What is the deal with Films from the Basement? Its a pretty typical story actually. Since early 2000, I have been locked in the basement of what would eventually become The Nerd Mentality offices. I never saw sunlight or ate real food in that entire time, but I did have an allowance of $3 a week. I used this money to buy films to preserve my sanity. Unfortunately, with the budget being so low, I was only able to afford the cheapest, most terrible films and instructional videos available to mankind. The majority of people have never seen or even heard about these films. Now that I have been released from the basement, I will be able to unleash these monstrosities and take over the wor … er, I mean, I will be able to share them with the world by the power of the internet. Join me, won’t you, as we delve into Films from the Basement! This time we will be looking at the 2007 film Dragon Wars: D-War!
My buddy Rich came down to the basement the other day with a gift in his hand (no Seth, it wasn’t that in his hand; get your mind out of the gutter). It was a Blu-ray! I’ve been watching so many terrible quality DVD films that I thought it would be a welcome relief to see something of a higher quality. Rich had brought me the Korean film Dragon Wars: D-War. My first impressions of the cover are mixed. The Giant monsters look fun but what is with that title? What exactly does the D stand for in D-War? Do we have a Manos: The Hands of Fate scenario (translated it is literally Hands: The Hands of Fate) so that it is really Dragon Wars: Dragon War? Or does the D stand for dick? Did Rich really just give me a movie about cock fighting Dragons? My interest is piqued to say the least (hopefully it stands for Dildo War). I decided to insert the disc. No Seth, I inserted it in the Blu-ray player not a bodily orifice … geez, what is it with you?
Usually I don’t watch trailers or read the back of the movie case because the story is spoiled so many times. However, as I was opening the case to put the Blu-ray disc in my player I noticed two things. The first thing I noticed is that the tag line for the movie is “They’ve made our world their battleground”. Great, now I already know these Dragons are aliens and I hope that is not some surprise in the film. Which brings me to the second point: the monsters aren’t dragons. They look like giant snakes. I mean, one is clearly wrapped multiple times around a building. Do the filmmakers not know what a dragon is? I can almost hear you screaming from the internet while reading this. You are probably saying “Hey dumb ass, these aren’t dragons from D&D but traditional Chinese dragons.” Of course, at that point I’d have to laugh at you for mentioning that and then point out the fact that the cover art shows no arms or legs for the “dragons”. You’d then shrug your shoulders and wonder why you are sitting there in your underwear, eating Cheetos while reading about some guy obviously having a fake argument in his own head. Ok, I think I’m ready to sit down and watch this movie now.
The movie starts with some voice over and some jaunty generic music (think Celine Dion in Titanic), and we are told that every 500 years a special woman is born. The magic voice also tells us that a good spirit will protect the universe, but a bad spirit will try to destroy the world. Is the good spirit just way more ambitious than the bad one? The backstory already causes my brain to have so many unanswered questions, but I’ll just ignore them for now and let the narration plod on. The title screen pops up and it looks to me like the film is supposed to be titled D-War Dragon Wars … I just wish they would make up their mind! My continuity senses are tingling.
The action opens with a ranting dirty hobo talking about how the “beast has arisen” while being carted off by the police. I’m going to guess his problem is more than just morning wood because a somewhat important looking guy with a Beatles haircut steps out of his mom’s work vehicle to survey some damage in what looks to be a rock quarry. In what can only be described as a poor man’s Demetri Martin the “man” walking up is apparently our main character, Ethan Kendrick, a reporter from CGNN. He is talking to a member of the police (Chris Mulkey from Twin Peaks!) and is basically told to mind his own business. I feel already that I have written more than the script writers have. Anyway, our “reporter” has a hunch that there is something special about this story … because he saw a guy brushing off some dirt in a pit that reminds him of something that he saw as a little kid and somehow his necklace tells him that it has something to do with him specifically. I mean what are the chances right?
Of course we flash back fifteen years in the past, so we can see little Ethan as a child remember the story. He is walking around a place called “Jack’s Antiques” and ends up standing in front of a chest. Just by looking at it the lock breaks and flies off. I look at the timer on my player and notice is is only 4 minutes into the movie. This is going to be a long one. The chest opens by itself to reveal a fossil of some sort with what looks to be a calendar and a bunch of writing. Did the filmmaker forget that they just did a voice-over not 4 minutes ago TELLING us exactly why the “dragons” are here? This little section actually feels more like a children’s movie; part Gremlins and part NeverEnding Story with zero nostalgia or fun.
