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C-Cubed Movie Review: “Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons”

Hello, my friends.  As we venture our way through life, we ultimately have to make certain choices that can affect us in various ways.  Though we may not know it when we initially proceed with that decision, it could potentially lead to an unintended consequence on a grand scale.  For one particularly skilled assassin, he’s about to learn that lesson for himself.  On that note, we’ll be delving into a particular piece known as…

Written by J.M. DeMatteis and directed by Sung Jin Ahn, this was originally intended to be a 12-episode web series.  While the first episode did premiere upon the CW Seed on January 6, 2020, the rest of the initial plan never fully came to pass.  Thankfully, the story was able to be reworked into a movie and ultimately saw a release on both DVD & Blu-ray on August 4.  It’s also available to watch for free on the CW Seed at the time of this post, which is split in two parts.  So, what harrowing venture will our central soldier find himself in?  Let’s load up and head out to see for ourselves.

Following the title card, we open upon a beach at night.  Suddenly, a familiar figure washes up on shore.  However, he’s unconscious, severely bleeding and his mask has also been shattered.

From there, we truly begin with Slade Wilson (voiced by Det. Vick Mackey, the mid-2000s Thing & Capt. Nathanial Barnes himself, Michael Chiklis) who’s over in San Miguel for a business trip.  In a phone conversation with his family, his wife Adeline Kane (voiced by Caitlin Todd & Dr. Maura Isles herself, Sasha Alexander) expresses her anxiousness towards him being away from home.  Specifically, it was from a time when he slept with another woman over in Cambodia several years ago.  Not to mention, he was engaged to Addie at the time.  As she reminds him during a past moment where she unfortunately heard about this incident, “the scars” that were left from this moment “never go away”.  Slade assures her that he hasn’t lied to her ever since that incident and that he won’t lie to her anymore.

Just then, their son named Joseph Wilson (voiced by Asher Bishop) enters the cellular conversation and asks his father to read his favorite book to him.  Ultimately, he agrees as they take out their copies of a children’s book called “Knights & Dragons”.  In the story, the land was being ravaged and the innocent people were being terrorized by a thunder of dragons.  Fortunately, a Shining Knight arose to combat these foul beings by himself.  In the end, he emerged triumphant over his demonic foes before taking his leave “into legend, into lore”.

From there, Slade concludes his session with his son before promising Adeline that he’ll be on the first flight back home.  After concluding the call, Joseph asks for his mother to read him a different book.  Back with Wilson, he takes out a familiar outfit in preparation for his assignment.

Later, he sets his infiltration scheme into motion by taking out an observing sentry.  However, the guard managed to activate the intruder alarm before falling onto the ground, alerting his fellow soldiers.  Shortly afterwards, Slade arrives as Deathstroke The Terminator as he proceeds to swing over to an adjacent tower while taking out some gun-totting guards.  After arriving onto the other side and kicking a sentry through some walls, Slade does get shot by another guard before he manages to take him out.

From there, he jumps down and shoots several more soldiers before taking out the rest with a grenade.  Afterwards, he proceeds to make his way inside.

Back at the Wilson household, Adeline has finally gotten Joseph to bed.  Just as she exits his room however, she’s suddenly grabbed by her neck as a mysterious figure pins her to the wall before exclaiming that he’s arrived here for her son.

Back within the infiltrated compound, Deathstroke manages to swiftly execute two more sentries with his sword.  Even when three more guards confront him, Slade’s gory and bloodstained handiwork is enough to spook them off as he proceeds to head towards the main office.

Back at her house, Adeline proceeds to free herself from the mystery being’s grasp before kicking him onto the main floor.  From there, she proceeds to fight him.  Despite her best effort, the opposing figure ultimately defeats her with an electric shock from his suit.  Afterwards, he proceeds to cripple her while mentioning that she got lax in her hand-to-hand combat skills, especially since she used to lead “an elite squad within the Green Berets called Team 7” and trained Slade into becoming a “killing machine”.  Adeline tells him that her husband is a business man, but the being says that she doesn’t know everything.  From there, he calls himself the Jackal (voiced by Chris Jai Alex) before knocking her out with a kick to her face.

