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Western Animation / Batman: Soul of the Dragon

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Batman: Soul Of The Dragon is 2021 animated movie produced as part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies. Taking place in The '70s, the movie involves Bruce Wayne/Batman teaming up with his old friends, martial arts experts Richard Dragon, Lady Shiva, and Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger, to stop Jeffrey Burr/Lord Kobra from opening the gate to the underworld, and save their master O-Sensei.

The voice cast includes David Giuntoli as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu as Lady Shiva, Michael Jai White as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger, James Hong as O-Sensei, Jamie Chung as Jade Nguyen, Chris Cox as Rip Jagger, Josh Keaton as Jeffrey Burr, Robin Atkin Downes as Schlangenfaust, Grey Griffin as Lady Eve and Patrick Seitz as King Snake.

Here are the tropes for the movie:

  • The Ace:
    • O-Sensei considered Shiva his best student, and even Bruce as Batman was reluctant to face her. Which is why he made her the keeper of the Soultaker Sword.
    • Richard Dragon, who is easily the most skilled fighter after Shiva and (according to Naga) the only human strong enough to sustain himself as the demon's avatar. When facing off against the Naga-possessed O-Sensei, he even says it's his destiny to be the greatest fighter in the world and manages to fight him evenly where Shiva had earlier failed.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the comics, Lady Eve is black-haired while King Snake is blonde, but here they're blonde and redheaded, respectively. In addition, Jade’s eyes are a more realistic dark color rather than the toxic green of her comics counterpart.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Soul Of The Dragon makes Batman, Lady Shiva, Richard Dragon, Bronze Tiger, Cheshire and Judomaster all be fellow martial arts students of O-Sensei in Nanda Parbat, far before any of them became famous. In the comics only Shiva, Richard and Ben are trained by O-Sensei, and not in Nanda Parbat (O-Sensei is a Japanese man who teaches martial arts in Japan, whereas Nanda Parbat is in the Himalayas). Judomaster is the only character that has a connection to Nanda Parbat in the comics making it ironic he's The Mole for the Kobra cult. Also, in the comics Batman learned martial arts from a Korean named Kirigi, and while Bruce has been to Nanda Parbat, it wasn't for martial arts training.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Shiva is portrayed as a serious, stoic Perpetual Frowner, while in the comics she’s a Blood Knight prone to a joyful Slasher Smile. Indeed, in her time working alongside Richard and Ben, she displayed a particular fondness for awful puns. However, in her debut series she was much more snarky and was very much still a badass.
  • Adaptational Badass: Schlangenfaust’s comic counterpart, The Swiss, was a Badass Normal Professional Killer, while in the film he has serpents for hands and is MUCH harder to kill.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Downplayed and Zig-Zagged with Lady Shiva. She's usually an antagonist for Batman and Richard Dragon, being a Professional Killer and Blood Knight that has Noble Demon tendencies at her best. This version is shown as having much higher moral standards, being genuine friends with Bruce and Richard, not hesitating to help them get the Soul Breaker sword back, and wanting to live up to what O-Sensei asked of her in protecting the sword. Despite that, she's still a remorseless killer and is actually The Queenpin of crime in Gotham's Chinatown, something the mainstream Shiva would find pointless and distasteful. That said, her comic counterpart was largely heroic during the seventies era the film is based on, and possessed Undying Loyalty to the O-Sensei.
    • In the comics, Jade Nguyen is the villain Cheshire, but here she's a fellow student of Bruce, Richard and the others who never becomes a villain. Which may be due to the fact that she died before she could even become Cheshire.
    • In the comics Ben Turner's Bronze Tiger identity is a villainous alter-ego created by the League of Assassins. In Soul of the Dragon it's the name given to him by his enemies in the Kobra cult.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the comics Rip Jagger is a hero going by the name of Judomaster, but here he's a member of Kobra who killed Jade to open the gate.
  • Adapted Out: Carolyn Wu-San (or Woosan), Shiva’s sister and Richard’s love interest who was killed by The Swiss/Schlangenfaust, is not mentioned or alluded to at all.
  • Afro Asskicker: Fitting for the setting, Ben Turner has an afro and as said so by himself, always eager to whoop someone's ass.
  • Age Lift: Jade Nguyen is in the same age-range as Bruce Wayne, Lady Shiva, etc., when normally she's depicted as in the general age-range as Bruce's son Dick Grayson.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: King Snake during his fight against Richard.
  • Asshole Victim: There are two examples of this:
    • Jeffrey Burr was willing to sacrifice kids in order to get the gate open. Naturally, he gets a well-deserved death when he gets his soul taken away.
