South Korea is a land of unparalleled beauty and rich cinematic language. Now why would they want to screw all that up by making an extraordinarily dreadful fantasy picture to compete in the worldwide film market? The short answer is money (perhaps the only answer), but the reality is that America does just fine making cringingly terrible special-effect extravaganzas, so back off, South Korea!
"Dragon Wars" (or "D-War" for those with less imagination) is a 70-million-dollar action spectacle in the vein of "Lord of the Rings" or, more accurately, a monster-budgeted episode of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." The film takes the viewer into the world of poor CGI and no-talent actors, hoping to weave a tale of mayhem so noisy, crowds won't notice the whole shebang barely makes sense, approaches continuity as a mere suggestion, and features nothing in the way of recognizable excitement.
Certainly kids will take to "D-War" with a more open mind. After all, the film is intended for those with an unlimited reservoir of big-screen forgiveness. Only a child could ignore the casting of vacant pretty boy Jason Behr in the lead role (my word, is that guy one horrible actor), keep up with a script that's pretty liberal passing around head-spinning mythical nuggets, and follow a plot that frankly I found completely baffling. Something about gigantic snake-like "Imoogis" and humdrum prophecies. Ah, who cares, really. It's all just used to eat away screentime before the titular battle heats up.
Now, when the dragons start to bust a move, "D-War" doesn't reach for epic intentions, just earsplitting chaos. Director Shim Hyung-rae piles on the explosions and crashing helicopters, futilely trying to out-Bay his American competition. Clearly the action would be far more effective and thrilling if "D-War" didn't suffer from a low-budget simplemindedness and muted visual ambition that usually mucks with Sci-Fi Channel movies ("D-War" will live a long life on a double bill with "Mansquito"). It's an Asian director trying to duplicate western nonsense, absent the crucial ego and glossy technical support afforded to the knuckleheads we have making movies here.
Watching the "Imoogis" wage their city-toppling campaign against man, spying Behr literally executing some "smell the fart" acting moves, and furiously trying to imagine what the hell "D-War" must've looked like in script form (assuming they had a script), I wasn't so much offended by the lack of quality of "D-War," just amazed that a filmmaker would put such effort into a losing proposition. Call it B-movie cheese or a perfect pre-teen matinee diversion, but one could never accuse "Dragon Wars" of possessing an ounce of legitimate fun.
For further online adventure, please visit brianorndorf.com