Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Dragon Wars: D-War" -- * * 1/2

“Everyone believes the time of dragons has past… but the time of dragons has just begun!”

Thus is the voiceover that opens “Dragon Wars: D-War,” an incompotently-made ball of terrible that is so thrillingly bad and free of irony that I challenge any moviegoer to not derive at least some sort of entertainment from it. This is the sort of movie that rarely gets afforded a theatrical release, but I’m so glad it did. This kind of inspired awfulness deserves to be seen on a big screen, preferably after ingesting as many mind-altering substances as possible.

I’m not sure that I completely followed the “plot,” but here’s what I got out of it: centuries ago in Korea, there were legions of giant serpents led by one big bad one. Somehow, they transformed into human form. Cut to modern times, where our blank-faced hero Ethan (Jason Behr) remembers being taught about the dragons by Robert Forster as a child. Ethan has some sort of special ability to stop the dragons. The dragons rise up, and start attacking the city Godzilla-style.

The rare movie that I’d say is being seen for mostly ironic purposes (it managed to make $5 million this weekend), “Dragon Wars” is, above all, a reminder—especially after watching “Snakes on a Plane”—that the best bad movies are the ones that actually think they’re good. Sure, it may be horrific nonsense about dragons and crystal spirits, but one couldn’t say there’s not creativity and imagination at work here. The film is merely idiotic at first—sticking just with giant serpents—but by its final third, it’s evolved into madcap chaos, complete with winged, fire-breathing creatures munching on helicopters, and giant, lumbering beasts with missile-launchers on their backs marching by Burger King.

The film is completely without irony (that’s what makes it delightful), but I refuse to believe the filmmakers had no sense of humor. I just can’t accept that they were able to shoot sequences of a gibberish-speaking overlord wielding a Toys’R’Us sword without cracking up. The acting and dialogue is cheesetastic to the nth degree, Forster in particular. The formerly-respected actor probably never thought he’d see the day he’d be asked to deliver lines like, “He was denied the honor of being declared an all-powerful dragon.”

That said, even as a grade-A turd (admittedly, it’s a turd covered in sequins), the film has missteps. Considering how unintentionally funny it is, it’s questionable why the writer/director Hyung-rae Shim felt the need to include “comic relief,” let alone comic relief in the form of a wisecracking negro (every black character here is “sassy”) and a wacky fat guy who everyone thinks is crazy for seeing dragons (“This thing stared at me like my ex-wife!”).

Also, the movie’s mismarketing left me mildly disappointed at the finished product. The poster, the tagline, as well as the title, indicate the movie is about dueling dragons fighting each other in our cities. Sadly, this never happens—they just attack us. But, oh, what glorious attacks they are. Aside from the madness that occupies the third act, the dragons’ first appearance in our world is truly hilarious. The head dragon makes his presence known by finding a zoo, chewing on, and then spitting out a charmingly (and blatantly) animatronic elephant.

Jam-packed with vaguely recognizable B-movie actors (Holmes Osbourne shows up at one point), and brandishing an ending where a character ascending into the heavens with a dragon, “Dragon Wars” is the type of movie that deserves to develop a cult following. Without an ounce of pretension, or genuine quality, it’s destined to be watched by groups of stoners for many years to come.


Blogger Jamie said...

Oh my God. Thank you.

3:14 PM  

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