For New Yorkers, I think a dragon plaguing the sky and picking off pedestrians is the least of their worries. Q brings a horrifying premise of killer beasts and wraps it around a plot of a conman that inadvertently gambles with the lives of those around him. With information on where the next of Quetzalcoatl lies, he refuses to give it up until a hefty reward has been thrown his way. Whilst trying to coax a bit of cash out of the local police force, Powell (Richard Roundtree) and Shepard (David Carradine) stalk the streets, looking for any sort of clue that will point them in the direction of the horribly large, Claymation dragon that plagues the people of New York City.
What strikes me as odd is how immediately forgettable the film is. There’s nothing of value or note throughout a runtime that feels like a real slog, but in actual fact is a mere ninety minutes. Roundtree and Carradine, who are normally rather effective leads on their own, come together to bring absolutely zilch in the way of interest or talent. They fumble basic lines, have trouble with inducing even an ounce of conviction, and are ultimately horrendous. It’s a shame, since it’s without a doubt the fault of the somewhat lazy writing and pathetic direction, rather than the performers themselves. A wasted opportunity in bringing the two together, they don’t showcase any of their talents, nor do they have any memorable dialogue, something the two have frequently crossed paths with before.
Our leading man, though, is the worst of the bunch. Michael Moriarty’s performance may contextualise much of the happenings in the film, but his is a performance that cannot be explained away with faulty direction or flimsy writing. He gives it a good try, an attempt was made, and at the very least we should be lucky he’s trying to inject a bit of seriousness into a film that has an Aardman Animation knock-off biting the heads off of builders, pool-party attendees and sun-bathers. It’s not directed or written in a way that feels interesting, a real disconnect between the monster and storyline can be found almost immediately. Cohen’s direction does little to bring the two together, barely able to keep up with a rather simplistic story of crime and coercion.
A tremendous let-down, especially for a film that pairs up John Shaft with Bill from Kill Bill, the efforts of Larry Cohen are immediately perplexing in both script and direction. Much of the film feels lifeless, camera angles that feel clunky, and a monster whose appearance feels immediately dated, even for an early 80s project. Q is nowhere close to what I had first envisioned, expecting a horrible dragon plaguing the city of New York, I instead received a half-baked crime caper where David Carradine and Michael Moriarty wander aimlessly around the Big Apple, looking for something to do. It’s just a shame they never find it.