    • Rip Jagger took advantage of everyone's trust and murdered Jade in order to get the gate open. He gets a brutal, yet well-deserved death when he's eaten by demons.
  • Badass Boast: Shiva gives one to Lady Eve when she mocks Shiva for having lost her sword when she threw it.
    Lady Eve: Fool. You gave up your weapon.
    Shiva: [assumes a fighting stance] I am the weapon. [proceeds to break Lady Eve's sword with her bare hands].
  • Battle Aura: During their Brawler Lock, Richard and Naga-possessed O-Sensei's auras glow, with Richard as a red dragon and Naga as a green serpent.
  • Brick Joke: Ben jokes that the only thing behind the secret door is a Whirlpool bath that O-Sensei uses to chill out. Turn out there is a whirlpool of a sort...
  • Big Bad: Jeffrey Burr, aka Lord Kobra. He later turns out to be a Disc-One Final Boss. The True Final Boss is a Naga-possessed O-Sensei.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rip Jagger pretended to be one of O-Sensei's obedient students for years when he actually wanted to open the gate, and murdered Jade in cold blood in order to get it open.
  • Bittersweet Ending: O-Sensei was possessed by a demon, and while they ultimately get it out of him, he ends up dying in the process. He at least says that he's proud of them. They then go into the gate so that nothing inside can get out.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The movie ends with Bruce, Richard, Shiva and Ben stuck in the Naga's realm preparing to fight his demon horde.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Richard Dragon's design is clearly an homage to Bruce Lee. He even does Lee's famous Battle Strip during the finale of the movie.
  • Bullet Dancing: The snake version when Jeffrey kills the call girl as an Establishing Character Moment.
  • Casting Gag: This isn't the first time that Michael J. White played a martial arts fighter with an afro.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: All of O-Sensei's students and O-Sensei are capable of strength, speed, and finesse greater than most people through years of intense training, especially Bronze Tiger and Shiva who can take whole groups of enemies such as snake demons single-handed and break durable objects with their hands. When O-Sensei is possessed by Naga his attributes increase to Supernatural Martial Arts levels with increase speed and chi-enhanced blows.
  • Chase Scene: Schlangenfaust gets chased down by Bruce, Richard and Shiva after he steals the Soultaker Sword from Shiva. They pursue him in Bruce's Batmobile while fighting off ninja Mooks in motorcycles and the police, but ultimately Schlangenfaust manages to escape when a Kobra cult helicopter picks up his car with a giant magnet.
  • The Chosen One: Jeffrey Burr is apparently the subject of an obscure prophecy, which says that he's the only one strong enough to be Naga's vessel/avatar. As it later turned out, it was all hogwash. The actual subject of the prophecy, at least according to Naga, was Richard Dragon.
  • Co-Dragons: Schlangenfaust, Lady Eve and King Snake serve as this for Jeffrey Burr.
  • Cool Old Guy: O-Sensei is a wise Old Master with certain sarcastic quirks.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: King Snake is capable of fighting while blindfolded. However, this is all he does in his fighting. As such, he can misinterpret mundane sounds as someone trying to sneak up on him, such as when Richard Dragon threw stones on the ground to make it sound like he's trying to directly sneak up on him. He's then promptly killed by Richard Dragon in the pond when he mistakes splashing stones for a sneak attack while his actual sneak attack came from above.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Shiva inflicts this twice in the movie, first to Rip Jagger, beating him using only one finger, and later to another fighter, utterly humiliating him before killing him with a jab to the throat.
    • Naga-possessed O-Sensei inflicts this on all four protagonists with terrifying ease.
  • Death by Adaptation: Both Jade Nguyen and Rip Jagger die during their training years, long before they even adopt the personas of Cheshire and Judomaster.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Downplayed. Batman is still an important character to the film and he gets top billing in the promotional art and has his name in the movie title. However, Richard Dragon is the one character who takes center stage in the narrative, being the first of the heroes to be introduced and being the only one of the four to defeat a possessed O-Sensei in the final battle. At the end of the day, Batman: Soul of the Dragon could be more accurately described as a Richard Dragon movie with Batman as a supporting Deuteragonist.
  • Delayed Causality: Shiva does this while cutting bamboo, she swings her blade and the bamboo take a moment before they fall off.
  • Demonic Possession: When the gate is reopened, it's revealed that O-Sensei was possessed by the demon Naga, and he does not hold back in fighting his former students.
  • Designated Girl Fight: During the assault on Kobra's headquarters, Shiva takes on the sole female Kobra member, Lady Eve.
