Okay… When you see a film called Dragon Wars, I think you really should get to see, well, Dragons and Wars. Is that too much to ask? Seriously? I don’t want to give away the farm on this one, but really, you only get to see a dragon in the last few minutes and then, there’s only a short battle. Sure there are plenty of CG baddies during the preceding 90 minutes, but giant snakes do not a dragon make. In fact, the most impressive thing on the monster side are the dinosaurs which the ancient, evil Koreans ride when they are attacking a village, looking for the Yeo ui joo, a girl who is the embodiment of a mythical, wish-granting energy. That’s kinda where the plot starts and it doesn’t get any clearer from there.
The film opens with the aftermath of a huge explosion in downtown Los Angeles where a large, reptilian scale is found. No explanation is ever given for this devastation but it does lead to a flashback for investigative journalist Ethan Kendrick (Jason Behr) who knows, deep down inside, this all has something to do with him. He remembers a day fifteen years earlier when he first met Jack (Robert Forster), an antiques dealer who is also the reincarnation of an old Korean Mystic called Bochun. Jack tells Ethan (who, by the way, is also a reincarnated Korean warrior who screwed things up last time) the story, in very visual flashback within flashback style, of how the Yeo ui joo comes around once every 500 years and impersonates a girl, who, on her twentieth birthday, gives it up to an Imoogi, a giant serpent god who has been chosen through good deeds to become part of the celestial body. It is the Yeo ui joo which allows this to happen. Unfortunately, there’s a bad Imoogi named Buraki who wants the Yeo ui joo for himself and will stop at nothing to get it, including amassing an army of Cylon looking bad guys who ride dinosaurs and travel with giant slugs that have cannons on their backs. I wish I was making this up.
Back in the present, Ethan is charged with the task of finding the current Yeo ui joo, who turns out to be a hot chick named Sarah (Amanda Brooks) and naturally, Ethan falls for her. Of course, he does this while constantly saving her from the forces of Buraki which include a giant snake (able to eat a whole elephant) and all the aforementioned bad guys. The problem with all this is that at the end of it all, Sarah needs to die in order for the cycle to be broken. This is where Ethan screwed up last time. He killed both himself and the Yeo ui joo instead of sacrificing her to the good Imoogi. And with Sarah, he’s about to make the same mistake again.
Personally, I think there’s way too much thinking going on for a film like this. Sure the computer graphics are top notch, but in order to make Dragon Wars rise above the ranks of a Sci-Fi Original, we need better acting (Forster, in particular, is phoning this one in), a tighter script and, most importantly, warring dragons!
Final word here is wait for it on DVD. It’ll be out soon enough and then you can lament the film it might have been.
(Originally published at FirstShowing.net)