A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Dragon Wars: D-War

February 24, 2011

Dragon Wars: D-War

I admit that I never had any intention of buying this movie. I love a good cheesy movie, but I had been led to believe that this was a movie with no redeeming value. I distinctly remember at the time of this movie’s theatrical release that the producers refused to allow the reviewers in the press to see it before it came out. (Because they knew that the reviewers would in all likeliness not be kind.) The user review that appeared in IMDB today when I went to look the movie up said simply “Dragon Wars sucks.” But Amanda saw this at FYE during an “everything must go” closing sale and convinced me that our collection needed more cheese, so we bought it, and here it is.

What amazes me is that in point of fact this movie is hardly crap at all. Oh, it’s very poorly plotted and clumsily written, and has several unintentionally hilarious moments, but the effects are exceptionally good for a cheesy monster movie. (Compare them, for example, with Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus or Megalodon – these are a thousand times better.) The action is fun, if non-sensical. There’s even a sort of cool factor to watching helicopters and tanks doing battle with dinosaurs with rocket launchers strapped to their backs. Just because the movie sometimes has the feeling of having been written by a twelve year old boy does not necessarily make it unwatchable.

Our hero here is Ethan Kendrick, a reporter for a fictitious news network who dresses like he’s in the seventies. After seeing a giant reptilian scale at what is supposedly a natural gas explosion he has a flashback to when he was a young boy and he met a crazy antique dealer. In the flashback the antique dealer, Jack, tells young Ethan the backstory for the movie, which involves two mighty serpents in ancient Korea and the woman with the dragon tattoo (not that one) who has inside her the mystical energy they need to ascend to the heavens. Five hundred years ago in Korea the evil serpent had at his command a vast army of invulnerable warriors, flying dragons, velociraptor mounts and lumbering dinosaurs with rocket launchers. This giant army laid waste to the simple medeival village where the young woman Narin and her defender Haram live. Narin is supposed to have sacrificed herself so that the good serpent could ascend, but instead she and Haram flee, and ultimately the two of them die together rather than let the evil serpent get her power. Now, five hundred years later, the two of them have been resurrected as Ethan and Sarah Daniels. Sarah is about to turn twenty years old, which means that all the forces of darkness are out to find her, and the only hope for the world is that Ethan find her first.

The plot for the most part makes no sense. For example – there’s a scene about midway through that was clearly a pick-up done in post production where Sarah asks Ethan after one of their many close escapes from the giant evil serpent what happened to his friend Bruce, who had been driving the getaway car, because he’s simply not in the next few scenes. The two of them are in a hospital, then they’re on a beach, then they’re in a coffee shop, then they climb up the stairs of a skyscraper to catch a helicopter, then they go back down the stairs when the snake crashes the helicopter, then they try to drive to Mexico, and then for no particular reason they’re in an alternate dimension that looks suspiciously like the exterior for Orthanc. Sense is not to be had here. But there’s plenty of humor, epic battles and an angry giant snake smashing up all of Los Angeles. Amanda and I laughed out loud several times. Sometimes the jokes were even intentional.

It’s kind of apropriate that we watched this right after The Island because writer/Director Hyung-rae Shim would seem to have ambitions towards becoming the Korean Michael Bay. There are a lot of explosions. There are many, many expensive special effects. There are not one, but two Wilhelm screams. In short: this entire mess of a movie is one long collection of digital effects and battle scenes weakly held together by a flimsy plot. And yes, by the end, there’s even a dragon – which is extremely cool when it finally does show up.

I applaud Hyung-ray Shim. This movie is a crowning achievement in the world of mega cheese. The ultimate triumph of style over substance. Although I never would have willingly bought this movie without Amanda’s encouragement I’m happy to say that I’d watch it again with pleasure, and I’m actually glad we own it.

February 24, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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