Well, South Korea and Thailand have been able to pump out some pretty entertaining action films over the last handful of years. They have proven to match and even surpass Hollywood entertainment levels with action and various kinds of martial arts. With all the good must come some bad and this time in comes in the form of “Dragonwolf”, an amateurish attempt at joining the higher ranks.
We begin with a sepia toned flashback sequence involving two children becoming friends after beating up some bullies. We then jump somewhere into the present (it’s fairly unclear) and see them as possible enemies. We then jump to another time period where they are/were best friends. The idea is that they became friends, almost as if they were brothers and then something pitted them against each other. Around all this is The Devil’s Cauldron, a city filled with violence and toughness. The two friends have risen high within the crime world and are prospering at the expense of others. They meet a woman who dates them both secretly which leads to deception and ultimately and all out war between the two.
From the first piece of dialogue to the last the acting is all around horrible. The two children in the introductory scene are wooden and you can easily assume they may have never acted before. The acting is so bad it’s cartoonish. It’s a disheartening scene that does not get you excited for what’s to come. The next scene which features the main actor Kazu Patrick Tang whose character’s name is Mozart. This scene is designed to display his fighting skills and as competent of a fighter as he is the fight editing and choreograph do a huge disservice to any realism that is trying to be created. The fighter’s distances from each other constantly vary and when contact is made it comes off as weak and lacking any oomph. The editing is quick and attempts to give the appearance that the fighting is fast and furious but it comes off as choppy and nonsensical. Next to a film like “The Raid” the action looks like a couple of eight year olds got a hold of a camera and started fake hitting each other.
Back to the first action scene, there’s no current background given, Mozart just enters a building and starts beating up a seemingly endless line of videogame-like enemies. The movie wants to come off as being crazy and chaotic however instead it comes off as just plain goofy. Then, in a flashback that will give you whiplash, a romantic scene that seems right out of a 90’s Chris Isaac music video shows you Mozart’s time with the shared girl, a plank of wood called Macha Polivka. That may seem harsh but it’s an embarrassing scene devoid of emotion and truth. Some of the voices are dubbed in English which lends to the horrible acting but facial expressions are severely limited as well. The alignment of the flashbacks is confusing and reveals too much too early squashing any hopes of mystery and surprise. Production sets and makeup do not fare much better. During a hospital scene where one of the main character’s mother is dying, she is on her death bed and wearing makeup while looking like the picture of health. There are several pros though. There is a surprisingly large amount of T n A and blood peppered throughout. The opening titles are nicely animated accompanied by some hard rock and blood splattering.
The movie might be a dud but Well Go USA’s video presentation is nice to look at. Shot in 1.85:1 the AVC 1080P encode has some nice clarity. Clothes are satisfactorily detailed and skin tones are realistic. The outside beach scenes fare the best as the some of the darker scenes fall prey to some occasional black crushing. Overall it is a solid visual effort.
No amount of lossless quality from the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track can fix the acting but at least it makes it crystal clear. Now I should repeat that part of the acting issues have to deal with the fact that the film was dubbed into English. The fighting scenes and accompanying rock music are sufficient, especially during the opening titles. Some of the foley effects could have been more realistic but that is not the fault of the encode.
There is only a trailer for the film itself.
“Dragonwolf” is a hard movie to recommend unless you are a die-hard action junkie who will watch anything (and there is nothing wrong with that). The acting is wooden, the action is mediocre and the plot structure is a mess. At lease the audio and video are okay.