For ten or so minutes, Dragon Wars is pure summer movie spectacle. For the other 80 minutes, it’s a total mess. Dragon Wars is one of the most incomprehensible, lackluster, boring, and illogical piles of cinematic junk you’ll ever lay eyes on. Its acting is deplorable, the plot is a mess, and the dragons, well, they look cool. Skip to chapter 18, let the attack commence, and then turn it off before the completely unexplained finale.
For more details on the movie itself, read the full review. For a technical assessment, read on.
For the ten minutes you’ll be watching this, you’ll be treated to some high end Blu-ray effects. Color pops off the screen, contrasting wonderfully with the rich black levels. Detail is high (exposing a few special effects gone wrong), and the overall tone is sharp and clean. A few distance shots appear slightly muddy, especially a money shot involving the actors and the giant dragon. The transfer is free of imperfections, and the print itself is flawless.
Dialogue occasionally carries a scratchy tone with it, and there’s a tinny sound to some of the explosions. These issues detract but do not destroy the work done via the surround channels. Bullets, cannon fire, tanks, debris, and the dragons themselves fan out into every available channel with remarkable effect. The bass coming from explosions and footsteps of the giant creatures is room-shaking material.
Extras are brief, beginning with 5,000 Years in the Making. This 18-minute featurette provides plenty of Korean premiere footage and behind-the-scenes material. It’s also unintentional comedy as director Hyun-rae Shim tells the story of how he cried during the filming. Seriously. Storyboard comparisons with the film and conceptual art mark the end of the small features menu.
With heavy promotion both online and on TV, Dragon Wars suckered in enough US viewers to haul in a respectable $11 million during its theatrical run. Overseas, especially in its homeland, the film did amazingly well, making it the highest grossing movie in the country’s history. Apparently, they don’t give refunds in Korea.