The Chair-Armed Quarterback

Because I'm right, dammit, and it's cheaper than either booze or therapy.

Location: Daejeon, Korea, by way of Detroit

Just your average six-foot-eight carbon-based life form

Thursday, August 16, 2007

We Break From Our Regularly-Scheduled Programming... bring you this non-sports-related update:

DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, view the film called "D-War."

I repeat, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, view the film called "D-War."

As this has been a blog dedicated almost entirely to sports, that should give my warning extra weight. That is how strongly I feel about this film.




For those of you who know me personally, you'll remember that I'm a man with well-defined and somewhat questionable tastes in films in general. I tend to like films that are usually characterized by excessive violence, monsters, magic, futuristic weapons, mindless chase scenes, meaningless dialogue, gore of all sorts, and not much in the way of plot development. For example, as I write this, I'm watching Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Commando," which will never be mistaken for "North By Northwest," but which has its place in the action genre. "Commando" is unapologetically bad, but in a fun, wink-at-the-audience kind of way.

D-War is the kind of bad that all involved in its coming to fruition should be taken out and publicly caned as an example to all children everywhere: "This is what happens to you when you make a film that deserves to be shown in Dante's Eighth Circle of Hell."




Where to begin?

Lacking a clearer narrative to follow, and desperately trying to save you 90 minutes that could be better spent sticking straight pins into your pupils, I'll begin at the beginning.

This "film" makes a classic fantasy film mistake: too much exposition at the beginning. We meet a young white dude in the beginning of the movie, who immediately (and I mean immediately) has an expository flashback to meeting a strange old white dude in an antique shop when he was a kid, where a strange old box opened up to him. The strange old white dude tells the young white dude that he has been chosen to save the world...which I was pretty sure would be my job when I was 11, except that my Dad had to be a jerk and make me wash dishes...but I digress...We are told, in yet ANOTHER expository flashback, about some spurious Korean legend involving dragons coming to Earth every 500 years, and of course one of them is EEEE-ville. And, of course, some poor human sod is supposed to make some sort of CHOICE which will save the universe or destroy the planet.

See, for a guy like me, you don't have to explain why dragons are here...just get them suckers on screen and let 'em start tearing stuff up! For most people who will actually pay to go see a dragon movie, we've already bought into the whole idea that dragons will be featured somewhat logically in the film. Don't waste our time trying to convince us about what we're already there to see...bring on the reptiles!

(This, by the way, is what makes Disney's "Dragonslayer" the undisputed finest dragon film ever made, bar none, accept no substitutes. We didn't bother explaining how the damn dragon got there or waste any time with spurious prophecies...nope, we got right down to fire-breathing action...but I digress.)

So anyway, this utterly useless exposition takes place in Korea about 500 years ago, which gives the filmmaker the excuse to turn the movie into a really bad Wuxiu martial arts rip-off...I mean, "somebody should go to prison" if Ed Wood or Uwe Boll were to make "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" bad...complete with an old man from the Pai Mei school of old oriental dudes that can kick massive amounts of arse, young dudes that can do that corkscrew air spin to avoid a sword thrust (when merely stepping back could do the same thing...but I'm digressing again, dang it), and bad guys in scary, black armor that looked like something Peter Jackson laughed at and dismissed while designing "Lord Of The Rings."

(By the way, can we just round up all filmmakers who wish to make a fantasy and ask them to do the following? I get the whole armor thingy. All of us do. You want to make sure that we understand that they are the bad guys. Right. Got it. Here's a hint: TRY PUTTING THEM INTO ARMOR THAT'S A DIFFERENT COLOR. Must every EEEEE-ville army in existence wear black? What, is there some kind of group-rate discount for EEEEE-ville armies if they buy black, scary armor in bulk? GAAAAAAAH!!!)

Okay, I'm all better now...mostly.

So, you have this EEEEE-ville black, scary dragon with his EEEEE-ville black armored henchman, leading and EEEEE-ville black armored army that is supported by EEEEE-ville black LOTR design-reject monsters...who are carrying multi-rocket RPGs.

I sh*t thee not.

Multi-rocket RPGs.

500 years ago.

In Korea.

Where we know, of course, from all military history, that the multi-rocket RPG was invented...

