Coma-inducingly dull, this quasi action series tries too hard to be profound and misses just about every mark going.
A strange feeling sank in about 20 minutes into the second episode of El Dragon: Return of a Warrior, something I don’t ever recall encountering before. I imagine it must be somewhere close to the feeling of being in a fugue state. Something I have never experienced watching television. I have never encountered a show as forgettable as this. Somehow, narrative threads appear to evaporate before your very eyes leaving you to question whether or not you even sat down to watch it. This is combined with a glacial pace that makes each episode feel as though you’ve been watching it for days on end. The effect of these two co-existing phenomena is to leave the viewer in some sort of strange trance, simultaneously unsure of what is happening or how long they have been there. It’s a bit like having extreme jet lag without leaving your living room, an odd dislocation of time and space.
So how does El Dragon: Return of a Warrior achieve this feat? One word: Boredom.
In short, It isn’t very good.
A young man is sent away to Japan after the murder of his parents; 20 years later he returns to Mexico assume his role as the heir to his family’s cartel. This, to be fair, is a strong premise that sets up what should be an interesting series. The problem is, as is often the case, in the execution.
The script of El Dragon: Return of the Warrior is frankly appalling, with huge swathes of dialogue sounding as though they have been lifted wholesale from chichescreenplay.com, a fictional website I invented for the purposes of dragging on this show. If the villains were any broader they wouldn’t fit on screen. Drug cartels have never been more predictable or looked more awkward holding guns than this collection of rent-a-goons sipping tequila snarling.
Very shonky stunts and tediously paced set pieces that mean the action scenes drag forever with long takes and very cheap looking effects.
The camera leers at its female supporting characters with regular shots of women in a state of undress for no particular reason other than perhaps to distract the viewer from the shameful writing. This show is of course not alone in having questionable attitudes towards its female characters but somehow the imbalance feels more pronounced by the general rubbishness of everything around it.
Also, a 24 episode series?! Perhaps the producers could have taken their budget and spread it out and condensed it into a much shorter run. Each episode labors over its plot and you do really sense that if they had a 12-episode arc they would be forced to cover the same ground much more quickly and efficiently. Then again, I suppose if the best way to improve a show is to make significantly less of it then the chances are there wasn’t much in there of value to begin with.
There is nothing wrong with a glossy, by the numbers guns and gangsters crime show per se; indeed, Netflix is stacked with them. It doesn’t have to be original to be entertaining. Sadly, El Dragon commits perhaps the worst sin a show like this can. It’s boring and takes itself much too seriously to be fun and is nowhere near good enough to be taken seriously. A total armpit-stain of a show.
Andy joined the Ready Steady Cut team in October 2018. A Graduate of Exeter University, he writes mainly about films and TV.