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- Published on Amazon.com
Here's a piece of advice: if you have a movie called "Dragon Wars," it's probably not a good idea to save the dragon footage for the last five minutes. The rest of the film does showcase a number of other creatures, such as winged dinosaur-hybrids and things that vaguely resemble rhinos. We even get to see gigantic snakes that have the potential to become dragons. But where are the actual dragons? Why keep us waiting until the end? This is but one example of how hopelessly incompetent this film is; "Dragon Wars"--or "D-War," or whatever it's called--is an attempt but not an actual end result, an absolute mess filled with unconvincing special effects, horrendous performances, and a plot I neither understood nor cared about.
The film opens with a Los Angeles news reporter named Ethan Kendrick (Jason Behr) trying to get the latest scoop on an explosion. Not much is known about what happened; all anyone can determine is that a gigantic, odd-looking animal scale is found under the soil. From what animal, no one knows. But whatever it comes from, seeing it triggers a number of flashback sequences, the first of which takes place fifteen years ago, when Ethan was only a boy. He and his father enter a local antique shop and meet Jack (Robert Forester), the elusive owner. He notices a strange sight; as Ethan approaches a wooden chest, it opens and reveals a brilliant white light. This signals to Jack that Ethan a destined young boy.
With me so far? Because it only gets worse from here. After sending the father away (by faking a heart attack and begging for help), Jack tells Ethan of an ancient myth that dates back to sixteenth-century Korea. Apparently, titanic serpents called Inoogi are destined to become dragons. For its good deeds, an Inoogi is rewarded--it joins with the soul of a Yuh Yi Joo, after which it ascends to heaven. A Yuh Yi Joo, by the way, is a special girl born once every 500 years--she's recognizable because she has a red dragon tattooed on her left shoulder. Anyway, evil serpents called Buraki have always tried to stop Inoogi from ascending, and they use their minions to find the Yuh Yi Joo and destroy her. Such was the destiny of a young Korean girl back in the 1500s; she fell in love with the guard sworn to protect her, meaning she failed to meet with her destiny. Both the Inoogi and the Buraki remain roaming the earth, waiting for the next Yuh Yi Joo to be born.
I apologize for rambling, but I'm trying to make sense of this story. There's no reason why a ninety-minute film has to have this much crammed into it, especially since none of it is of any interest. If they wanted an escapist film, then they should have made an escapist film; forget the complex details and just give us something entertaining. You'd think that such a convoluted back-story would add a little something, but no, it doesn't. If there's a point to this film, then I have no idea what it is.
But back to the plot. As a boy, Ethan was told that the next Yuh Yi Joo will be a girl named Sarah, and at age twenty, she'll be old enough to converge with the Inoogi. He was also told that he must find and protect her, no matter what. He's then given a special talisman (what makes it special is anyone's guess). Now as an adult, Ethan uses his reporter's skills to track Sarah down; by "reporter's skills," I mean he has his monotone assistant, Bruce (Craig Robinson), do the work for him. This is when we finally meet Sarah (Amanda Brooks), a pretty young girl who was born with a red dragon tattooed on her left shoulder. After seeing news footage of Ethan at the explosion site, she begins to feel funny, as if she knows something terrible is going to happen. Of course, no one believes her, and she soon finds herself locked in a psychiatric ward.
The Buraki, meanwhile, is loose and hot on her trail. I don't bother questioning how it manages to find her, but I do wonder how an 800-foot long snake can go unnoticed until it attacks. How can something so large slither around buildings, over rooftops, and through streets without making even the tiniest noise? Never mind--the point is that it's after Sarah, and Ethan has to protect her from it. Through a series of laughably preposterous circumstances, they find each other and escape from the hospital. After battling the Buraki atop the Federal Building in Downtown Los Angeles, they witness the climactic fight between the Buraki and the Inoogi.
The FBI gets involved about halfway through the film, and at that point, my interest had completely faded. For reasons never adequately explained, they know everything about the dragons and Sarah. They also think that killing Sarah is the only solution to the problem. I wanted to tell these people that another problem exists, one that's even bigger than feuding dragons. The movie itself is the problem; "Dragon Wars" is mind-numbingly bad, the kind of bad that wouldn't even give rise to a cult classic. I wasn't expecting great cinematic art, but at the very least, the filmmakers could have tried to make a fun movie. After all, I just wanted to see some dragons. Was that too much to ask?