I mean, for crap's sake, you go to the trouble of introducing large, menacing, and possibly carnivorous dinosaur-like creatures into your fantasy it too much to ask that they actually EAT PEOPLE? What the stinking hell does a 20-ton carnivore need with a shoulder-mounted, multi-rocket RPG?!

See, this is where Spielberg got it right with Jurassic Park 1-through-inevitable sequels: the dinosaurs saw the long pig, ate the long pig, and liked the long pig. When that T-Rex ate that slimy lawyer in the first movie, Spielberg had our money for as many J-Park movies as he cared to make, because he gave us what we wanted to see: big dinosaurs eating small people.

You ready for this? Here's where the movie gets bad.

The Pai Mei stunt double trains up the Liu Kang stunt double so that the Liu Kang stunt double can protect the Lucy Liu stunt double, who is supposed to make that CHOICE between the good (and heretofore unseen) dragon, and the EEEEE-ville black scary dragon. The EEEEE-ville henchman in the scary black armor leads his EEEEE-ville army to the innocent and idyllic Korean village and proceeds to bomb it back to the Stone Age...which is most certainly the best way to make sure the EEEEE-ville scary black dragon gets the girl it wants, by blowing up the entire village without stopping to consider that the girl might be inside one of the buildings catching the Scorched Earth Special...

...only for the Liu Kang stunt double to decide that he didn't want the girl to make that CHOICE, because his love for her was clearly more important than THE FATE OF THE ENTIRE they eloped, chased by the EEEEE-ville black scary dragon, until they both jump off a cliff and into the ocean, where they DIE...

...which brings us back to the present, where we discover that the young white dude is actually the Liu Kang stunt double, only like reincarnated into a young American white dude (I gotta look this one coming back to life as a young white American a reward or a punishment? Apparently, a Korean dying and being reincarnated as a Korean is just too much to ask of an audience in a dragon, and he's supposed to save some young white chick, who guessed it...the reincarnation of the Lucy Liu stunt double (see the digression in this paragraph).

(In a delicious sort of irony, as I write this rant, I'm watching Ah-nold single-handedly destroy the entire army of San Culo En Fuego...or whatever the Espanyol Estereotype of the Era was...)

Right about the time that this young white dude figures out that he's the savior of the world, the young white chick starts getting pursued by the giant, scary black dragon...which looks like a hooded cobra on whatever swole Barry Bonds up...and then the movie takes a turn that only the benighted director of "Gymkata" could appreciate: this scary black dragon magically shows up wherever this young white chick is, waits until she has exited whatever domicile she happens to be holed up in, and then wrecks said domicile in search of the girl that ain't ten feet from it as she runs away. Of course, through a plot device too stupid to mention, she gets hooked up with the young white dude, and we repeat this nonsense ad nauseam, with the following caveat: whenever the scary black dragon is about to discover its prey, we get the cheesiest of Deux Ex Machina deliverances imaginable...including that the strange old white dude is now some sort of shapeshifter (!!) who just becomes different people who help these two knuckleheads out whilst they run around what's left of L.A.

See, the young white dude is convinced that things will be different this time...all this with a scary black dragon showing up in his rear view mirror every five minutes or so, but yeah, I can see where it's

Meaningless Stereotyped Character #1: the young white dude has a young black friend who literally says "Oh, HELL naw!!" at least a hundred times in the movie.

Meaningless Stereotyped Character #2: Of course, you can't have scary black dragons wreaking havoc in Los Angeles without some predictably black-suited government agents wondering how to stop said scary black dragon. Even worse, the leading black suit decides that the best solution to the whole scary black dragon problem is to kill the girl that the dragon is chasing...because that's what our government agents want to do...rightly prosecute high profile black quarterbacks for dog-fighting and rightly kill white chicks that are running from EEEEE-ville black scary's a black thang, you wouldn't understand...

