Rare Exports: D-War: Dragon Wars

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Alright, I might have had a bit of an issue with the old “consistency” rule of blogging. Sorry about that! But whatever the case, I and Rare Exports are back, and shall be back every week from now until the end of time (or until I go to college, whichever comes first). I’ll do two posts this week to close out October, so I’m not a complete failure and because I’m really excited about the next movie in this “Korean Monster Movie” series we (had) going.

Also, this post is late because the movie I watched this week, D-War: Dragon Wars, is a cinematic blackhole. Filmed in English with large budget, Dragon Wars was clearly created to be a hit in America, but something just went wrong in the process.  You watch it and your eyes glaze over. There’s so little to say about it because the movie is just completely empty. It’s bad, but not even in the fun way! Just in a vaguely depressing way. D-Wars is a complete disaster on just about every technical and creative level.

Remember that person in your high school English class who thought he was smarter than he actually was and really liked talking in class to prove to everyone how smart he was? That’s the plot of D-Wars, a tale so interested in drowning in it’s own exposition that it’s simultaneously obnoxious and confusing. We follow American reporter Ethan Kendrick, who is actually the reincarnation of an ancient warrior named Haram, who’s entrusted with protecting college student Sarah, the reincarnation of the mystic, Yeouiju.

Dragon_WarsYeouiji-Sarah has a magical tattoo that can turn small dragons into big dragons, so Ethan has to protect Sarah from the small dragons so they don’t turn into big dragons… or something. There’s also a dragon that can turn into a brooding tough guy for unclear reasons, and an old man who protects Ethan who is also good at kung fu. This isn’t exactly a strong premise, and D-Wars does it’s best to convey its dense amount of lore in the most uninteresting and confusing way imaginable. Do you love long flashback sequences laden with really boring exposition?  What about uninteresting characters that just magically seem to know everything about ancient mystical dragons without literally any reason for knowing so? What are your thoughts on constant deus ex machinas? If you said “yes,” then Dragon Wars is for you! For the rest of us, watching D-Wars is a painful, murky, and unenjoyable experience. And that’s nothing to say of actually understanding what’s happening.

But hey, you might say, this is a movie called Dragon Wars! So what if the story isn’t good, I just wanna see dragons who are at war with each other! And man, I feel you, I’d be down to watch dragons fight each other for 90 minutes. Here’s the thing though: Dragon Wars is a liar, a profound liar. Or, at the very least, the film is way more interested in examining the intricacies of its unexciting plot than having dragons fight each other, an event that only really happens in it’s short and disappointing climax. For the rest of the movie, the few action sequences primarily consist of Ethan-Haram and Yeouiji-Sarah trying to escape from the aforementioned small dragons, by way of really poorly-aged computer generated effects. These scenes lack much of a sense of danger, and even the actors look profoundly uninterested in what’s happening. And then dragons fight for like two seconds in Los Angeles and the movie ends. Come on, Dragon Wars, you were supposed to be cool.

Maybe it’s just because the title was kinda cool, but I actually wanted to like Dragon Wars. I really, really, really don’t though. Considering the movie was ostensibly created for American audiences, we can also add “lazy” to the list of the film’s offenses. Rather than have some snappy conclusion sentence for this column, here’s a list of stupid lines I wrote down from the movie:

  • “My boy has a curious imagination.”
  • “I know this isn’t easy to believe but here’s something that is harder to believe.”
  • “Dude, there’s like…thousands of Sarahs here.”
  • “Come on, girl.”
  • “That’s one for the headlines!”

  • You know that stuff about dragons and crystal spirits can’t be true.”

  • “I like Discover Channel too!”

Next Time: North Korea kidnaps its way into the genre with 1985’s Pulgasari. Like actually, the director and lead actress were both kidnapped. It’s weird. 

Words by Tom Bunting

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