Kamen Rider Dragon Knight is an American Adaptation of Japanese tokusatsu show, Kamen Rider Ryuki, which is the twelth season of the Kamen Rider Franchise in Japan. The series was adapted by Adness Entertainment, and more specificialy by Steve Michael Wang. It stars Stephen Lunsford (@Lunsfuhd on Twitter. Please RT #Lunsford4Parker to get him the gig as the new Spiderman!) as the series main protagonist, Kit Taylor / Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. It also stars Matt Mullins as Tommy Oliver…i mean, Len (more on that comparison later) aka Kamen Rider Wing Knight. The main cast is rounded out by Aria Alistar who plays Maya Young / Kamen Rider Siren II, William O’Leary, who plays the villanous General Xaviax, and Carrie Reichenbach as the sultry Kase / Kamen Rider Siren. Kamen Rider is the OTHER insanely popular Japanese tokusatsu show, behind “Super Sentai”-which is of course the Japanese source for “Power Rangers”.
HISTORY LESSON: Growing up, I LOVED the Power Rangers, everything from Mighty Morphin to In Space was gold (yes, even the abysmal illogical mess that was Turbo.) I also loved all the crazy spin off’s Saban introduced, such as Big Bad Beetleborgs, VR Troopers, and even Masked Rider-which was the first attempt (and first failure) at adapting a Kamen Rider series. Masked Rider was based off Kamen Rider Black RX-which, is another fine choice for anybody looking for some good Japanese superhero action. So yes, I’m familar with both American bastardizations adapatations as well as their Japanese counterparts.
This blog, and the following handful of parts-will be based on the AMERICAN Product, Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, that resulted in using fight scenes / suits from Kamen Rider Ryuki. While some plot points may be similar, this is NOT a comparison between the American and Japanese shows. The American show should be able to stand on its own merits, or fail on its own merits. Before you ask, YES, I have watched all 50-some odd episodes of Kamen Rider Ryuki, as well as ALL the specials / movies / alternate endings / crazy what-for. Granted, I did so AFTER watching Dragon Knight the first time around.
So, without further ado-I welcome you to Part 1 of my Look Back at Kamen Rider Dragon Knight: Episodes
Before the show aired. a full length trailer was released by 4Kids Entertainment, to hype the show. The trailer made the show seem alot more ADULT than it actually was. Almost like Smallville meets Power Rangers. I was pumped.
[Official Full Length Kamen Rider Dragon Knight Trailer]
SEARCH FOR THE DRAGON is the first episode in our series, and we open up to Random Nameless Damsel walkingthrough a dark parking garage. DUN DUN DUNNN. We see monsters reflected in the mirror. She hears a noise, gasps, and the Monster grabs her, and slowly drags her to the mirror-all while the dim-witted security gaurd reads comic books. Suddenly, a shiney blue motorcycle comes flying through the mirror, hitting the monster in the back of the head, forcing it to let go of its victim. This is where we are introduced to KAMEN RIDER WING KNIGHT, the first of the dozen or so Riders we’ll see this series, and subsequently. He looks-obviously enough, like a knight. Decked out in black and navy blue. There is something VERY bad ass about him. Not quite sure what at this point-but we soon find out. The monster calls for backup, and we see a handful more of them pop out from the mirror, and the bad assery is about to begin! He proceeds to kick the monsters ass, ON HIS MOTORCYCLE OF DOOM-no less! and then finally sets out to do this on foot. The Security guard is confused, because you can’t see the Monsters unless you’ve been pulled into the Advent Void (will explain later.) So he calls the cops, seeing this crazy guy doing spin kicks in a parking garage with a motorcycle-all while dressed as Batman. I’d probably do the same honestly.
Anywho, he gets off his bike-and proceeds to KICK THE CRAP out of the monstes, after sticking an “Advent Card” into his sword-to summon…..another sword. Yeah, I never understood that one either, but whatever. Wing Knight de-morphs (or..whatever), and we are introduced to LEN. Bad ass sunglasses, bad ass leather jacket. This guy screams “i’m going to face-fuck you because of my awesomeness”. He checks on the hot chick he just saved from a monster raping, and drives away on his fancy dancy crotch rocket. He hears a metallic ringing (which is the sound of a monster in the area), and transforms IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET, and speeds away to fight the opening credits.
[Kamen Rider Dragon Knight – Opening Credits]
The theme song is BAD ASS. I mean seriously. It’s quite awesome, and envokes the simplicity and catchyness of the orginal “Go-Go-Power Rangers!”. From this point on, we’re introduced to KIT TAYLOR, (played by @Lunsfuhd), who is a troubled youth. Always getting in trouble. He’s being accused of stealing something that he didn’t, all while talking to his long lost father in the mirror-conviently right next to his Missing Persons poster. (plot point?) The detective gives him a ride home, after Ghost Dad says to “go home, and search for the Dragon” and to “get the contract card.” (plot point) Kit is obviously confused, as he is taken home by said detective. The rest of the episode flows nicely, in establishing Kit as the face of the show. He just turned 18, and is kicked out of the foster house to “go home”. He also conviently rides a crotch rocket, because apparently-it’s a requirement of every Kamen Rider.
