Sunday, August 05, 2007

Putting the "D-" in D-War

Okay, I was wrong about Shim Hyung-rae's dragon tale D-WAR. It is not a guilty pleasure movie. It is not a movie for 10-year-olds. It is just plain old bad. Possibly -- just possibly -- amusing for university sophomore geeks who are really liquored up and/or burning through a garbage full of weed. But even for a mindless dork like myself, it was pretty brutal.


Fortunately for the producers and distributors, "good" is not a terribly important quality in getting people to go to the theaters. Exhibit A - HULK. Which, the more that I think about it, is an apt comparison. HULK was a lousy, lousy film, with bad CGI and a non-story. And Shim once starred in the not-so-classic film HYEONG-RAE AND THE HULK.

HULK pulled in $130 million or so at the US box office back in 2003, and D-WAR is apparently going to quite well, too (2.2 million admissions, as of Saturday night).

I assume I do not need to recount the plot at this point. It is widely known already... plus there is not much to recount. Big snake wants girl. TV news guy tries to keep girl from snake. There is much exposition. There are flashbacks. The flashbacks have flashbacks. Words like "Imoogi", "Baruki" and "Yowijoo" get mentioned a lot, but no one laughs. Finally the special effects kick in.

More than the wooden acting and silly story, the entire film has an odd, through-a-prism feel to it. It looks like an American action/fantasy film on the surface, you can recognize all the bits and pieces... but it feels constantly unreal from start to finish. As if the whole film was out of focus (mentally/metaphorically, that is). It was like an abstraction of an abstraction.

As far as design goes, it totally looked like LORD OF THE RINGS meets CHINESE GHOST STORY.

The best part of D-WAR, hands down, was Craig Robinson (who plays Darryl in THE OFFICE). He must have re-written all his lines, because they are the only natural-sounding, believable lines in the whole film. He was even funny in parts.

Second-best part - it is barely 90 minutes long. Down from the 107 minute version Variety reviewed last November (although it felt even longer than PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3: AT WORLD'S END).

Luckily, when I got home, I discovered that FOX-TV was showing a 16-hour BATTLESTAR GALACTICA marathon. A few episodes washed away the worst of the mental grime.


  • In happier news, nice article about Neil Gaiman's STARDUST at the New York Times. I hope the film is good.

  • And in other news, the latest Yangpa post is priceless.

    Mike said...

    How many tickets were actually sold to D-War?

    film 2.0 has 2.2 million
    Kobis 2.7 million
    KBS WORLD Radio 2.95 Million

    Does anyone have a real count?

    I recently have started to list on Twitch the weekly Korean Box O. # but with 3 different ones, which one is the most correct?

    c said...

    when i saw the many different trailers for this movie from fan-made to the actual trailer. the only thing that kept popping into my mind is that it looks just like a Sci-Fi movie, which is not good. if you don't know what Sci-Fi is well it is a cable channel that show science fiction and sometimes horror movies or televison shows(new and old---some even from other stations like reruns). anyway Sci-Fi also makes their own movies and televison show for their channel, which are very very cheesy. and that beings me back to D-war which is going to be called Dragon War in the US. this movie looks so cheesy i am getting heart-burn just from the trailer,but i will go see it because i am a big fan of korean movies and dramas. so i will see it once to help it make some money just like i did for The Host, which is a way better movie than what D-war looks like.