Meanwhile, Deathstroke finally reaches the main office of General Suarez (voiced by Cástulo Guerra).  However, the opposing figure was armed and waiting for him.  Thankfully, Slade manages to evade the opposing bullets before slicing up the guns and holding the official up at blade point.  It turns out that President Molina hired Deathstroke to execute Suarez for plotting to usurp him via revolution.  However, Slade reveals a twist as he reveals Molina’s decapitated head.  Afterwards, the four surviving sentries arrive as Suarez orders them to wait before expressing his confusion towards this sudden turn of events.

Deathstroke explains that President Molina “was an oppressive fascist” who turned San Miguel into a ravaged land of “poverty, hunger and disease” while he continued to gain financial power as a result.  Now that Suarez is in charge of the country, Slade warns him to do a better job than his predecessor.  If not, then he’ll return to execute him.  Before he takes his leave, Deathstroke takes out the four remaining sentries and demands his “fee”.

Later, Slade arrives back at his safehouse and extracts the bullets from his body.  During this, he has a video conversation with his ally named William Wintergreen (voiced by Colin Salmon).  Despite expressing his worry towards his longtime comrade, Wilson calmly demands for transport.  Shortly after his accelerated healing factor takes care of his bullet wounds, William tells him that the Army “got what they paid for” before Slade concludes their call.

From there, we flashback to when Wilson underwent the procedure.  Some time later, he’s resting up in his hospital bed as Adeline visits him.  In their conversation, it’s revealed that Slade had just survived a drug trial that he volunteered for.  He then tells her that he’ll be sent home in only a few days time, while she still has 14 more months of service left with the Army.  As such, he wants to try and create a life for themselves, especially since they’re engaged to each other.  After all, he says that he’s spent his whole life within the military as a “good soldier”, while Kane assures him that he’s more than that.

Some time after he’s arrived back home, he suddenly wakes up as the drug test begins to take a severe effect over him.  By the time that the morning arrives, he wakes up and feels a whole lot better.  He then takes a knife and cuts himself, only to discover that he has accelerated healing.  Later, he finds outs that he has enhanced strength as he ultimately hits a punching bag with enough force to severe it from its supporting rope.  Finally, he tests out his enhanced agility as he dodges some opposing gunfire before he defeats the gunman, who turned out to be William.  From there, he helps his comrade up before concluding their session.

Later, he’s made his way to Cambodia before he ultimately hangs out in a bar.  However, it’s here that he meets a kind-hearted waitress whom he begins to take a romantic interest in.  After they spend the day together, it ultimately ended with him having sex with her.  By the time that she wakes up, she discovers that he’s taken his leave.

We then shift back to the present as Slade arrives back at his home.  Shortly after he heads inside, he sees the damage within as he worriedly heads upstairs.  He finds Adeline within the messed-up remains of their son’s room as she tells him that the Jackal has kidnapped Joseph.  Not only that, but he would execute their son if she tried to call the cops.  Slade tries to act dumb and ask her who this mysterious figure is, but she slaps his face and berates him for keeping his profession as a hired assassin a secret from her.  Not only that, but she tells him everything that the Jackal knows about her husband.  Namely, the Army initially thought that the drug experiment that Slade volunteered for was a failure, thus discharging him.  However, it eventually kicked in and helped him become the signature mercenary that he is nowadays, with him keeping that profession a secret from his kin for several years under the guise of being a businessman.  Adeline asks him why he did all of this, but Slade calmly says that he’ll get their son back.  She says that she doesn’t need him as she tries to sit up, but she limps over due to the injuries inflicted upon her.  As such, she tells him to save Joseph, or else.

