Batman: Soul of the Dragon is the latest animated film from the DC Universe to be released this Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD for home entertainment. The film is already available digitally. While the Dark Knight is the main character, the Year One-style story actually revolves around a quartet of DC characters, one of whom is Batman and the other three are the people he trained with during his time with Nanda Parbat. In the film, Batman (David Giuntoli), Richard Dragon (Mark Dacascos), Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White) and Lady Shiva (Kelly Hu) take on a cult led by one of their former colleagues from martial arts master Oh Sensei (James Hong).
Dragon’s Soul is one of the coolest and most innovative animated films in the long line of DC films on DVD, partly because it looks like a 1970s kung fu/action film, with references to Bruce Lee, James Bond, blaxploitation and other ideas and genres that are obviously out of place in a superhero film. Between that and the last Batman: The Death in the Family album, which allowed fans to choose their own path in the story, looks like Warner’s DC animation is getting really creative in their post-teen League of Darkness : Apocalypse War.
Kelly Hu joined the conversation about her role as Lady Shiva and reflected on her work in Washington, D.C., including her time as a white Chinese woman on the shooting range.
I think you’ve played five different roles in Washington so far….
Really? I forget everything too. Especially when it comes to animation, because when we record something, we only get to record for a day or two or so, and then sometimes we do an animation where it takes over a year to do the thing.
So I end up at Comic-Con, and a guy hands me a DVD and asks me to sign it, and I look at it, and I feel like I’m not a part of it. And they say: No, it’s you. You’re playing Lady Shiva.
It really happened – I was playing Batman and some guy in London or something gave me a DVD fix. And I was, I don’t think I was one of them. And he’s leaving. He must have looked at my IMDb and shown it to me. I was like, oh, okay.
Do you really enjoy playing these roles in animation? Because you’re obviously a very capable person in real life. And so I think every once in a while, man, it’s almost a waste for her to do it in animation where you can’t actually beat up somebody.
My body is very happy that it is only an animation. But I think having a martial arts background helps when playing a character who does as much action as this one. Because, of course, they play Michael Jai White and Mark Dacascos.
But it’s especially useful for girls, I think. Because if you have to make so much noise for the fights…. If you have the experience, it seems more realistic. I think for many women, this is probably the hardest part of creating a character in trouble: Does it really feel like you’re making a fighting noise?
So, many years ago, you were with Mark in the second Graves crib.
Oh, yeah! I think Mark and I have worked together a few times. We made films together in Russia. Yes. I remember. No, he’s a great guy, and he’s also from Hawaii. So we’re really connected.
You talk about how you do a lot of these things, and you forget that you did them all…. But doesn’t the uniqueness and strangeness of being such a cool kung fu pastiche from the 70s stand out a bit? How can I forget the one where I just winked and nodded at James Bond and Bruce Lee.
I guess I didn’t really notice until I saw it on the ADR. Because the first time, we don’t really have a lot of visuals to work with. So, I read the script, and it looks cool. But it wasn’t until I saw it that I realized how cool that seventies feel was. When you do these things, you often don’t know if what you’re doing is right until you see it on the camera or screen.
This… I was pleasantly surprised. It was amazing.
There’s a line in the film I should have told you about… Someone asked Bruce, but why haven’t you taken care of her yet? And he says: I’m working on it. Is there something funny about Lady Batman’s fear?
Oh, always. It’s always fun to be the girl who can beat up guys. And I seem to be playing a pattern with a lot of characters. I’m not sure what that says about me as a person, but…. A friend once told me that of all the people he knew, I was probably a murderer. I’ll take that as a compliment. But I’m not sure what that means.
That’s funny. I think because of the character I play on screen, I have a lot of those action and comic book roles. I do a lot of these behind the scenes roles in comics, animation, games and things like that. It’s funny how that translated from the screen to my backstage game.
What was it like to be such an important part of the first Arrowse? When I introduced Amell to you once, he had nothing but good things to say.
Oh, this is so great. He was a really good fit. I can’t wait to see where he goes because he really fits this role of Arrow. I hope he doesn’t get the writing is the curse of Superman that people can’t think of otherwise. Because he was perfect.
One of your first gigs was at the night court. Now that they’re giving it back, would you show up if they asked you to?
That would be nice. Because I played an Inuit character. I remember having to work with a joint that smelled so bad. Spoiled fish. As long as I don’t have to use the seal again, I’m happy to send them back to the night ceremony. And Richard Moll was even one of my judges in the Miss USA pageant. Did you know about this? I was in the Miss USA pageant and he was one of my judges. But he didn’t hit me right.