Based on the Korean legend, unknown creatures will return and devastate the planet. Reporter Ethan Kendrick is called in to investigate the matter, and he arrives at the conclusion that a girl stricken with a mysterious illness named Sarah is suppose to help him. The Imoogi makes its way to Los Angeles, wreaking havoc and destruction. With the entire city under arms, will Ethan and Sarah make it in time to save the people of Los Angeles?
Directed by: Hyung-rae Shim
. Starring: Jason Behr
, Amanda Brooks
, Robert Forster
, Craig Robinson
, Aimee Garcia
, Chris Mulkey
, John Ales
, Elizabeth Peña
, Billy Gardell
, Holmes Osborne
, NiCole Robinson
, Geoff Pierson
, Cody Arens
. Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Compared to Shim's previous outing, we have a gigantic leap forward in every way imaginable. And if compared to a lot of the horrible monster films of the 60s, 70s and 90s which some people give so much credit to, D-War is by far a disappointing mess.
The story, in my view wasn't bad at all, at least the prologue. We start with Ethan Kendrick (Cody Arens) and his father at an antique shop trying to sell a dagger to Jack (Robert Forster), who pretends to have a heart attack to talk to Ethan alone about the story of his destiny. Forster narrates the story well I thought, he tells of a good and a bad Imoogi (Korean dragons) who become celestial dragons if a girl with a certain mark on her shoulder, that appears every 500 years, is sacrificed to them, called Yeo-Yi-Joo. In 1507 Korea, the girl is born and a wizardshaman named Bochun and his ward Haram are entrusted to protect her till her 18 or 20 birthday, which is when her power is activated. The bad Imoogi, Buraki and his Artox army (you heard right, ARTOX army) ravage the village or kingdom in search of her. However Haram and Yeo-Yi-Joo have fallen in love, being her life long protector, which we are assured by Forster should surprise no one (except apparently him and the king who ordered the whole mess together). as they flee for there lives rather than sacrifice her to the good Imoogi, Buraki chases them to a cliff, and rather than die by him, they jump, and die "as star-crossed lovers". Ethan is the re-incarnation of Haram, Jack of Bochun and an unknown girl which he must find (Sarah) who is Yeo-Yi-Joo, as the time for a new dragon war nears.
Now that prologue is fine in my view, and had the film been about Haram and Yeo-Yi-Joo falling in love vs. following there proscribed destinies, an exploration of the strict caste systems of Feudalism vs. there ever growing tenderness, about Yeo-Yi-Joo's father (the King) and his grief at the death of his wife and the curse of his child, playing up the star-crossed lovers angle, and of course Giant snake fights and Artox armies with feudal age missiles, than this would have gone far and beyond the standard giant monster film, and even a very good film in general. But that would take a director with more talent (though something can be said for his work on action scenes) and a bit more courage to film for the sake of art rather than to score bank in the States (which is why the majority of the film is with American actors), and we have to have a reason for the snake and the Artox general to fight and chase Sarah and Ethan all over LA.
Now from that statement you would get the notion that this is a terrible film, which it is, but it is because of things rather than despite (which I know is only different in how you organize a sentence but I think I can make a case for a bigger differentiation), its horrible acting rather than despite good acting makes things easier to forgive, because it means there is some untainted qualities to like about a film. If you tell your friend "the movie would have been great if it wasn't for the..." it means there was something there to enjoy, but if you say "even though it had (insert positive remark) it sucked" it means whatever good quality it had was nullified by something overlapping and worse.
By far the worst aspect, was the acting, which makes sense, Shim's not a great director, and like anyone who isn't bi-lingual in said languages you cant really tell if what your actors are saying came off as over-the-top, cheesy, slurred, awkward and like Nick Adams in "Invasion of Astro-Monster" your likely to be directed into hamming it up pretty strong. The second nail is the plot after Forster finishes talking, it goes nowhere and fast, it pretty much boils down to excuses for the snake to chase from location to location smashing things. By this point plots are pointless and intrusive, but they intrude anyway with revelations which add nothing, a love story which is anti-compelling, and federal officers running about for a quasi sub plot that goes nowhere in an anti climactic anything-but-tense moment in an empty garage. Altogether, considering the type of film and the obvious state of mind you go to these movies for, you'll hate part of it, the subordinate part (story, plot, human characters, any attempts at blossoming relationships) and love the rest (the dragons, battles, the inevitable monster clash winner-take-all ending to save the world).
There is one thing that can be said for Shim, his determination to make quality CGI without Hollywood, entirely in Korea. I think in years to come Korea will thank the work done here by Younggu-Art's for making Korean actionfantasy films able to compete with America, Britain and Japan, and they might very well become a sort of Asian Pixar out of there achievements here.
This is the kind of film you watch with your friends, pointing out the plot holes like hidden message Easter eggs (of which there is no short supply) and being dumb founded by some of the more impossible leaps of even fictional faith and the least convincing effects (the dead elephant, the entire bridge scene). The kind of film you hope to be pleasantly surprised by or nostalgia with quality explosions. The more I've seen it and thought about it the more my disdain for the worst parts turn into welcomed additions. The kind of film you go into shouting "D-War! woo!".
Review by Emideon from the Internet Movie Database.