  • Determinator: As usual for the character, out of all of O-Sensei's disciples, Bruce Wayne was considered the least skilled, but certainly the most determined. O-Sensei specifically designs an Impossible Task training exercise of punching rocks until they break to show Bruce the dangers of such a mindset. But even after being told this, Bruce still keeps punching. He also refuses to stay down after being beaten again and again by Ben, which eventually earns him Ben's respect.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • In the comics, the O-Sensei drowned while making a pilgrimage to his wife's grave (poetically sending him to her ACTUAL final resting place beneath the ocean), while here Richard is forced to kill him in order to stop the Great Naga.
    • Rip Jagger is eaten by Naga's demons rather than Bane breaking his back like in Infinite Crisis.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Jeffrey Burr sends a hooker to a snake pit with the implication that he does it regularly.
  • Dragon Lady: Shiva has the exotic Asian appearance, the fighting prowess and is even mentioned to be the head of organized crime in Gotham's Chinatown.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Batman, as always. Richard notes that the gang Bruce and him fight at the beginning of the movie are terrified of him, and even Shiva's heard of him.
    • Shiva. Not even Batman wants to get into it with her.
    • Ben Turner became this to the Kobra cult as the Bronze Tiger after murdering many of them and destroying their bases.
  • Driven to Suicide: With all his Human Sacrifices gone, Jeffrey Burr kills himself as a way to open the gate, thinking he'll be saved by the gods due to supposedly being the chosen one. It's all pointless when he dies anyway after his soul leaves his body.
  • Dual Wielding: Lady Eve battles Shiva with two katanas. They do her no good since Shiva beats her using only her hands.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Batman is referred as the least skilled disciple (somewhat justified as he was the newest of O-Sensei's students) and is belittled for that. It's still Batman, though.
  • Ejection Seat: Lady Shiva uses the ejection seat in Bruce Wayne's Weaponized Car (not the Batmobile, but a disguised civilian car) to blast herself onto an overpass where the villains are escaping. Without clearing it with Batman first.
  • Elseworld: The film is set in the '70s and the back of the DVD/Blu-Ray case does explicitly use this term in the description.
  • Evil Brit: Like in the comics, Sir Edmund Dorrance/King Snake is British, and just as fanatical as the rest of the Kobra Cult.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Something the villains don't learn until it's too late with Rip Jagger being devoured by the demons he released, and Jeffrey Burr getting his soul taken by the demon he worshipped and freed.
  • Evil Redhead: Both Schlangenfaust and King Snake are redheads and indeed evil.
  • Fauxshadowing: Jade’s envy towards Shiva seems to be building up to her becoming a supervillain like her comic counterpart, but she is killed before anything can come of it.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: In the past, Shiva defeated Rip Jagger using only one finger by dealing two of these, one to his stomach and another to his throat. In the present, we see she made it much deadlier when she kills a man by punching his throat with her finger.
  • Flashback B-Plot: The first half of the movie constantly shifts to flashback scenes of Bruce during his time training in Nanda Parbat under O-Sensei along with Richard, Shiva, Ben, Jade and Rip Jagger.
  • Foreshadowing: When Rip Jagger spars against Shiva he never uses Judo, but Snake Fist Southern Style Kenpo. This is a hint he's not the Judomaster from the comics and is actually related to the Kobra Cult.
  • Genre Throwback: This movie is an homage to the Kung Fu and martial arts movies of the 1970s.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Jade is shown to be jealous of Shiva, both for her talent and her status as the master's favorite student, referring to her as a Teacher's Pet. Fridge Brilliance since jade is green.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Naga’s Heralds tearing Rip to pieces. They must have been starving in the demon realm cause they leave nothing of him behind. Or of Jade’s corpse either.
  • The Heavy: While the Naga Demon is the Big Bad and Final Boss, Jeffrey Burr and the Kobra Cult serve as the antagonists for most of the film.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: In the flashback, Jade objects to Shiva being made caretaker of the Soultaker Sword on the grounds that Shiva lacks "killer instinct", suggesting Rip instead. Two minutes later, O-Sensei needs to stop Shiva from causing serious harm to a defeated opponent, and in the present she's by far the deadliest of the students. Jade was very wrong about Rip as well.
  • Human Sacrifice: A life must be ended with the Soultaker Sword to open the gate to the Naga Demon's realm. Rip Jagger uses Jade as his sacrifice in the Flashback while Jeffrey uses himself as the sacrifice in the finale.
  • Hydra Problem: When Shiva severs Schlangenfaust's snake arm, he not only regenerates a new one but the severed arm also turns into a giant snake monster. Shiva promptly puts her sword away.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Bruce after O-Sensei's talk, as explained right below.
