Dragon Wars: D-War
Directed by Hyung-rae Shim. Starring Jason Behr, Amanda Brooks, Robert Forster, Aimee Garcia, Craig Robinson. (2007, PG-13, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 21, 2007
This South Korean pseudo-epic is some of the most ambitious crap I've ever seen. So much so that a mere 10 minutes in, you're likely to be scratching your head, as I was, over the complex mythological backstory, as explained in cheesily inscrutable style by Forster's character, Jack (of "Jack's Antiques," natch), while he floats in the air in the lotus position. Once shorn of its scaly, historical underpinnings, the plot goes something like this: There are good dragons and bad; both types are divine in nature and in need of two separate humans (Behr and Brooks) to render them celestial. Or something. None of that matters a lick, however, once the actual dragon combat begins. It contains long, entertaining takes of these serpentine reptiles wrapping themselves around downtown Los Angeles and plowing into quasi-Apache attack helicopters with their city-block-long tongues flicking while their talons grapple with the sidewalk cement. Ideally, Ethan and Sarah (Behr and Brooks) would be gobbled up by these snake gods in the first reel, but this isn't the case, and so we end up with the two actors doing little but mouthing reams of expository dialogue and doing even that badly. Forster is always a pleasure to watch and, lest we forget, has tangled with giant reptiles before, in the Lewis Teague-directed, John Sayles-scripted subversive monster flick Alligator, which, in all honesty, is a far better and infinitely more interesting film. Like the vast majority of Toho's Godzilla output (or Daiei's Gamera series), D-War is entertaining only when the giant monsters are onscreen, and it's here that Shim's film triumphs, if only briefly. Scores of CGI artisans labored on the film to bring the dragons to life, and it shows in near-flawless sequences crowded with computer-generated action (one flashback sequence involving two clashing, dragon-riding armies rivals anything in Lord of the Rings). But then a real, flesh-and-blood human being will wander into frame and spoil the whole illusion. Nuts to that.