We get a series of flashbacks, establishing the releationship between Kit and his long lost father. You can tell he’s the sympathetic face of the show from these first few minutes. He keeps seeing his father, who keeps telling him to “Find The Dragon.” So, moments after returning to his loft apartment, and looking at some old pictures, he finds a black deck. Confused, he looks it over, and pulls a card from it. Joker? Not quite, he pulled out the Seal Card! (DUN DUN DUN). Confused, he sets it down. He steps outside, after hearing his father-and BAM! is attacked by a red dragon! He begins hearing the same ear piercing rings that Len heard, and we cut to the Book Store-where we are introduced to Maya Young.
Maya is the female lead of the show (at least, the non super powered female lead). She works at her Aunt Grace’s bookstore, and blogs about conspiracy theories for a Website called WayAboveTopSecret.com. We are introduced to her minions-and recurring characters Aunt Grace, Trent, and Lacey. Trent is a prototypical “scene kid geek”, rockin’ the girl jeans and the emo care bear t-shirt. Lacey is somewhat superficial, and works at a “vintage clothes store”-which why her lock constantly changes. Maya and Trent have the most character growth of the B-Characters, as Maya even becomes a Kamen Rider briefly, and Trent turns into KRDK’s equivelent of Billy Cranston during Power Rangers Zeo.
The episode continues with Kit walking the streets, and seeing someone abducted by the giant spider monster-which nobody else seems to care about. We cut to Maya, whose recording voice notes into her voice recorder-regarding the opening sequence’s eventual police report. Monsters begin to stalk Maya, and they follow her into the alley. Kit tries to rescue her, but she of course can’t see them. Since Kit was attacked, he can now see the monsters. He shoves Maya out the way, but a monster shows up behind her-and drags her into the Advent Void. Kit fights off a horde of monsters, and…fails. Miserably. Maya is dragged into the Advent Void, and rescued by Len. Who then channels his best Tommy Oliver impression (see?) and KICKS THE CRAP OUT OF THE MONSTERS (unmorphed), in a scene that can be compared to the seen in “Green With Evil” where Tommy fights off a horde of Rita’s putties single handedly. Afterwards, he goes to Kit, trying to get the Advent Deck away from him, all while Maya is snapping pics of him and his bad assery. Len apparently threw Kits Wallet, after realizing it wasnt the Advent Deck. Maya gets it, reads his ID, and the search is on. Kit is then confronted by another spider monster, and falls into the Advent Void-for yet another RANDOM ENCOUNTER!! Kit is transformed into the “Blank Knight”-which is basically a pretty basic foot soldier armor. Len finds this out, and goes in after him-showing us the first OFFICIAL “Henshin” of the series. Len comes in, and together-we cut to stock footage from Ryuki, where Len and KIt (kinda sorta) fight off the spider monster, and “Vent” it (aka: Kill). Kit learns the secrets of the Advent Deck, and what the cards do (he’s a quick learner isnt he!). Len proceeds to kick the SHIT out of Spider Monster. The duo is attacked by the red dragon again, and they get blow’d up. In Tony Schivonie style-WE’RE OUTTA TIME! And we get a preview for next weeks episode.
Search for the Dragon did what it was supposed to do. It established the status quo. It introduced us to three of our main characters, and gave us just enough backstory on each of them to not be confused-but not enough to slow the pace down. Time for episode 2:
CONTRACT WITH THE DRAGON kicks off with a recap of last weeks episode. So people who missed it can be brought up to speed. I spent ALOT of time on Episode 1, because it needed it. From here on out, the episode synopsis will be a little bit more abbreviated. We find out that Kit and Len escaped the Dragon. They cut to the book store and Maya is doing some research on Kit. We find out Trent knows him, and says to stay away from him. He’s been bad news since his dad dissapeared (and the plot threads come together!) Maya starts putting 2 and 2 together to make 5, as we cut away to Len driving around, being all bad ass. Eventually, Kit and Len meet up, and the two have an arguement about Kit giving up the Advent Deck. He says he doesn’t want to. They sense a portal to Ventara opening, and race to help a man at a local power facility-whose being attacked by monsters. Kit tries to transform, in a comedic little twist, but fails epically. He hears his dad tell him about the contract card, and he eventually contracts with the red dragon. Kit saves Len and uses his Final Vent to destroy the monster. Maya offers to help Kit find his father, as he senses another portal open, and rushes off into battle-but is attacked by ANOTHER KAMEN RIDER?!?! Episode 2 serves its purpose as establishing Kit as the title hero, and setting up the alliance up between Len, Kit and Maya. Also teases a possible releationship between Trent and Maya. It also introduces us to Kamen Rider Incisor.
