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The Dragon Pearl



Family-friendly adventure full of magic and battles.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 95 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Promotes respect for cultural differences; values the legacy of myths and fantasy.

Positive role models

The two kids at the heart of this film are resourceful, brave, honest, and compassionate. They occasionally take risks without parental approval, but always with the intent of doing the right thing. The parents, who love their children, are initially too absorbed in their work, but eventually learn the art of paying attention. The comic element is a Chinese monk who occasionally displays stereotypical behavior.


Several hand-to-hand battles using martial arts and various weapons: knives, spears, a broom handle. Efforts are made using special effects, slow-motion cuts, and close-ups to keep the action stylized rather than frightening, however the two kids in the midst of it are in danger in numerous scenes. The dragon is ferocious and powerful, but it is a hero from centuries past and is portrayed mostly as magical. There are falls, chases, as well as eerie suspenseful sequences in underground tombs, but no one is hurt or killed.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Dragon Pearl is an exciting, live-action adventure (with a CGI dragon) that has multiple sequences in which the two young heroes are in danger. Despite these dangers, the film will be appealing and appropriate for most older tweens because the filmmakers have tried to minimize the actual violence using special effects and camera techniques. The dragon -- a heroic character -- snorts, growls, and has a ferocious face, but it is never truly a threat to the children. Set in China, the movie includes a few scenes that use simple subtitles, but the majority of the film is in English.

What's the story?

In THE DRAGON PEARL (a Chinese-Australian co-production), Ling (Li Lin Jin) and Josh (Louis Corbett) meet when they arrive at an archeological dig site in China to spend time with her mom and his dad (Sam Neill), colleagues at work on a major dig. Josh, still trying to adjust to his parents' recent divorce, is defensive and grumpy; Ling isn't impressed by him. The two kids team up, however, after their chance encounter with a mysterious monk, a song that no one but Ling can hear, and a spooky, unsettling visit to the hiding place of a very powerful, celestial dragon. Legend has it that the dragon's magic pearl, the source of all of his power, is lost and the dragon has been stranded on earth for thousands of years without it. Even the most scientifically-minded parents find it hard to believe their kids' unlikely story and Ling and Josh are on their own. They take up the dragon's cause, embark on a search for the pearl, and the truth about what happened to it. But they're not alone on their quest. A surprising villain also wants the treasured gem and will do anything to have it for himself.

Is it any good?


Every effort has been made to keep The Dragon Pearl a family-friendly adventure film. Even the action sequences are designed to be fun rather than scary (i.e., knives stop in mid-air; a comic character wields a broom as a weapon; the dragon is not threatening). The two kids are watchable, likable, and heroic. It's lightweight entertainment, often sacrificing logic to move the plot forward, and with some amateurish effects and camera work. Still, it's always well-intentioned.

Combining martial arts moves, an all-powerful dragon, an ancient legend, and a quest, middle-grade kids should enjoy The Dragon Pearl, and their parents probably won't mind the time spent.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about legendary animals as characters. Besides a dragon, what are some other creatures you've seen on film or read about? Why do you think audiences and/or readers respond to them? Design and draw your own mythical creature and describe its skills.

  • This movie is set at an archeological site and combines a bit of real scientific exploration with Josh's and Ling's magical search. How did the filmmakers tie these two elements together?

  • How is the violence in this movie handled? Do you think the filmmakers were able to make it exciting, but not scary? What techniques are used to achieve this?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:June 18, 2013
Cast:Li Lin Jin, Louis Corbett, Sam Neill
Director:Mario Andreacchio
Studio:Hendigan World Studios
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Run time:95 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:adventure action and peril

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Parent of a 13 year old Written byLisette's Mom July 26, 2013

Disappointingly Sappy

I rented it to watch with my 13 year old, and we never got past the first 30 minutes. It's too sappy and squeaky clean for tweens if you ask me--the guy who plays the monk is not just comic, but really goofy and his characterization is uneven. The girl who plays Ling is stiff and uninteresting. The friction between the father and son over the divorce is old and trite. The set makes it look like you just bumble from one quaint hamlet to the next pristine archealogical find when you you visit China. I would set the appropriate age at 9 at the oldest.
Parent of a 8 year old Written byChare214 August 11, 2013

Great movie for 7 and up

This was a very good movie for kids 7 and up. Even younger can watch it because the violence is very minimum. The younger ages may not understand it. I watched it with my 8 year old son and we both really enjoyed it. I am not sure why it was rated 11 and up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old September 9, 2013

Funny Chinese Movie

The violence was expected, held a knife up to the boy's throat like in any movie there is a bad guy. They threw knives, but no guns in the movie. The dragon was a beautiful Chinese dragon with fuzzy eyebrows. Not scary at all. We watched this with little brothers and sisters age 2, 5, 7, 9, 11 and me 12. No one was scared. It was about an Australian boy and a Chinese girl but they are just friends. Hilarious monk helps the kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence