Oh how cycles fly. We are coming up on the end of the punctuation cycle with only a couple options left. The rarest of the remaining choices is the hyphen/dash and lucky for us the SciFi/Fantasy entry provides a perfect film for that. That’s right, we’re (finally) watching D-War: Dragon Wars! This 2007 film is famous for its huge budget for a South Korean film (estimated at the time of the DVD release to be upwards of $100 million US) and its major release in the US market (over 2000 theaters). Despite a huge box office success in Korea and optimism for the US release, it ultimately bombed and was critically ridiculed. I remember hearing that it may be one of the worst films of all time, but hard to tell what its actual legacy is (because people have mostly forgotten about it). If our new and improved BMeTric has anything to say about it, we’re in for a wild ride! Let’s go!
D-War: Dragon Wars (2007) – BMeTric: 79.9
(Ha! That drop is hilarious. I guess maybe people were super into this guy in South Korea and it opening first in South Korea I assume. The BMeTric is gaudy, basically right at 80. That is the 98th percentile! Pretty impressive stuff for what is essentially a foreign film.)
Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – With a reported budget of $70 million, South Korea’s biggest production ever is a dopey B monster movie elevated (only slightly) by some impressive effects. What story there is revolves around a 500-year-old battle that is being reborn in contemporary L.A., where a young boy is imbued with the spirit of an ancient warrior in order to take on dreaded serpentlike creatures. There’s some fun in watching a flying Korean zoo take hold of the town, but that’s about it.
(Wait… that’s the plot of this film? It sounds like a kids movie. Like Eragon or something. Everything you read about this film suggests that the effects are impressive enough to take a terrible film and make it watchable. It’s got a lot to live up to.)
(That seriously looks like three different films. A kids film, a monster/action film, and a comedy film. All signs point to rididididididiculous. Also, about those effects… let’s just say I hope those were preliminary before they finalized them for theatrical release.)
Directors – Hyung-rae Shim – (BMT: Dragon Wars; Notes: Apparently this dude is a wildly popular South Korean comedian, but everything he’s in that’s crossed the Pacific has fallen flat so he’s unknown here.)
Writers – Hyung-rae Shim (written by) – (BMT: Dragon Wars; Notes: He seemingly didn’t pay his employees at his studio for a while and that was a big story in Korea, but then last year there was a report that China was funding a D-War sequel. So maybe he’s back, baby!)
Actors – Jason Behr – (Known For: Pleasantville; The Shipping News; BMT: Dragon Wars; Skinwalkers; The Grudge; Notes: Probably best known as a main character on Roswell. Hasn’t really acted much since he and his wife had a kid in 2013.)
Amanda Brooks – (BMT: Dragon Wars; The Canyons; My Best Friend’s Girl; Flightplan; Notes: Daughter of the songwriter of the titular song of You Light Up My Life. Critically panned and yet that song made the AFI’s list of top film songs of all time.)
Robert Forster – (Known For: The Case for Christ; Mulholland Drive; The Descendants; Jackie Brown; Olympus Has Fallen; Lucky Number Slevin; Me, Myself & Irene; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; The Black Hole; Middle Men; Like Mike; BMT: Dragon Wars; Psycho; Supernova; Rise; Survivor; Ghosts of Girlfriends Past; Firewall; The Delta Force; London Has Fallen; Autómata; Cleaner; Notes: Longtime character actor. Nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar for Jackie Brown.)
Budget/Gross – $35 million / Domestic: $10,977,721 (Worldwide: $75,108,998)
(That budget is not real. This was the initial budget. They went way over during production on the CGI and at the time of theatrical release it’s been estimated at closer to $75 million (before additional DVD CGI work pushed that even higher). This was at best a break-even affair and a huge disappointment in the US market.)
#12 for the Dragon – Focal Point of Movie genre
(Uninteresting plot so I’ll leave that alone. Dead last in this non-genre is something special. Below 1981’s Dragonslayer. Amazing.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 29% (10/35): Dragon Wars’ special effects can’t make up for an unfocused script and stale acting.
(… Am I looking at the same special effects. They look like only slightly better A Sound of Thundaaaaah CGI. By which I mean it all looks like garbage. I guess I’ll see. Maybe it will look better in glorious 4K. Joking though, I’m watching this in like 480p, probably stream it on my phone on airplane WiFi to get that real grainy quality I like.)
Poster – S-War: Sklog Wars (D+)
(Daaaang! Check out that Dutch angle. Even the title is angled. It’s also a little busy for my taste and the color scheme is pretty drab. The one positive is the unique font that would make S-War: Sklog Wars a tough photoshop.)
Tagline(s) – They’ve made our world their battleground (C-)
(This begs the question: where exactly are the dragons coming from? Apparently they are from a different world since they’re making our world their battleground. Please, please, please say they’re aliens.)
Keyword(s) – korean; Top Ten by BMeTric: 79.9 Dragon Wars (2007); 78.3 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009); 51.2 The Truth About Charlie (2002); 51.0 The Hot Chick (2002); 42.0 G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013); 39.9 Mafia! (1998); 33.2 The Gambler (III) (2014); 29.6 Best of the Best II (1993); 25.8 Ape (1976); 23.4 Lucy (I) (2014);
(Ha! APE. That is the movie that appears on the cover of The Official Razzie Movie Guide. That would be a nice one to do in some ill-conceived pre-1980 cycle. Don’t tempt me, it is a terrible idea. Hilarious list though.)
Notes – This marked the first Korean production in nearly three decades to receive wide theatrical release in the United States. (… I wonder if it was the last one. The Host and Snowpiercer come to mind, but they didn’t get over 500 theaters widest)
The music associated with Muraki and his army makes extensive use of the “Dies irae” melody, a medieval chant traditionally used in ceremonies for the dead and, since the nineteenth century, in contexts evoking the macabre and supernatural.
The leader of the ‘Artox Army’ is actually speaking in English, as evidenced by his mouth movements, although it is significantly garbled. (These are words. They certainly sound like a fun fact even if I don’t really know what they mean)