Later, Deathstroke arrives at an abandoned building where he ultimately confronts the Jackal and demands for his son back.  It turns out that Joseph is being used as a bargaining chip in order to get Slade to join H.I.V.E., which he refuses to accept.  From there, a pair of Jackal’s fellow agents emerge as he tells Deathstroke that his associates would love to use his lethal skills for them.  Slade calls out H.I.V.E. as terrorists, while Jackal describes them as “equal opportunity murderers” who offer their services for the right price and on a global scale than what Wilson’s on.  Slade chastises him for putting innocent people in harm’s way for the sake of H.I.V.E.’s goals, while Jackal says that they’re both murders and that Wilson’s own moral code is a simple “delusion”.  Even with his foe’s attempt to sway him over to H.I.V.E.’s side, Deathstroke still refuses the offer.  As such, he steps aside while he sends his agents (one of whom is Ben Turner a.k.a. Bronze Tiger, voiced by Delbert Hunt) to engage Wilson.

A fight breaks out as various blades clash against each other.  In the end, Slade manages to emerge victorious as he jams one sword into Ben’s right arm while stabbing the female agent through the chest.  Jackal reemerges within the glow of a massive console as the woman reaches out for him before succumbing to her fatal wound.  Wilson then throws her over to the Jackal’s feet as he looks over her newly-deceased corpse.  He then exclaims how she was “an extraordinary operative”, yet she and Bronze Tiger’s own “legendary” set of skills were bested.  Deathstroke then demands for his son back, but Jackal still wants him to make a choice: Either join H.I.V.E. or an agent will cut Joseph’s throat.

Slade chooses to immediately act as he slices off Ben’s arm before distracting the Jackal with a flash grenade.  After stabbing his foe through the chest, he then rushes over to save his son.  In the end, the H.I.V.E. agent was ultimately killed.  Unfortunately, Joseph’s neck was still slit.  Wilson promises his son that he won’t die as he carries him out while tossing some grenades behind him.  The explosion proceeds to set the building on fire as Bronze Tiger manages to drag Jackal’s body to a platform, where they manage to escape before the whole building goes up in flames.

Sometime later, Slade arrives at his son’s hospital room where he’s greeted by Adeline’s disapproving and anger-filled glare.  With Joseph recovering and his marriage having officially crumbled, Wilson takes his leave.  Through narration, he tells his son via a letter that he has to go away for a while.  After making a full-recovery, Joseph (now fully-mute) has been placed in a private school where he slowly begins to develop some powers of his own.  As the narrating letter continues, Slade tells his son that he’s been secretly embarking on worldwide ventures as “a knight” in order to combat evil and make sure that these fiends never harm him or his mother again.  During which, Adeline has been getting back into fighting shape.

We then shift ahead a decade later as a group of goons are playing cards within a rundown house.  Suddenly, one of the thugs gets shot as Deathstroke makes his presence felt.  After he executes the remaining goons, he soon gets hit himself by another gun-wielding felon.  However, he’s too nervous to pull the trigger again, allowing Slade to beat him up and slay him.

He then notices a nearby trail of blood leading up the stairs as he heads over to investigate.  However, he gets knocked back down by a muscular woman named Bora (voiced by Minae Noji) who proceeds to engage him.

Wilson quickly finds himself overtaken by her immense strength as she manages to repeatedly punch him into the wall.  When he’s then asked who sent him, he simply says that he got “paid a small fortune to liberate what’s hidden downstairs”.  He then stabs Bora’s leg, causing her to fall over.  He then clasps his hand over her face before revealing that he placed a live grenade into her mouth, taking her out in a small, yet bloody explosion.

From there, Deathstroke heads into the basement before discovering a hidden door, leading into a room where several young girls are being held in a human trafficking ring.  Slade then takes off his helmet to assure them that they’ll never be harmed again.  Eventually, the police arrive to escort the youthful women to safety as Wilson observes the scene from afar before heading out.

Later, he arrives back at his base as he discards his blood-soaked uniform and climbs into bed to rest while his accelerated healing deals with his wounds.  Suddenly, he gets contacted by an unknown caller.  Shortly afterwards, a video screen gets turned on as the mysterious person reveals herself to be the H.I.V.E. Queen (voiced by Faye Mata).  Slade asks how the organization is still around since he previously took it down, to which another screen turns on as she says that the group still exists, but had to go underground in order to regroup with several “independent cells” positioned all across the planet.  She then tells him that her “little cell” has taken a particular interest in him and his family.  With Slade having turned down their offer on multiple occasions, she then reveals that the group has kidnapped Joseph.  She even refers to Deathstroke as a simple “handgun”, while describing his son as “a nuclear bomb”.  As H.I.V.E.’s experiments shows Joseph displaying his newfound power, the H.I.V.E. Queen tells Slade that he’s responsible for his son’s capability and is amazed that he was unaware of it before concluding her transmission.