  • Impossible Task: O-Sensei intentionally designed the training exercise of punching a stone until it breaks to be unachievable, to teach his students the dangers of taking on impossible odds and accept what they cannot change. Shiva quickly realizes it and leaves, while the others just slowly give up. Bruce refuses to stop punching even after he's told the lesson.
    O-Sensei: You will not break the rock tonight. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. Or perhaps ever.
    Bruce: You said to break the rock.
    O-Sensei: I said to try to break the rock. I know what happened to you. To your family. The whole world knows. Now, you want to stop that from happening to anyone else. But, evil is as eternal as this rock. Even if you break the rock, there will be pebbles. Break the pebbles, there will be sand, and evil remains. You cannot change that, no matter how much you train. Accept what you cannot change. It is not your burden to bear. Life is meant to be lived with others. It is too hard to do it alone.
    [O-Sensei leaves. Bruce stares at the rock pensively for a moment and then resumes punching].
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Jeffrey Burr is in bed with a prostitute when Schlangenfaust arrives to inform him about Richard's break-in on one of their facilities.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Inverted during the training O-Sensei gives his students that has them punching rocks until they break, which is an intentional Impossible Task. Bruce, Richard and Ben all get bloody fists from punching the rock for hours.
  • Kill It with Fire: Using an Aerosol Flamethrower, this is how Bronze Tiger deals with Schlangenfaust and the snake demon that grew from his arm.
  • Logo Joke: To go along with the 70s throwback feel, the Warner Bros. Animation logo is done up In the Style of the 1970s Saul Bass-designed Big W; the DC logo, meanwhile, is rendered in a style mimicking that of the "scanimation" frequently used for logos and commercials back then.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Silver St. Cloud has a single scene where she begs Bruce to tell her whatever it is that he has been hiding from her that is damaging their relationship. When he still refuses, she promptly breaks up with him.
  • Meaningful Name: Schlangenfaust means 'Snake Fist' in german. Guess what his arms turn into?
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Played With. When Jeffrey Burr is in bed with a prostitute she only has the sheet up to her waist, but her breasts are still concealed via a Toplessness from the Back shot and Scenery Censor. Jeffrey himself is wearing a slightly open bathrobe.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Of the four protagonists, Shiva has by far the highest body count and is the most likely to use lethal force. She even outright decapitates one of the Kobra cult members at one point in the movie.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Soultaker sword belongs to the anti-hero Katana.
    • Richard mentions briefly that he does his spy work for an unnamed organization, almost certainly a reference to G.O.O.D., the spy agency that he, Ben, and Shiva worked for in Richard Dragon: Kung-Fu Fighter.
    • King Snake's association with the Kobra cult comes from a Gotham Knights storyline focusing on his son, Bane.
    • Ben teaching martial arts to inner-city kids after retiring from being the Bronze Tiger comes from an issue of Batgirl (2000).
    • The strike that Shiva uses to shatter Lady Eve’s sword is the same one used against her by her own daughter during their first death duel in Batgirl (2000).
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the comics, Schlangenfaust is known only by the descriptor “the Swiss”.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Richard introduces himself this way after escaping from a Kobra hideout and landing in a yacht to a couple of bikini-clad women.
  • Neck Lift: Rip Jagger during his fight with Shiva, but she manages to get free by striking his neck with a single finger.
  • Neck Snap:
    • Ben does this to one Kobra Cult Mook from behind when infiltrating their base.
    • Batman of all people does this twice, both times to supernatural beings and both times it fails to actually kill them: the first to the snake monster sprouted from Schlangenfaust's severed hand and the second to the Naga-possessed O-Sensei using his cape.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: For all his bluster and evil acts, Jeffrey Burr is surprisingly reluctant when facing the protagonists and kills himself trying to become Naga's avatar without receiving a single punch.
  • No Escape but Down: Richard escapes from the Kobra's cult mansion in the opening by jumping out the window and parachuting down into a nearby yacht.
  • Off with His Head!: Shiva cuts off the head of one of the Mooks during the car Chase Scene.
  • Oh, Crap!: A Mook has this reaction in the opening when Richard kicks a grenade towards him.
  • One-Man Army: Ben Turner aka Bronze Tiger proved himself one in-story through exploits of single-handedly attacking and destroying the bases of various Kobra cultists.