Basically what the story is telling us (and already did tell us with a 2 second flashback earlier) is that Ethan has some significance to what is going on with the dragons. You know, I just realized that Jack is Robert Forster (another David Lynch regular). What is it with these decent actors slumming it in a shitty fantasy movie? Anyway, the scene has to be over, right? I mean it has to be since the point was made long long long ago? Oh no, not even close. Jack fakes a heart attack to get Ethan’s dad out of the shop, and then starts telling Ethan about the story behind the chest, the magic light, and the fossil. It is your typical fantasy/religious mumbo jumbo that crumbles upon any scrutiny or questioning, so of course the little kid thinks it’s all amazing. The problem with this story is it takes 15 minutes to tell it. So we have to imagine Jack telling young Ethan about all of this boring ridiculous shit, all alone in a dark store. It was cool when Peter Falk was reading the book to Fred Savage but here it is pretty creepy.
Within the first 10 minutes of this movie we have switched main actors 3 times, so obviously at this point we still don’t care about anything that is happening. The CGI is also poor, almost MS Paint quality; I think they must have hired George Lucas. There are a couple decent practical explosions with the ancient village but everything else is pretty mind numbing since it means nothing. There are a few times when the picture quality actually looks fine and you can tell it is professionally shot. It is just the story, plot, special effects and acting are all pretty terrible( or at the very least average for a low budget film). Jack, aka” Mr. Exposition” gives Ethan everything the plot will entail and his motivation for the remainder of the movie, so there is no need for Ethan to emote or act for the rest of the film (and he doesn’t).
I swear there are scene changes every 10 seconds. There is a girl named Sarah working out, then suddenly she is at home looking through a book with Asian writing, then there is a scene at a lab with a scientist saying that the scale is organic and harder than diamonds, then a scene with Jack floating in his store, then a scene with a guy with white hair dressed in black who can phase through doors (obviously the bad guy) and then it goes back to an apartment. All of this happens seemingly in less than a minute of screen time. I guess the editor was paid by amount of cuts. By the way, do you think they named the main girl Sarah because of a reference to Labyrinth or Terminator?
There is a fun little part where Sarah is leaving a bar to go home because she isn’t feeling good and a group of guys come up to seemingly rape or rob her and Jack just shows up out of nowhere, beats the shit out of them and walks away. It all happens in a few seconds and the story just moves on to another scene and Jack never fights another person again. It’s all very surreal and weird that someone thought this was a good way to make a film. The interesting or fun parts flash by so quick and the boring, plodding parts seem to go on forever.
We skip back and forth between day dreams and zoo keepers and the news, seemingly with every blink of the eye. Sarah’s tattoo burns while she dreams, just like Rowsdower’s tattoo did in Final Sacrifice. That really isn’t a comparison that you want your audience to have to make. Sarah gets taken to the hospital and we see a cameo by Retta from Parks and Recreation. Seriously, the most interesting thing so far about this movie have been the minor actors I’ve recognized from much better things. Apparently the hospital cannot afford lighting because all of the hallways and backgrounds are in complete darkness. It really bugs me when movies are lit this way, but that is a topic for a different discussion.
Finally the snake shows up and kills a character but it is all very unappealing. I don’t mean in a gory disgusting way, but in a “meh, who cares” sort of way. There is no satisfaction or fun in the death and it happens rather quickly. The film just plods along with people talking and hospital visits. I really started to zone out hoping that something fun or interesting would happen. I was just begging the bad guy to jump in and kill everyone so I could turn this whole thing off. Unfortunately I was not even halfway through the film.
Finally, after watching this thing for 40 years, the two main characters meet each other. She is a girl in a quarantine ward that looks like a psych ward, he is a news reporter that is not there to write a story. You can’t make this stuff up folks. I mean, I guess actually you can, since this whole movie is made up, but you get the point, right? I also can’t believe that in this entire city, no one else has seen the giant snake eating stuff at the zoo or killing people in the neighborhood or surrounding an entire hospital. The police are nowhere to be found. Also, the day and night cycles seem to wildly change from scene to scene. This is the kind of movie that rewards people paying attention to it by giving them aneurysms.
