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September 16, 2007 |

By Phillip Stephens | Film | September 16, 2007 |

My God, what a rancid puddle of goat-piss this movie was …

My first question is not why D-War/Dragon Wars/whatever-the-fuck was made, but how exactly it found its way to theaters when it probably doesn’t deserve double-billing with the Sci-Fi Channel’s Mansquito. Because that’s exactly what we have here — a plot that only exists in abstraction, strung together by a series of non-sequitur scenes and a horde of Z-list actors who recite dialogue that would give your ears AIDS, and tons and tons of computer imagery of wondrous things like giant cobras and cyborg-lizard-men riding dinosaurs with mounted rocket-launchers.


And I know, I know, it’s tough to pan a movie that just doesn’t fucking care. As an ardent fan of “MST3K” and so-bad-it’s-rad camp, I’m well acquainted with the kitsch joy to be found in bad movies, good mockery, and great alcohol. But those loveably bad movies all seemed to know their place - screened in the early A.M. or banished to the back of the rental store; we were the ones still empowered, still able to grant them the ability to humor us and, even better, not directly pay for. D-War somehow snuck into theaters with almost no one seeing a preview for it, which is easily explained when the movie offers nothing to stick in a trailer that wouldn’t provoke laughter or horror. Ubiquitous internet ads had to suffice, which, though they prominently featured dragons, couldn’t quite do justice to this goddamned, stinking pile of cockadookie.

The “story”: Ethan Kendrick, played by douchebag Jason Behr (who, incidentally, is rapidly ascending my personal shitlist after this delightful outing and Skinwalkers) is a soft-boiled reporter who stumbles onto a … well, a dragon attack, and then stops to wonder if it has something to do with the 11-lb flamboyant He-Man pendant he wears around his neck all the time. Ethan proffers a quick flashback: When he was just a little douche, he and his father visited an antique shop. When giant rays of light come shining down on lil’ E, the shop owner, Jack (Robert Forster), fakes a gas-attack to get his father to leave, then tells Ethan he’s the reincarnation of some magic dragon warrior (an obvious pedophiliac come-on, if you ask me). Jack then has his own flashback (a double-flashback? Allah save us!), weaving some sort of yarn about Korean superheroes fighting dragon-men so convoluted it would baffle Tolkien. The gist is that Ethan is the reincarnation of one of these figures, so Jack gives him said gay pendant and tells him to find his reincarnated girlfriend and defeat the bad guys. Why exactly a bunch of Korean legends would want to be reincarnated as the most boring honkies on the planet is beyond me, but anyway…

Back to the present: Lizard-ninjas begin destroying Los Angeles, so Ethan starts looking for the super-heroine who’ll supposedly save the world. After entering “nasty dragon-tattoo” into a search engine, he finds Sarah (Amanda Brooks), a lobotomized Barbie. The two meet, make out, and then run around as the monsters do battle with the military. After a while, the two end up in a climactic showdown with the baddies wherein Ethan’s gay pendant and Sarah’s magic hadouken help the good dragon defeat the evil giant cobra. I’m really not making this stuff up. I’m assuming that good prevailed and all that, but I don’t know: Near what I assumed to be the last ten minutes of the movie I walked out, drove to the nearest store and bought a fifth of Ancient Age (I’m on a budget, OK?) which is presently helping me through this retread. It was either that or attempt seppuku with my car-keys.

Apparently, D-Wars is of South Korean origin, directed by Shim Hyung-rae, and the biggest film to ever come from that fine nation. That many of the elements in D-Wars might be lost in translation could account for the film’s remarkable clumsiness, but not quite to this degree. Now, an open letter to South Korea: As a vagabond student, I’ve known a large number of your citizens and, to a person, they’ve been kind, intelligent, well-balanced people and after seeing some of the exceptional films of Kim Ji-Woon, Bong Joon-ho, and of course, Park Chan-wook, I’ve come to expect great things from your cinema. But after watching ¬D-War, I’m afraid I not only have to rescind these compliments, but to openly call for the genocide of all Koreans and their culture. In short, South Korea: You do a grave disservice to yourself by letting this Shim Hyung-rae make movies about you.

So, that’s all there is to say about D-War. It sucks, and not in the “totally rad” way you’d expect coming from a movie with lizard warriors and magic dragons. Due to some Satanic conjuring, the worst fantasy films ever made have been leaping giddily into theaters with the public’s newfound discovery of Tolkien and Lewis; it’s really unfortunate that this hopeful expansion of our imaginations has to come at the cost of inane and inept filmmaking. And guess what I saw in the previews for this film - A Dungeon Siege movie directed by Uwe Boll, starring Burt Reynolds. I’m going to kill myself with an axe …

Phillip Stephens is the lead critic for Pajiba. He lives in Fayetteville, AR.

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