken to Avalon with him, Bowen, and Kara, and then Kara's village afterward.
- You Killed My Father: Einon slaughters Kara's father right in front of her, inciting her endless hatred. But years earlier, Kara's father killed Einon's father.