"What are you talking about?" says young Ethan (Cody Arens) as Jack (Robert Forster) attempts to tell him the Korean legend that is the backstory of Dragon Wars: D-War (aka D-War in its native Korea,) an absolutely absurd fantasy movie that tries to combine elements of The Lord of the Rings, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Godzilla into a cohesive plot. The attempt fails miserably but the film does manage to coax some of the best-looking special effects to come out of any studio in quite some time. It's a shame that the marvelous effects work is wasted on such a completely inane storyline.
Dragon Wars: D-War (2007)
Starring: Jason Behr, Amanda Brooks, and Robert Forster
Reporter Ethan Kendrick (Jason Behr) feels compelled to find and protect Sarah Daniels (Amanda Brooks) who, coincidentally, is being pursued by a large serpent creature. Once Ethan finds Sarah, they attempt to escape the serpent and a large number of other mythological creatures. Without even attempting to summarize the legend behind the story of Dragon Wars, I'll just say that it contains a myriad of methods to destroy parts of downtown Los Angeles.
This Korean-based production reportedly cost $70 million to produce. The huge number of nearly flawless CGI sequences is a testament to how much of the budget was effects-related. However, the script appears to have been an afterthought. It's as if writer/director Hyung-rae Shim had a series of imaginative visual sequences he wanted to see in a film and had no logical ideas on how to string them together. So, he just went with whatever popped into his mind first with little regard to whether or not anything made any sense. For example, take the scenes where an elephant at the zoo is tossed around like a toy, a serpent coils around a skyscraper as it pursues a helicopter, or the U.S. military battles a large army of armor-clad warriors in downtown L. A. If you were to write your own reasons for those scenes, they'd be just as likely to appear in Dragon Wars as the ones that made it on-screen. They might even make more sense than Shim's.
Dependable character actors Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), Elizabeth Peña (Jacob's Ladder) and Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield) all show up to provide familiar faces, if not stellar performances. Everyone involved, including leads Jason Behr and Amanda Brooks, does their best to overcome the material but it's all for naught.. For the audience, it's too extreme of a challenge to accept the story's premise -- even if you can manage to suspend your disbelief to allow for the dragons and fantasy elements -- because it doesn't make any sense.
Dragon Wars: D-War is a visual knockout but is impossible to recommend to anyone other than children who won't care if it makes any sense. However, it's PG13 rating may make it too intense for little ones.
Trivia: Craig Robinson, who plays Bruce, will be seen later this year in Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)