Monday, January 28, 2008

Dragon Wars! Also known as D-Wars! Also known as garbage! (***3/10)

I was excited for Dragon Wars. As those of you who read my blog regularly know, I have a serious affinity for the terrible monster movies. Mammoth! Megalodon! Ice Spiders! Well, I am sad to say that Dragon Wars does not achieve even that level of camp. This movie was apparently made with a budget of 70 million dollars. Which means the special effects are very good. Too good, in fact. The dragons (which are really snakes and flying things and walking things) are not campy because they look real enough. But this begs the same question I have asked of countless multi-million dollar movies. If you are going to spend 70 million bucks on a film, why not leave out just one of those monster-attacking-a-city scenes and spend that extra million bucks on a real screenplay, and maybe decent actors? When you have no story, you have no movie, no matter how spectacular these effects may be.

I am currently sitting in my basement, trying to avoid Maury Povich. Today his episode is about girls who used to be geeky and ugly, with self-esteem issues, and boys made fun of them. Now, several years later, however, these girls have blossomed into good looking, slutty strippers and porn stars, with self-esteem issues, and they want to rub it in the face of the boys who formerly rejected them. And for some reason, none of the guys say things like "yeah, I'm still not interested...you're a hooker." So I am downstairs watching Frank Capra's briliant Mr. Deeds goes to town. Gary Cooper beats Maury Povich, hands down. And Maury Povich beats Dragon Wars, which is still on my mind. I just looked up the budget for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. It cost $806,774. Frank Capra was very worried at the time, as he had gone 5% over budget in crafting this classic. I then looked up the budget for that Adam Sandler remake that sucked so much. It was shot for a mere $50,000,000. I am trying really hard to figure out why. Since there were no real special effects, and the script was stolen from an essay written by a ten-year-old for English class, I can only assume that Winona Ryder earned $3,000,000, John Turturro earned $2,000,000, and Adam Sandler earned $44,000,000 for his role in the film. And $1,000,000 was spent on sandwiches.

That is a movie that certainly proves that big budget does not translate to better quality. Which brings me back to Dragon Wars. The movie is...I guess...about a young boy who walks past a box in an antique shop of some kind, and the box opens and turns blue, and then the proprietor of that shop (played by Robert Forster, who had his chance at a career after Tarantino cast him in Jackie Brown, but wasted it on movies such as this one) tells the boy that he is the reincarnation of a Korean dude. Then he tells a story about a Korean legend where a bad guy wants to be a dragon and a good guy needs to protect a girl who is pregnant with a child that will be needed to turn the bad guy into the dragon, but for some reason the bad guy wants to kill the girl, even though she has the child inside her, and instead the good guy and the girl die, and are reincarnated as this boy and some other girl. In modern Los Angeles. So, years later, the boy has grown into an impossibly handsome young reporter, and the girl is of course gorgeous. And works somewhere. Maybe.

Anyway, then some snakes show up and eat some elephants at the zoo, and start wrecking the city. The only way to stop them is to go to some cave. But they don't. They are taken by the snake and then have a big fight with some bad guys and some flying beasts. Then another snake shows up to attack the evil snake, and they have a big battle, full of snake-on-snake violence. Then some weird stuff happens, the old man is never heard from again, and a glow of light takes the heroine away. Sounds dumb, no? Well, I have included only the smartest parts of this film. How this film got it's 70 million dollar budget is beyond me. Don't you have to show someone a script, or have good actors in place, or something to justify that kind of money to a studio? Apparently not. And why, you ask, would I even bother writing about this garbage movie? Well, because no one ever, I assume, has used the words "crappy Korean monster movie" in the same review as the words "Frank Capra". Until now.

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