Reviewed by Tempest
No alternate review available
They've made our world their battleground.
What would happen if you asked elementary school children to make a movie script? Well, 75 million dollars later, you may end up with something resembling to Dragon War: D-War. This South Korean movie makes intensive uses of GCI and if some scenes will definitely remind you of other movies, then you are not alone. To name a few, the scene in Independence Day (1996) with people running away from the blast of the space ship gun, Godzilla (1998) with the scenes of Apache helicopters chasing monsters around and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) with the gungan army but with raptors as mount and giant multi-tube rocket launchers strapped on back of giant lizards instead of shield generators. I'm quite sure it's intended to be that way as a form of tribute to those movies.
No doubt that the special effects are simply amazing but the storyline while original and totally implausible, doesn't seem to make a lot of sense per moment (relying on deus ex machina more than once), especially toward the end. Of course, some parts (mainly at the beginning) are in Korean, so there is perhaps some story telling I have missed [for example, they never really explain (in English), the exact role of the amulet]. The dialog is simplistic and provides little character development. The transitions between scenes are sometime not as smooth as it should be and consequently, the acting suffers. On the bright side the CGI battle scenes look awesome and realistic.
This movie received a lot of criticisms, but honestly, I don't think it's a bad movie. The legend on which the movie is based provides an interesting starting point where it's hard to tell how it will end. Sure, it has its uninteresting moments and some plot issues but in general, it's still a movie well worth watching.
The story begins with scenes of a rather huge disaster in Los Angeles and a reporter named Ethan Kendrick (Jason Behr) is on the scene investigating. After a moment, the CSI unit founds some sort of scale and Ethan is sure he has seen this before and that it has something to do with him. Flashback fifteen years earlier; young Ethan is in an antic store with his father who is trying to sell a dagger while Ethan explores around. He come across a chest that open in front of him and surround him with strange light. At the same time, Jack (Robert Forster), the storeowner, pretends to have a heart attack and ask Ethan's dad to fetch help as a mean to be alone with Ethan. Jack having realized that the scale reacted in the presence of Ethan, decide to tell him an old Korean legend.
Long ago, there was creatures called "imoogies" living in the heaven and every 500 years, one imoogi was rewarded for his good deeds with a chance to become a Celestial dragon. In order to become a Celestial dragon, he needed to receive from the heaven the gift of "Yuh Yi Joo" whose strength and power allow him to transform. However, there was one of the great serpent that was evil; Buraki coveted the Yuh Yi Joo but the heaven wouldn't allow him to take it and hidden the Yuh Yi Joo on Earth. To protect it, they also send on Earth two of their best warriors: a boy named Haram (Hyun Jin Park) and his master Bochun (Ji-hwan Min). Unfortunately, Buraki also knew where to find the Yuh Yi Joo. The Yuh Yi Joo would become completely formed once its host (Narim, a baby girl) reaches the age of 20 years old and at that point any imoogi who possesses it could transform.
Twenty years later and before the maiden possessing the Yuh Yi Joo could be devoured by the good imoogi (the movie is based on a Korean legend, you know, virgin sacrifices to appease the gods), Haram (now adult) felt in love with Narim (Hyojin Ban) and the evil Buraki gathered all his forced to attack the city where she was hiding.
As said briefly in the introduction, Buraki has more than just a large number of soldiers clad in armor; he has raptor riders, large lizard-like creatures carrying giant rocket launchers on their back as well as fire breathing dragons. The city's defenses are quickly obliterated, the walls are breached and Buraki's soldiers gather the maiden of the village searching for the dragon mark on the shoulder of the woman possessing the Yuh Yi Joo. Narim was captured but Bochun and Haram managed to free her before she was taken to Buraki. However, instead of taking the woman to the good imoogi, Haram decided to flee with her and defy the rules of heaven. Buraki himself pursued them to the edge of a cliff, but the two lovers preferred to jump and die as lovers. Buraki was denied the power to become a dragon and thus had to wait 500 years for another chance.
Apparently, Jack is Bochun and young Ethan is Haram reincarnated in order to redeem himself and protect the Yuh Yi Joo and take her to the Grand Cave once she reach 20 years old. He tells him only her first name (Sarah) and that he will be able to recognize her because of the mark she has on her shoulder.
Back to the present, Ethan set up to look for Sarah (Amanda Brooks) but without her last name, the task appears very difficult. Meanwhile, Buraki and his Force Commander (Michael Shamus Wiles) are out seeking Yuh Yi Joo and creating havoc across the city.
The CGI is very good; all of the creatures look realistic in their movements and also when they interact with their environment. The giant serpent (imoogi) and his army look pretty good and menacing and even when projected in modern times, they look like people to be taken seriously and when clashing with the army, the battle seems quite real.
Aside this, the camera angles are right, the image is clear. Sometime when filming in dark places, it's difficult to clearly see what is going on, but then again it supposed to be dark and difficult to see places.
Sound & Music:
There isn't much to say about the music; in a lot of scenes there aren't any or just something very subtle playing in the background. When the music become more obvious, it's generally appropriate not particularly special or amazing but it's fine.
The characters in this movie aren't terribly credible in their behavior and have a rather limited dialog. Maybe it's because Shim Hyung-rae (the writer and director) is a former-comedian but you see several scenes where the characters aren't seriousin an overall story that is (or trying to be). Moreover, even these humorous scenes will probably not make a lot of people chuckles so switching back and forth between serious and lighthearted situations probably reflect poorly on the movie rather than enhance it. Aside this, there is very little character development.
Note: the overall is not an average, but more a general appreciation of the movie as a whole.
R a t i n g
|Images:||(8.0/10) - Very Good|
|Sound & Music:||(6.5/10) - Average|
|Story line:||(5.0/10) - Fair|
|Acting:||(5.0/10) - Fair|
|Innovation:||(7.0/10) - Good|
|Educational Value or|
Level of Wisdom:
|(3.5/10) - Poor|
|Overall:||(6.5/10) - Average
A rating of 5/10 should be considered as something not good but not bad either (# bad points = # good points).