It’s been a while since I saw a legitimately bad movie. And no, I’m not counting The Flash or the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie. Today’s entry focuses on a Korean-made film called Dragon Wars, better formally known as Dragon Wars: D-War. I don’t get why the “D-War” was necessary in the title, since it just feels redundant, but whatever. But if you thought the title was generic enough, wait until you read the rest of the synopsis.
Ethan (played by Jason Behr) is a news reporter who comes across a dragon scale from an evil Imoogi named Buraki. He has a flashback to when he was a boy and met this old guy at an antique shop named Jack (played by Robert Forster) who tells him that he is the reincarnation of an ancient Korean warrior from 500 years ago. Said warrior fell in love with the daughter of a King who is fated to be sacrificed to the good Imoogi so that it can become a dragon and ascend to heaven. However, the two defied their destiny due to love and died. Now, Ethan must find the reincarnation of the girl, now named Sarah (played by Amanda Brooks), and help her reach the good Imoogi. As this is happening, the forces of Buraki arrive to wreak havoc upon Los Angeles in order to find Sarah to give that heaven ascending power to Buraki.
I know I’ve said this before in plenty of other reviews of bad movies with convoluted plots, but this is by far the most convoluted plot synopsis that I have written to this day. Literally when the first fifteen minutes are spent in an extended flashback within a flashback sequence, you know things aren’t going to get much better. And when we do get to the actual story, to say it’s bare bones is an understatement. There is practically nothing that goes on, save for boring exposition, boring characterization and bland action sequences which just involve the city of L.A. getting blown to hell by Buraki’s army. To me, this movie suffers the same fate as Michael Bay’s Transformers movies and Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing: if we don’t care about the characters, no amount of explosions and mindless action can keep us entertained. Both Ethan and Sarah are the blandest one dimensional characters that I've seen in a long time. Nothing, from their dialogue to their acting, is even minutely good enough to help make them worth caring about. It would help if the side characters were worthwhile, but no one really stands out. The closest person to having a character is actor Craig Robinson of The Office (2005-2013) fame, who has had a personality and character in pretty much every other thing he’s been in. Here though, he just doesn’t have enough of anything to even be a memorable side character.
Funnily enough, I remember when this movie first came out. I couldn't escape the advertisement for this movie anywhere; there was a trailer on nearly every channel and every video store I went to had at least one cardboard cutout of the movie poster. And almost every trailer that played and even the movie poster featured the two dragons fighting for dominance in L.A. And guess what? We never get to see that! The two dragons do fight, but it's at the very end, away from the city and completely shrouded in darkness. Speaking of which, you can’t even tell the two dragons apart. Throughout the entire fight, I was struggling to tell which was the good dragon and which was the bad one! Also, just where did the final battle take place? It looked like another dimension compared to the rest of the film and we never see how they got there. Not to mention the film just ends without us seeing Ethan and Sarah leave. We don’t even know where it is compared to L.A.! Why am I getting so worked up over this location? Because the movie is just that infuriating!
Now if the story seemed convoluted and nonsensical, then at least the special effects were good, right? Nope. To say that they looked like they came out of a PS2 game is being generous. The CGI in this movie makes The Scorpion King in The Mummy 2 look like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings! Possibly the worst example of the CG at work are the Dawdlers. What the fuck is a dawdler? The giant two-legged lizards with Multi Launch Rocket Systems mounted on their backs. They look absolutely atrocious, like they are rejects from The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Yeah, not even from a good Tolkien film! Meanwhile, the rest of Buraki’s army just looks like any generic fantasy army. The best way I can describe them is if you take the evil army from 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons and mix it with the army from Eragon. It’s so generic, that you can place them in literally any fantasy film and they’d still kind of fit in. Yeah, that forgettable.
Dragon Wars: D-War is just bad, plain and simple. It fails with its effects, story, acting, dialogue, literally everything! Now normally I would add a silver lining that makes a bad movie seem a tad bit promising but there really isn’t anything worthwhile here. Really the only way you can enjoy this movie is if you turn your brain off and knock back a couple of six packs. As of now, Dragon Wars sits on a rating of an abysmal 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. Due to this poor critical reception, you’d think that this is the end, right? Wrong. Dragon Wars made around $75 million worldwide on a budget of around $32 million. And in 2016, a sequel was announced to be in the works, although it’s apparently still in production as of today. With that said, do I have any high hopes for the hypothetical sequel? Not really. I just hope that the actual movie will match the poster for the movie.