  • Only Six Faces: Due to the art style, Shiva and Jade look almost identical, with the only differences being the eyebrows and hairstyles.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The first half of the film has Richard tracking down his old colleagues from Nanda Parbat to help him fight the Kobra Cult. Originally he intended to only bring in Bruce, but after they're attacked they decide to bring in Shiva and later Ben as well.
  • Race Lift:
    • Richard Dragon is now a Bruce Lee Clone instead of a case of Mighty Whitey like his comic counterpart or even Latino like the man who stole his name, Ricardo Diaz, in the New 52.
    • Silver St. Cloud is Ambiguously Brown as opposed to her comic counterpart who has very pale skin.
  • Razor-Sharp Hand: Shiva manages to break Lady Eve's sword with her bare hands.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sinister Shades: Schlangenfaust wears them, which hides his Hellish Pupils and it's all that remains of him after Ben burns him and the snake demon to death.
  • Sky Heist: Schlangenfaust escapes with the sword after his car is picked up by a helicopter with a large electromagnet attached to it.
  • Smug Snake: Despite his arrogant personality, Jeffrey Burr is no great fighter and relies on his henchmen and lieutenants to do the fighting for him, and starts freaking out after they're all beaten.
  • Snake People: Schlangenfaust is revealed to be one, with his hands turning into snakes, having Hellish Pupils and even creating a completely new snake demon from his severed arm.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: The main villains are the Kobra Cult, who worship the evil snake demon Naga.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: There is actually comparatively little Batman in the movie as Bruce spends most of it outside of his mask.
  • Spy Catsuit: Lady Eve wears a green one that leaves her midriff exposed. But only the back while covering her navel.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The Soultaker Sword, which is needed to open the gate to the realm the Naga Demon is sealed in. O-Sensei trusts it to Shiva in a Flashback, but Schlangenfaust still manages to steal it in the present.
  • Stab the Scorpion: When Shiva first meets Bruce and Richard in the present, she throws two shurikens towards them. It looks like she's attacking them for a second, but then the shuriken hit two ninja Mooks that were sneaking up behind them.
  • The Tease: Jade throws a flirtatious wink to Bruce when he's watching her train.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Subverted. During the sword fight with Lady Eve, Shiva throws her sword, which ends up missing and gets stuck in the wall. Lady Eve even mocks her for it, but then Shiva simply takes a fighting stance, delivers a Badass Boast and proceeds to break Lady's Eve sword with her bare hands.
  • Travel Montage: This style of montage is used when Ben is telling the rest of the crew about his fights against the Kobra Cult all around the world.
  • True Companions: The four protagonists. Even after years of separation, their teamwork is better than ever and they trust each other implicitly. Shiva and Ben don't hesitate to join in on the quest, and Bruce only had reservations because of his dedication to Gotham. The movie even ends with them entering the Gate together to tackle on a horde of demons.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: In the comics, the O-Sensei is Shiva’s godfather, while in the film they seem to just be master and student.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Batman comes off as this compared to his martial artist cohorts who are shown to greatly outpace him in combat skill where he relies on trickery, determination, and willpower to defeat his enemies. This is lampshaded by Richard Dragon who denotes how despite being more skilled in combat arts, Bruce's sheer determination outmatched all of O-Sensei's students and gives him an edge against opponents.
  • Villain in a White Suit: Schlangenfaust dresses in a white suit.
  • Wall of Weapons: Bruce has a wall of weapons on his jet full of conveniently themed Asian weaponry for his Asian martial artist friends to pick from.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Shiva criticizes Ben when he says he could not bring himself to kill Jeffrey Burr when he was a child, saying she would have no problem doing it. When Bruce and Richard try to argue with her she even brings up killing baby Hitler via time travel.
    Richard: He was innocent!
    Shiva: So was Hitler, once upon a time. But give me a time machine, and I'd toss his bassinet into a volcano.
    • Jeffrey Burr had no problems sacrificing kids in order to open the gate.
  • Women Are Wiser: Shiva immediately recognises the pointless nature of the rock breaking exercise and leaves. Jade follows leaving the men to hit the rocks until their knuckles are bloody.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child: Ben Turner couldn't bring himself to kill a young Jeffrey Burr.
  • You Have Failed Me: Jeffrey Burr orders Schlangenfaust to kill the Axe Gang for failing to kill Richard and Bruce. Turns out he's already in the process of doing so.


So, No Blades

A snake monster is able to regenerate and multiplicate himself when his limbs are cut off.

How well does it match the trope?

4.96 (26 votes)

Example of:

Main / HydraProblem

Media sources: