Pity the poor giant monster fan; even in the subgenre's heyday, the pickings were few and far between. These days, Godzilla is in hibernation (and will be until 2009 brings Godzilla 3-D to the iMAX), and all the discerning kaiju junkie had to sustain him was the intensely hyped Cloverfield... and Dragon Wars, a somewhat schizophrenic Korean fantasy film that plops giant chubby iguanas with magic rocket launchers in the streets of Los Angeles.
Successful comic actor Shim Hyung-rae wrote, produced and directed Dragon Wars, which first introduces us to the Korean imoogi, a sort of mega-serpent with magic powers, to do good or bad. Every 500 years, a girl is born with a dragon birthmark - she, we are told, has the lifeforce which will allow an imoogi to become a full-fledged Celestial Dragon. 500 years ago, the girl in question and the young warrior assigned to protect her until it was time to feed herself to the imoogi (her 20th birthday), fall in love and commit suicide before she can be eaten by the evil imoogi, Buraki.
Yeah, well, now it's 500 years later - today - and the girl, her protector, and the protector's warrior mentor, have all been reincarnated in LA. And Buraki is still around, and he's pissed.
The story is pretty standard fantasy potboiler, but let's be real: were we ever watching Godzilla movies for the human subplots? No, those were only gravy when they proved to be good - we're here to see giant monsters break stuff, and army mens shoot them. There is a nice variety of beasties on display, and the CGI work is uniformly good - quite breathtaking, in several instances, particularly at the movie's climax, when the promised Dragon finally does show up. The movie is not gory, but does get violent. Take the PG-13 rating into consideration when I say this one is most certainly for the young monster fans. The older ones are advised to leave their maturity and cynicism at the door.
The single disc provides the viewer with the choice of a 4:3 Full Screen presentation or widescreen. Menus are simple and uncluttered by effects or loud noises.
5000 Years in the Making is your making-of documentary, made up largely of interviews and clips from press events and the movie itself. Not very much about the nuts and bolts of actually making the movie, but a lot of emphasis by Shim on the necessity of "heart". There is also a Storyboard-to Screen comparison and a fairly nice Conceptual Art Gallery.
Dr. Freex, 3/16/2008