We then cut to the next day as Wilson meets up with his former wife Adeline within a park.  She explains that she chose the Switzerland-based school as a means to keep their son safe.  Not to mention, she was also unaware that the same Army-based drug experiment that affected Slade was the cause of Joseph’s burgeoning powers.  He informs her that their son has different abilities than him, mainly psychic, to which she exclaims that she had a feeling about it due to certain times where she felt as if their kid was in the same room as her.  They then chastise each other over who would’ve done a better job in keeping Joseph safe before Slade says that he’s been punished enough already by being kept out of their son’s life.  However, Adeline says that he never attempted to forgo her decision or even try to go see their son.  Either way, she says that Slade’s past has come back to haunt them again and they have to do something about it.  However, he doesn’t want her to get involved.  Thankfully, she proves that she’s been retuning her fighting skills ever since the Jackal’s initial attack, demonstrated by her tossing him onto the ground.  Despite that, he still refuses to let her join the mission.  From there, she gives him a good-luck kiss before he heads out.

We then move into a montage where Deathstroke proceeds to interrogate several H.I.V.E. agents who’re hiding out as regular civilians, even if one of them (Myshkin) took his own life to avoid Slade’s eventual wrath.

Eventually, he sneaks into the home of Col. Kapoor (voiced by Noshir Dalal) in order to interrogate him.  Even though he built his house through money that he acquired from his time with H.I.V.E., he says that he stopped working with them several years ago.  Slade tells him that the organization has returned and that he demands to know about a particular cell within the group.  Unbeknownst to him, Adeline is discreetly overhearing their conversation.  Wilson informs him that aside from Myshkin, every other operative that he came across managed to truthfully inform him and they were all left alive.  Kapoor says that aside from the occasional favor for H.I.V.E., in which he got paid every time, he wasn’t that deeply-connected to the organization.  In fact, he was glad to initially hear of H.I.V.E.’s original demise since he has a family to care for.  From there, Deathstroke gives Kapoor a cell phone in order to contact him if anything relevant pops up.  Later, Slade is back in his van as he infiltrates a call that the general has with Bronze Tiger, informing him where he needs to go.

Later on within the fictional nation of Kaznia, a civil war has rocked the country as Ben helps a faction of rebels shoot down some opposing jets.  Suddenly, he and the group are met upon by Deathstroke.  Turner explains to him that within this conflict between the northern and southern sides struggling to take control of their capital, he’s been working for both sides since both have offered plentiful paydays for his services.  However, Slade says that this action has lead to starving children and the death of innocent civilians.  Ben then surprises him with an uppercut as Wilson says that he just wanted to know where he can find H.I.V.E.’s headquarters.  However, a fight breaks out between them as Bronze Tiger fires a bazooka, where the sparks from an explosion ignites a trail of flammable liquid surrounding them.  During their scuffle, Ben informs Slade that the Jackal is also still alive.  It turns out that the fiend decided that the group needed to reorganize and regroup under new leadership while Wilson unintentionally helped him by slaying anyone who potentially opposed him.  However, Bronze Tiger left the group in order to become a freelance mercenary.  Afterwards, the fight concludes with Deathstroke plunging his sword into Ben’s prosthetic arm and severing it from his body.  Slade then demands to know the location of the H.I.V.E. Queen, to which Turner ultimately tells him that she’s hiding out in the Kerguelen Islands.  With that new piece of information, a jet pops in and picks up Wilson before flying off.  A rebel attempts to shoot it down, but Ben stops him by explaining that no one who ventured there has ever come back alive.  Suddenly, a missile is fired from the jet and strikes the base, taking out Bronze Tiger and his men.

