Bridge of Dragons

Because this was filmed, apparently, in Bulgaria, it could be a memory of the war. There is an occupying or insurgent power, which wears the uniform of the German military in the Forties. Its leader is a General Roechang, or Ruechang, who is about to marry a princess of the realm. The old nurse informs her that this warlord murdered her father, the king, whereupon the princess makes her escape. An able officer, Warchild, or Warchyld, who wears the Luftwaffe uniform, is sent by the General to collect her for the wedding. Warchild and the princess come into contact with the partisans, and subsequently return to the capital.

There is now a question of Tristan und Isolde, as there has been all along. The princess poisons the wine in the bridal cup, hoping to kill the General thereby, but he passes the cup to her first. Warchild learns of her plan from the nurse, who addresses him (as though she were Juliet’s) as “my lord”. He arrives in time to nick the chalice from her lips, there is a face-off between his meager forces, increased by the princess’s announcement of the General’s infamy, and the latter’s guard, followed by a showdown between Warchild and the General.

But a historical account this isn’t, as much fighting is in karate style, and the emblem of the regime is not a swastika but the number 666. This stylistic treatment sharpens the allegory to a point of tension at which personal salvation and the fate of the nation are identified, and this is the real drama. There is a precedent in Cross of Iron for an objectification of the dilemma and a sense of the mysteriousness in visible reality masking and unmasking tangible events, and another in Red Dawn for a complete reversal of expectations based on accepted ideas of the status quo, but the painfulness of the blanket position taken by Bridge of Dragons is ultimately expressed during the fight between Warchild and the General, which takes place while the princess is lying pinned under an overturned and burning jeep about to set off by its proximity a fuel truck parked nearby. This is a plain image derived from, say, The Perils of Pauline, and is meant to dissolve the dramatic exigencies of the plot into a mere sense of urgency, which is in keeping with the entire venture. Bridge of Dragons, in that sense, does not take itself seriously at all, but rather takes the view that the predicament it represents is on the contrary of the utmost gravity, and above and beyond its scenic trappings and derring-do, photographed with a self-abnegating clarity, this constitutes the entire premise of the drama and its realization.