The race is on! The snake and our random evil baddie start chasing Ethan, Sarah and Darryl from The Office. There’s a getaway scene in a parking garage, and the evil bad guy gets run over in the street. Of course the car won’t start now, but they get away easily.
A bad guy army shows up and lots of CGI boredom ensues. There is a great deal of dialogue of the main characters saying “I don’t know”. I think the writers were out taking a lunch break and the director just decided to film anyway. Even though Ethan knows the whole story, they drag out telling Sarah about her part in it. We keep seeing the FBI trying to figure out what the snake thing is … but the AUDIENCE ALREADY KNOWS! It is boring to see every single character have to take time to find out for themselves. The bad guy and his evil army can easily take out a task force but earlier he had trouble with getting Sarah out of the newspaper guy’s car? I really hope this movie was a tax write off because that is the only explanation that makes any sense to me.
Ethan takes Sarah to a friend of his that hypnotizes her, and we see the whole origin story all over again. YAY! The snake finds them at the house, yet instantaneously loses them when they run away on foot. Then our “hero” steals a pizza delivery car and outruns the snake (of course). Then we let more exposition go by at a little diner. I guess the snake can only sense Sarah sometimes? Who knows. Of course once they start to leave the building the snake conveniently shows up and destroys property.
Suddenly the movie turns into a knockoff of the Matthew Broderick Godzilla and Shy LeBeef’s Transformers and the city slowly gets knocked around by the snake and his minions. Its pretty mind numbing even for action schlock. It iss prequel level CGI battles. It’s like sand, it’s coarse and rough and irritating, and it gets everywhere.
I would like to tell you how this movie ends, but I think you would not believe me. Plus, I’m not even sure myself what was supposed to be going on. There was some sort of double cross, a ritualistic sacrifice, a magic amulet, a sword fight, a snake battle, a magic energy ball, a ghost lady and a disappearing old man. Finally the credits roll.
Things I learned from Dragon Wars: Donut-War:
Big city professional reporters carry a little digital camcorder with them that looks cheap as hell but apparently has a lens with a 1000x zoom on it.
If you need to distract a parent from seeing his kid being spoken to by a magical box you should act like you are having a heart attack.
Kids should always patiently listen to creepy old guys in antique stores.
When Sarah turns 20 you must take her to the Grand Cave.
Asian writings on yellow paper are the only things that can protect us.
A snake that can eat 5 elephants will stare at a zoo keeper like his ex-wife.
Bums in the street will scream at an ambulance and call it a “lousy bum”.
Hospitals have no need to be well lit.
People are more afraid of a guy with a deep voice and magic sword than they are of a giant monster snake.
A snake can be large enough to fit alongside an entire skyscraper but still fit in your backyard swimming pool.
The press can walk behind police tape and look at anything they wish and interrupt police questioning with no repercussions.
Unidentifiable tattoos are confused as infections at the hospital.
In this film universe there is a TV series called “Discover Channel”.
A snake can wrap itself around a hospital multiple times but no one will notice anything until it crashes through the wall.
Hitting the evil bad guy with a car once doesn’t do anything, but do it twice and you can easily get away.
Ink from old scrolls can create an evil army, and the good guy keeps them stored all together at his place for easy access for the villain.
Streets in a major city are almost always vacant and no one is ever outside unless a main character is.
You can dive in front of a gun and get shot and it will not hinder you at all.
You can be in a fiery car crash and flip multiple times and it will also not hinder you at all.
Dialog of Note:
Hide all your pretty things. This is the end.
I thought you’d be taller. (OBVIOUSLY a reference to Road House)
Put a robot on Mars, but can’t keep elephants quiet for the entire night.
Do you not understand the meaning of the word “quarantine”?
You said it was big, you didn’t say it was something that maybe could swallow a bus.
I’m getting real tired of this destiny crap, Jack.
I do think this movie could be entertaining to certain viewers, but I think it has everything to do with how a person approaches this film and very little to do with the film itself. It certainly is no where close to being the worst film ever made. With that being said, surely you can find something better to do with your time?