During their flight, we learn that Deathstroke acquired this aircraft for Wintergreen due to someone owing him a favor.  Not only that, but William has since retired from MI6 and now only sees this kind of field work when he helps Slade with his missions.  With Joseph’s life on the line, they soon arrive at the outskirts of the Kerguelen Islands a.k.a. the Desolation Islands.  From there, Deathstroke equips himself with a scuba tank and proceeds to dive into the ocean.

As he begins to swim towards his destination, a small group of H.I.V.E. agents were hiding out below as they split up to surround him.  Meanwhile, the head agent fires a harpoon at him.  Fortunately, it misses as Slade fires back and takes out an opposing operative.  He’s soon met upon by a pair of agents as he takes one out, but gets caught in a struggle with another.  The lead agent swims in for the killing strike, but he’s suddenly eaten by a shark.  Wilson and the opposing operative soon find themselves surrounded by a small shiver.  Thankfully, Deathstroke frees himself and stabs the remaining operative.  From there, the sharks get drawn to his blood as they proceed to eat him.  While Slade resumes his swim towards the island, he’s unaware of his significant other heading towards there as well.

Wilson ultimately reaches the island and begins to make his way towards the base.  Suddenly, he’s met upon by a pair of spotlight-wielding drones where he’s confronted by Sandra Wu-San a.k.a. Lady Shiva (voiced by Panta Mosleh).  Just as she draws her swords and charges right towards him, he immediately surrenders himself.  She doesn’t accept his act, but gets contacted by the H.I.V.E. Queen to bring him to her.  As such, Shiva complies and escorts Slade into the base.

After reaching the central chamber of H.I.V.E.’s volcano-based headquarters, Deathstroke suddenly notices that the H.I.V.E. Queen is very young.  She then makes her way towards him and reveals her identity to him before calling him “a dinosaur whose time has passed” while she relieves him of his mask.  He then demands to know where his son is, to which she allows him to see his kin.

They arrive at his cell as the H.I.V.E. Queen explains that her organization is helping Joseph with his training in order to master his psychic power.  It’s then revealed that she and her group have their sights set towards “manipulation on a global scale through the power of the mind” and that they would conquer the world without any form of lethal combat.  Slade then calls out to his son, who remembers that fateful night a decade ago.

Shiva then hold Wilson at blade point as the H.I.V.E. Queen exclaims that with the group’s intent of tearing down the old order’s walls, they gave Joseph a new codename: Jericho (voiced by Griffin Puatu).  She then allows Slade to see his son, who telepathically asks his dad to save him.  Deathstroke agrees as he discreetly placed an explosive onto the cell wall.  By the time that the H.I.V.E. Queen notices it, she’s too late as the explosion knocks her and Shiva over.  After he picks up Joseph, he takes out the initial group of agents before making a mad dash towards the exit.

As they reach the central walkways, they’re initially caught in a projectile net and get forced off.  Fortunately, Wilson manages to cut his way out before grabbing onto a lower walkway.  Even though it shifts away from the adjacent door, Slade jumps towards it before using a grappling hook to swing back towards the entryway.

Unfortunately, he finds himself surrounded by a swarm of H.I.V.E. agents.  Just then, Joseph telepathically tells him that he can help.  From there, he unleashes a psionic blast that knocks out the opposing operatives, allowing him and his father to continue their dash towards freedom, while Wilson contacts William for transport.

After they reach an outside platform, Joseph uses his telekinesis to close the door.  Deathstroke then tries to contact Wintergreen, but his communicator gets damaged as Jericho soon reveals that he blocked his signal (even imitating his uncle’s voice for the fake transmission) and that he wouldn’t betray his own sister.  He then telepathically reminds his father that the waitress he had sex with all those years ago resulted in her giving birth to his daughter, who ended up becoming the H.I.V.E. Queen.

With Joseph fully-embracing his codename, Slade is soon met upon by Shiva and several H.I.V.E. agents.  From there, they open fire as Wilson gets hit by a barrage of bullets.  With him keeling over bloodied and mortally wounded, Shiva proceeds to push him off the platform and into the ocean.

From there, Slade proceeds to float within a silent void towards the bright lights of the afterlife.  He considers giving in to the tempting feeling of letting go, but his accelerated healing kicks in as he narrates that he can’t die yet, especially since he still needs to save his son.