Sunday, January 27, 2008

D-Wars (2007) Film Review

If you've found yourself loafing around lately, wondering what ever happened to JACKIE BROWN's bail bondsman Max Cherry, or main alien Max from Fox's "Roswell," allow me to shift your attention to a little film called DRAGON WARS. Oh wait, I'm sorry, that's not hip enough for today's audiences--I meant D-WAR. Yeeeeah, that's better.

Max Cherry is Robert Forster, and Robert Forster is Jack, a wise old junk dealer with a nasty gash on his arm, a penchant for robe wearing, and a rather unhealthy interest in the fates of Ethan (Jason Behr) and Sarah (Amanda Brooks). Ethan is a television news reporter who looks like he spent so many hours practicing Blue Steel his face froze that way, as well as looking like he just fell out of a time machine from the 70's. Sarah is...well...this chick who is important because she was born with a gnarly little red dragon tattoo on her shoulder. Other than that, she has no skills, no brains, and is generally unlikeable.

And that's the problem with D-WAR--the characters are one-note cardboard cutouts, unrecognizable as real people, and just generally miserable to watch. Well, that's at least one of the problems. The biggest problem with this flick is the fact that there's no dragons in it, despite what the title suggests. With the title and the previews, we're presented a movie that while obviously cheesy, boasts a plethora of dragon-on-dragon crime that's sure to make our little hearts flutter with joy. But instead all we get is one big ugly poorly rendered CGI snake. Oh, the big ugly poorly rendered CGI snake has little ugly poorly rendered friends, like mini-dragoids and slow slugephant type thingies, but nothing remotely resembling any dragon I've ever seen.

ACK! A giant f'n snake ... in a dragon movie! I must be tripping balls, man.

Some of the shots of the big ugly poorly rendered CGI snake ripping up LA while chasing after our "heroes" are cool--the shot of it tearing through a parking garage is pretty stinking cool to look at, as an example--but we're never treated to the harsh realities of this snake's actions. We see cars flying, we see buildings crumble, we see debris fly everywhere, but we never see the snake actually kill people. The only time we see the snake sink its teeth into someone, it's a grab-bite-drop sorta deal. The big ugly poorly rendered CGI snake couldn't even eat the stinking person!

Continuity is any film's best friend, but don't tell that to writer/director Hyung-rae Shim. Apparently he finds it acceptable to have your regular LA citizens be care freely sipping lattes in coffee houses just hours after the city was attacked by deadly giant snake. I mean c'mon! Wouldn't the city be in an uproar after something like that? Do you really think folks would be in their right mind enough to put the pandemonium on pause long enough to get their caffeine fix? I sure don't.

Another issue with continuity is glaring in the earlier stages of the film when there appears to be some genuine attempts at slapstick or cheesy humor. Choices of acting styles, phrases of dialog, and a well timed scream by a big black man who just caught a stiff back hand all spring to mind as examples of a film fighting an identity crisis. Either D-WAR was supposed to be a serious tale based on an ancient Korean bedtime story, or it was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek CGI fest aimed at children, but fun enough for their parents, too. Unfortunately for all, because it never commits to one, it winds up being neither.

"You do realize starring in this movie is career suicide, right?"
"At least I don't look like Mr. T's little,
less talented brother, brother."
"Y'know what, if I wasn't already winded, I'd put this camera right up yo..."

I don't mean to come off as harsh as I do in this review. I'm sure Hyung-rae Shim is a wonderfully talented director in his native Korea. Maybe it's the cultural differences, maybe it's my bad (as in bad) movie well overflowing, maybe it's my time of the month, or maybe it's my desire to see good CGI driven films, not bad CGI driven films that look like the CGI in question is about a month away from being finished. Either way, I still don't like this movie.

ABNB! Rating: 1.5 out of 5 (I watched it so you don't have to, so don't let my sacrifice be in vein.)
For More Info: IMDb / Rotten Tomatoes / Wikipedia / Official Site

Hey, check out this nifty
movie poster
made just for the US!
Wow, that's not misleading at all!

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