“This one’s for connoisseurs of the ‘totally preposterous crap’ school of fantasy cinema. You know who you are: You have all the Warlock sequels on Laserdisc, the complete Leprechaun series on DVD, and go see Uwe Boll movies on opening weekend.” — Luke Y. Thompson of L.A. Weekly
Runtime: 1 hour, 30 min
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: Jason Behr, Amanda Brooks, Robert Forster, Jack Craig Robinson, Aimee Garcia
Amazon Link: Dragon Wars
SYNOPSIS: A young woman possesses the reincarnated power to transform a legendary giant serpent into an omnipotent, celestial dragon with her ultimate sacrifice. But the forces of darkness are out to seize the young woman while her reincarnated lover and his aged mentor stand in their way.
When viewing Dragon Wars, it should be noted to leave your brain at the door. That way, when you start hearing things involving good and evil dragons, reincarnated warriors, and such, you’ll just smile and watch the eye candy. This film is geared toward the sensibilities of young kids. In other words, my six and eight year-olds loved it. The story, what little there is, isn’t of much concern here. For the most part, Dragon Wars is actually kind of enjoyable, in a really dumb, cheesy kind of way – think of a Sci-Fi Channel original movie. As a matter of fact, the only uniquely interesting thing about the movie is that it isn’t an American production, but an Asian one, specifically South Korea.
Supposedly based on an ancient Korean legend, a 200-meter-long evil serpent called Buraki is denied a chance at immortality when two young lovers, who are to perform the ceremony, run away and leap to their deaths in 1507 AD. 500 years later in Los Angeles, the man is reincarnated as American news reporter Ethan (Jason Behr), who as a child was given a powerful pendant by an elderly antiques dealer named Jack (Robert Forster) and now has to find the reincarnated woman, Sarah (Amanda Brooks), before her 20th birthday.
“D-War” is a film that looks and sounds amazing, in theory, but the execution is so poor that you’ll rightfully feel that you’ve been cheated by the time the credits roll. The film’s human players are paper-thin caricatures and deliver cheap, insipid dialogue in scenes that rarely connect. More importantly, when you pay to see a movie called Dragon Wars, you expect it to, at least, live up to its title. The biggest flaw of Hyung-rae Shim’s film is that it barely even does that, focusing most of its energy on a mumbo-jumbo plot about destiny: Dialogue about fate and destiny peppered with more weird names than you can shake a stick at takes up about half the running time, and it just plain confusing. On more than one occasion, a character asks another, “what are you talking about?” and you get the impression that no one really knows the answer.
But you don’t come to a movie called Dragon Wars for the story or the performances. You want to see some tail stomping and some flame throwing. And for a few minutes in the final reel, D-Wars delivers. There are two sequences – an attack on Los Angeles by the armies of evil and the final battle between the good and bad dragon – where D-War finally delivers. In fact, the attack sequence is clearly what the entire film was built around; an impressive battle between flying creatures and helicopters that almost feels like it was transported from a better movie.
“D-War” unfortunately comes off as cousin to the American adaptation of “Godzilla” (1998) than anything that is uniquely Korean. Also, the story seems to take itself a little too seriously, the acting and direction seem mediocre at best, and the execution is flawed; maybe the director was trying to do too much without really working out the material in greater detail first.
All in all, Dragon Wars is what it is, and if you’re interested in it for whatever reasons, then chances are that you know what you’re getting here: Another “B”-grade monster movie. With no blood or nudity, virtually no bad language, and monsters galore, Shim’s picture is suitable for youngsters and delivers enough goofy fun to keep adults from getting too restless. When asked why they liked the movie, my children replied, “because it has giant dragons,” and for kids that’s a perfectly fine rationale.
Goozlepipe Rating:Liked it
“I thought you of all people would appreciate efforts to deconstruct the colonialist paternalistic agrarian hierarchy that disenfranchises the Tanga te Whenua and erodes the natural resources of Aotearoa.”
Runtime: 1 hour, 27 min
Genre: Horror, Comedy
MPAA Rating: R
Starring: Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Peter Feeney, Tammy Davis, Glenis Levestam, Tandi Wright, Oliver Driver, Matthew Chamberlain
Amazon Link: Black Sheep
SYNOPSIS: An experiment gone horribly wrong turns flocks of docile sheep into zombie sheep in this black comedy by Jonathan King. When the death of his father and probataphobia, fear of sheep, brings him to the verge of a nervous breakdown, skilled farmer, Henry Oldfield (Nathan Meister), leaves the family farm. Fifteen years later, Henry discovers that his brother, Angus (Peter Feeney), has been performing genetic experiments on the sheep. Unfortunately for both the brothers and everyone else, the experiments have produced a strain of sheep that crave human flesh and will stop at nothing to satisfy their hunger.
In New Zealand, there are more 10 sheep for every person. Therefore, it can be assumed that it was only a matter of time before someone from that part of the world made a movie about the sheep. That person is Jonathan King. And as far black comedies go, King’s zombie sheep flick reminds viewers a great of deal of Edgar Wright’s zom com, Shaun of the Dead.
The Oldfield farm has been in the family for a hundred years but when dad dies, younger brother Henry moves away with a vicious phobia of sheep leaving older, evil brother Angus to mind the farm. Unfortunately, Angus has no interest in traditional farming and has adopts a genetic program to create a better sheep: the Oldfield.
When a pair of well-intentioned animal rights activists accidentally release one of the mutant sheep, they unwittingly trigger an ovine massacre. One bite from one of these genetic freaks has the power to turn regular sheep into rampaging bloodthirsty beasts Humans bitten are transformed into a monstrous were-sheep.
Now Henry has to overcome more than his phobia as he faces flesh-eating sheep with blood-soaked muzzles. He gets some help from the local farmhand Tucker (Tammy Davis) and a cute vegan named Experience (Danielle Mason).
Black Sheep is a horror-comedy, light on the horror (not the gore) and heavy on the comedy. Director Jonathan King wastes no time plunging in full-scale: The blood is hot and copious, the wool white and fluffy, and the dialogue and situations every bit as silly as you might expect. Black Sheep is more of a gross-out black comedy than a smartly crafted take on the zombie genre. But the film definitely has many hilarious moments. I give King credit for a clever twist on the zombie/gore formula; however, this isn’t the first time that warm and fuzzy creatures have turned lethal. There’s the killer rabbit from Monty Python’s Holy Grail and the unforgettable Night of the Lepus. Nonetheless, Black Sheep does deserve kudos for taking the genre to a nasty yet grossly funny extreme: Its a film that’s not sheepish about gore or the violence of the lambs. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.