Meanwile, remember scary henchman in black scary armor? He shows up just like the Michael Ironside character from Highlander 2: The Quickening - just materializes out of thin frickin' air, and (get this) right in the strange old dude's antique shop...where he proceeds to zap various pieces of old Korean antiques and turn them into guessed it...scary black armored army and LOTR reject monsters, complete with UPDATED multi-rocket RPGs. (Of course, no one thought to ask why they all showed up in the strange old white dude's antique shop in the first damn place...I mean, didn't he think that they might show up one day? Didn't it occur to him that he oughtta burn those scrolls so that they couldn't just show up in the middle of his business? GAAAH) They go on a classic EEEEE-ville army rampage, blowing up whatever was left of Los Angeles after "Volcano" and "Day After Tomorrow," where they are met by the same inept helicopter pilots and infantrymen that were in Ferris Bueller's Godzilla, all bad flying and bad shooting...

This stuff goes on for much too long, when we get this: the young white dude and the young white chick decide to break for Mexico, because, as we all know, there are anti-dragon laws in place, right there on the books next to the drug-smuggling laws and the immigration laws...when they get caught by the EEEEE-ville army, and the young white dude passes out...

...where we wake up on some set left over from one of the Mortal Kombat flicks, waaaaay out in the middle of frickin' nowhere. The young white dude is tied up, the young white chick is stretched out on an altar, the EEEEE-ville army with the vegetarian semi-dinosaurs is all lined up in parade formation, the scary black dragon shows up...and then the young white dude screams the young white chick's name.


At which point the medallion (!!) that the young white dude had been wearing around his neck and which, coinci-friggin-dentally, had never been explained at any point in the movie simply lights up and annhilates the ENTIRE EEEEE-villle army and monsters in one big ol' Led Zeppelin laser-light show. One minute they're there, the next they're exiled to CG hell.

Now loose, the young white dude picks up a sword and advances on the EEEEE-ville henchman.

You're probably thinking we're going to see him predictably recreate all that bad wire-fu of the early part of the flick. I was thinking that. Everyone in the theater was thinking that.

But NOOOOOO...the EEEEE-ville henchman beats the sugar-coated crap out of the young white dude, moves in for the coup de grace, accidentally touches that dang medallion, and melts away like the Wicked Witch of the West.

You're probably thinking that this young white dude has figured out that he is wearing an industrial-strength can of Whoopass around his neck, and that he'll then tun to put some on the scary black dragon. I was thinking that. Everyone in the theater was thinking that.

But NOOOOOO...out of literally NOWHERE, here comes the GOOD dragon.


NOW you're probably thinking that the good dragon beats the bad dragon in some desperately-needed dragon-on-dragon violence...but NOOOOOO, the bad dragon choke-slams the good dragon to death, all "teeth buried in throat" style.

At which the young white chick, uh, raises her hand, makes some magic 8 ball appear in the sky, waves it around, and throws it at the beaten good dragon.

Then she dies.

No crap, she dies.

Then the good dragon gets up...and changes form...and becomes that weird-looking whiskery dragon from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, complete with arms that the other dragon ain't which point it finally delivers the butt-whuppin' the evil black dragon has so richly deserved.

Then (!!) the parade dragon turns to the young white dude...and the dead young white chick manifests The Force and appears to him, all glowing and white, with Yoda and Hayden Christensen behind her, saying that she'll always love him and they'll be together forever...then she disappears, the dragon flies away, the young white dude is left standing all alone on the Mortal Kombat back lot...

...and up come the credits.

And the Korean audience applauded.

I, meanwhile, have taken on the thankless duty of trying to warn everyone that I care about to avoid this movie at all costs. There is no amount of alcohol that will excuse its excesses, no amount of hallucinogens that will forgive the sins of the plot, and no excuse for ever seeing this movie.


In fact, there is no amount of money that could be paid to you to force you to sit through this atrocity.

If you HAVE to watch a bad movie, get some beers and laugh your way through "Plan 9 From Outer Space."

DO NOT watch this film.

We now return you to the Michael Vick investigation, already in progress...

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Blogger Hex said...

I know your intentions were good, but now I pretty much HAVE to see it.

Dragonslayer better than Reign of Fire? - I think not. When mecha-Matthew McConaughey dives into that lizards throat?

Classic, bro. Classic.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

As much as I love Reign of Fire, I have to give the nod to Dragonslayer. It is internally consistent, well-acted, and totally believable. Plus it has Ralph Richardson.

7:27 PM  

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