I finally got around to seeing Dragon Wars: D-War, the South Korean film made with an entirely North American cast. I hate the term “so bad it’s good” because so often films that try to fit into this title are just bad. However, in rare instances the title fits the film. This is just such an occasion. This move is, for all intents and purposes, a South Korean movie. Shim Hyung-rae directed this film based on a Korean legend about dragons. basically this guy named Ethan is chosen to protect the Yeouiju (A woman named Sarah who bears a birthmark that looks exactly like a dragon tattoo) just long enough to deliver her to the “good dragon” the Imoogi. before the evil dragon gets to her. Naturally (as was the case in their past lives) Sarah and Ethan fall in love.
This movie has some of the most unintentionally hilarious situations and dialogue I have ever seen in a movie. I don’t even want to describe some of the lines because I wouldn’t do it justice. However, I will tell you about my favorite scene. At one point a zoo keeper is making the rounds at night. He hears a commotion coming from the elephants habitat and is almost crushed when one flies through the air and lands, badly wounded, right next to him. Basically, these dragons are giant, building sized snakes, they reduce elephants to the size of feeder mice. The reaction of the zoo keeper, and the awkward way he must maneuver around the “dying elephant” prop had me rolling. Another highlight was when all the FBI agents started leaving their cubicles to go out and find the dragon, and as one guy exits he whips a shotgun out of nowhere and loads it. Seriously, it’s a lot funnier when you see it.
The dialogue is…not stale, but feels like something was lost in translation. I have this theory about movies foreign films. I feel like I could watch a movie and think it was terrific, all while missing some major flaws that I chalk up to cultural differences and language barrier. This movie takes place in LA using an (almost) all English speaking cast, which makes this whole ordeal somewhat surreal by seeing some of these cultural differences seep through. Ethan looks like a GQ model, and dresses accordingly despite it’s inconvenience to the situation (seriously, he wears a sports coat, All. The. Time.) He also wears a medallion the size of a small dinner plate around his neck that no one seems to notice or address. It is tacky, but the actors are dedicated to a scripts that just feels unnatural.
As of 2007 this was the highest budget movie to ever come out of South Korea. I can’t help but assume that almost their entire 70 million dollar budget went to special effects. The dragons are awesome looking, despite the difficulty in distinguishing the “good dragon” from “the bad dragon” it’s fast paced and isn’t stingy on the eye candy, something that other “so bad they’re good” movies tends to do (I’m looking at you Shaks in Venice)
It’s short and ridiculous, well worth at least one watch. I mean, did you SEE the poster? If nothing else, watch it to see the strange way that this “Foreign Film” uses American actors and settings to tell it’s story. Also, it has fat lizards with rocket launchers on their backs.