Episode 3 KAMEN RIDER INCISOR starts off with the usual EXTREMELY LONG recap. We find out the identity of Kamen Rider Incisor, it’s Richie Preston, whose a spoiled rich kid who was kicked out of his because he’s an irresponsible douche bag. This is the first mention of the series antagonist, General Xaviax-who we find out is recruiting people on Earth, to become his evil Kamen Riders. Xaviax appears as different people to everyone, and he appeared under the guise of Walter Connors. He promises to pay Richie a million dollars to kill vent Wing Knight. Kit is forced to retreat during his battle with Incisor, and Len see’s this happen. After alot of exposistion, and another Dragon Knight / Wing Knight vs Incisor battle. Richie retreats and we move onto episode 4. Episode 3 establishes Incisor’s backstory, as well as establishes Xaviax as the lead heel of the story. With so many characters (13 Riders and a clusterfuck of extra characters), you can expect this type of episode fairly often. This episode also introduces us to a new character named “JTC”-whose is a hacker whose trying to “help Maya with the information for her story”. So we get alot of character development, we get more teasing between Trent wanting to get into Maya’s pants-as well as a whole lotta backstory and character introductions. Plus some Emmy nomination worthy fight sequences to boot!
Episode 4 is titled “A RIDER’S CHALLENGE” is exposistion-palooza. Len explains the storybehind the Kamen Riders and that including him, there are 12 riders. After this little jam session, the duo fight a mirror monster, and defeat it with ease. Afterwards, we go back to Richie’s story thread-and his bike is repossed (again, EVERYBODY must ride motorcycles.) while Kit tries to learn more about his Advent Cards and Len is out on patrol when they hear a portal open. Maya, who has become the assistant of reporter Michelle Walsh-who is another blogger for WayAboveTopSecret.com, and one of the characters who aren’t really GOOD guys but not BAD GUYS. Maya witnesses Len transform and fight a mirror monster during an interview. After Kit arrives, Len spots Richie whom he identifies as Kamen Rider Incisor. Len challenges Richie to a one-on-one fight and vents him. After seeing Len pretty much KILL Richie, Kit returns home and doubts if he wants to remain a Kamen Rider. After leaving to fight a mirror monster, another Rider with an Ox Advent Deck appears on a motorcycle. Episode 4 further explains the suprisngly complex backstory of the KRDK Universe. It also teases the debut of Kamen Rider Torque. Episode 4 also leaves us with the first real glimpse of Xaviax, in his alien form, as well as a look at his lair of doom. The episode shows how dark the series goes, when the good guy, Len KILLS the bad guy Richie-who really wasn’t bad, just a douche bag. I don’t remember seeing Tommy ever kill anybody in Power Rangers, at least-not humans.
Episode 5 will be my last episode for today, THE POWER OF TWO. Kit racks up some points by battling a mirror monster, while being observed by one Drew Lansing. A con artist whose actually working for Xaviax. He’s the only person who Xaviax has been straight up with-as he promised to make him a general in his army of doom. Drew is Kamen Rider Torque. In the meantime-Maya tells Trent and Lacey, about the Kamen Riders, who shrug it off in a confused manner. General Xaviax reveals his plan to kidnap every human on Earth and use them to rebuild his home planet-which for some sick reason, doesn’t scare Drew, because he wants the power and respect that comes with being a general is Xaviax’s army. Meanwhile-at Stately Wayne Manor, Kit tells Maya about Incisor being vented by Len, who arrives at the bookstore looking for Kit. Kit tells Len he doesn’t want to be a Kamen Rider anymore. However, Len explains to Kit that he can’t quit because of his link with his Advent Beast. Hence the term: CONTRACT CARD. Following a battle, Len tells Kit that it was Xaviax who stole Ventara with help from a Kamen Rider turned traitor. Kit decides to join Len and help him stop Xaviax from taking Earth as well. This episode does a nice job of the slow build for Kamen Rider Torque, as well help build the relationship between Len and Kit rather well. It also builds the relationship between Drew and Xaviax at the same time. We establish the supporting cast of Trent and Lacey-who are now part of the grand scheme of things.
Overall, these first five episodes have built the status quo very well. We’ve learned the backstories of all the key characters, and seen our first Venting. We’ve established that Len is this shows Tommy Oliver, a complete and total bad ass. We’ve also learned that the stakes-at least at this point of the game-are VERY high, and they’re only going to escalate as the series progresses.
This is the point where I’m going to leave you for right now. We’ve covered the first five episodes of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. Thoughts? Feedback? Criticisms?
I’ll see you next time, when I go over KRDK: Episodes 6-10. HENSHIN!