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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Movie Review: Dragon Wars

Dragon Wars (or "D-War") is a terrible movie. And I say that not as a note of criticism but rather out of a sense of disappointment because it shouldn't be. In terms of presentation, D-War is excellent, boasting special effects and costuming on a level far above what should be expected of a B-movie. I even feel akward referring to it as a "B-movie" because again, I can't shake the impression that it could have been so much more.

I'm not going to write a full review because the story is so simple and yet so dull it's not worth covering in detail. Suffice it to say it involves dragons, destiny and war. Well, battle... I mean "war" denotes ongoing conflict between two parties consistantly. This story revolves around a single battle fought 500 years ago that ended inconclusively and was put on hiatus until the principle players were re-incarnated in the present, at which point it resumed.

The plot itself basically revolves around this simple concept: "Is that a 500 ft long snake smashing it's way through LA? Holy shit, it IS! RUN!" That's pretty much it. For like, a solid half hour of the film. Spot the snake, run, hide, look around, get spotted by the snake again, lather, rinse, repeat. This is interspersed with some other stuff involving the military, the governement, a psyche ward and an antique shop but it's all basically incidental. In a switcheroo, the plot points actually serve as padding to the running scenes which is... weird.

The best part of the film is actually in the beginning when we get the backstory. It takes place in a fictionalized 16th century Korea and basically involves the army of the evil serpent raiding the castle of a local lord to retrieve a princess in order to sacrifice her. The army consists of spectral soldiers clothed in dark armour with silver accents, it's officers riding mini T-rexes, supported by large, tadpole-like lizards with huge, multi-rocket bazookas on their backs and smaller, more western-style dragons that spit fireballs. It's VERY cool and nerdy in a Lord of the Rings kinda way. If the entire movie were about this quasi-historical version of Korea and culminated in this battle, it would be AWESOME. Unfortunately, it's not.

And that right there is D-War's biggest flaw in a nutshell. My advice to future film makers out there: When your movie's backstory is a better story than it's actual plot, MAKE IT THE MAIN STORY. Compaired to the intro, the entire rest of D-War feels like filler, right up til the end which (while kinda cool) isn't nearly as engrossing or well presented as the battle scene in the prologue. Also it doesn't make a lick of sense. Not one iota. There isn't enough poly filla on earth to patch the holes in this story.

So in summary, if you watch this movie, do yourself a favour: skip the opening sequence, fast forward about ten minutes until you get to the backstory, watch that until it ends and then turn it the fuck off. Trust me, you will be doing yourself a disservice if you watch any further. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

D(ragon) Wars gets a rating of:

1½ out of 4 STARS AND CONVINCES ME THAT CELESTIAL DRAGONS AND OPIUM GO TOGETHER LIKE BACON AND EGGS BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE DIRECTOR MUST HAVE BEEN SMOKING TO END A MOVIE LIKE THAT!

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