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Blu-ray Review

Dragon Wars


Starring (voice): Jason Behr, Amanda Brooks, Robert Forster and Chris Mulkey
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 19 May 2008

When reporter Ethan Kendrick investigates a series of natural disasters he discovers that mythical creatures are actually real and threatening modern-day Los Angeles. With the help of a girl connected to his past, Ethan must out run vicious monsters and a particularly dogged FBI agent who thinks he knows the key to saving LA...

By rights this film shouldn't even exist. The most expensive movie to come out of Korea is one man's dream - a dream he poured his heart and soul into. However, when you have one person dictating the look and feel of everything it's very easy for them to get too close and not see the flaws in their creation.

Dragon Wars (or D-War as it's now more commonly called) is a pretty awful movie, but one that could have been half decent if someone had pointed out to the writer/director that the script and acting were... well, to be frank, bloody terrible the majority of the time.

To be honest though, I don't know if the actors can really be blamed - as they are all universally bad - I think it's more a fault with the dialogue in the script. Believe me there are some of the worse lines ever committed to film in here. There's very little intentional humour in the movie either - what comedy there is is more down to poor acting and bad dialogue.

To be honest, I don't think Jason Behr was the best actor in the world to employ - he has about the world's lowest acting range (after Ricky Gervais). Don't get me wrong, I loved his character in Roswell (or Roswell High as we Brits decided to rename it for some unfathomable reason), but then he was playing an alien outsider who was moody and quiet. He plays pretty much the same character here, only without any redeemable qualities.

I had numerous issues with the movie. Most are anal ramblings, but including:

There's a scene where a building shakes and someone says: "Please tell me that was an earthquake." Surely they'd be more likely to say: "Please tell me that wasn't an earthquake." Not knowing that a giant snake is on the loose, surely the worse thing that could happen is an earthquake.

Then there's the fact that when Kendrick's car flips upside down he somehow magically goes from sitting in the driver's seat to hanging out of the passenger's side window.

But my favourite unexplainable scene involves the deployment of troops to tackle the giant snake. They track it to an old disused mine. There are helicopters flying all over the place and the soldiers enter the mine. They see the snake, look scared and run out. As they run away they pass a small group of dead men and several burnt out helicopters. How did that happen?

This was also the first movie where I noticed a Wilhelm Scream [do a Google search if you've no idea what this is] had been included - without having it pointed out to me - that's how bored I was by the actual plot.

The film opens with a few too many flashbacks. We meet the film's main character, Ethan Kendrick, then we quickly shoot back to when he was a young boy, and then shoot backwards to Korea in 1507, and again forwards 10-20 years. And while we're on the opening sequences, it would have been a lot better if Jason Behr hadn't been forced to provide a really pointless voice-over that is also really corny.

The CGI effects are, on the whole, pretty impressive. They're not universally great - some of them look more than a little half-finished - but they are just enough good scenes to make up for the poor ones.

Extras are pretty poor, especially considering this is a Blu-ray release. We get 5000 Years in the Making (18 min, 10 sec look at some of the press conference and interview material that takes us through the history of the film); Storyboard Comparison (11 min, 19 sec look at various scenes with original illustrations, rough effects and the finished scene all on the screen at the same time); Concept Gallery (slide show); and trailers for other movies.

To sum up: Even the heavy effects laden scenes can't save this movie from the brink of b-movie status. What's really sad is that it's obvious that the writer/director really poured his soul into a project that missed out on being a success because no one else went through the script and did a rewrite.

If you must buy this, then I'd go for the DVD release instead of the Blu-ray version.


Darren Rea

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