HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:61
All I can say is, the director MUST have been trolling us. There is no way this movie was ever conceived in a serious manner, could it? I’ve chewed through bad movies, I’ve chewed through awful movies, and the only way this one could be seen without walking out or turning off the TV is if Mike, Crow and Servo are there giving us a full Mystery Science Theater 3000 rundown on the movie. Either that or consuming enormous amounts of alcohol in doses that would probably kill an elephant. One way or the other you’re going to end up in pain after watching “Dragonwolf”. I love me some good old Thai action films, and after seeing “The Protector 2” last night I didn’t honestly believe it could get any worse. I guess I was wrong.
It’s going to be really hard to give a synopsis of the film, since there really….is no plot. What we have are a bunch of fight sequences strung out between scenes of the main characters moping over a dead love. Mozart (Kazu Patrick Tang) and Julius (Johan Kirsten) are both childhood friends, growing up in the same dilapidated slum known as the Devil’s Cauldron (catchy, I know). Both of them become enforcers in the same criminal organization and start climbing the ladder. As with most men who are like brothers, nothing can come between them….except the love of a beautiful woman. This woman falls for both of them and ends up turning the two friends against each other and start a bloodbath of epic proportions. Both men blame the other for their own faults and time goes on their little back and forth game starts to get out of control. Finally the two men stop playing games and go to war for good this time. Julius sends wave after wave of cardboard cutout gangsters to kill his ex-best friend Mozart tears through them like tissue paper, leading up to a battle of the two, mano a mano, where only one can come out alive (or none).
The pattern of the film was ludicrously simple and about as creative as boiling an egg. We’d have a fight scene where Julius would try to kill Mozart, intermingled with flashbacks where the two would remember their childhood friendship, followed by a flashback of one or the other mooning over the girl who broke them apart, followed by another fight, then another childhood flashback, then another mooning scene. Rinse and repeat for TWO…WHOLE…HOURS. I don’t mind a low on plot martial arts film, as “The Raid: Redemption” is a perfect example how to do it right, but this goes to a whole new realm of bad where the acting is bad, the dialogue is bad, the martial arts is bad, the stunt men are horrible and just everything about this movie screams “made for a drinking game”. I would watch as badly choreographed martial artists would try to “mix it up” and even the stunt men that Mozart mows through are so bad that you can see them bracing themselves on the ground as they fall, throwing themselves on the ground BEFORE a hit would contact them and just general incompetence.
The characters themselves were about as bland as you could wish for with horrible dubbing (the entire film was actually done in English, no original Thai language was filmed) and a mix of about 10 million different accents that were either horribly dubbed, or horribly out of place. Kazu Patrick Tang looked like he was bored out of his mind and Johan Kirsten hacked and chewed his way through all his lines with about as much finesse as a boar in a dance class. It got so bad that I honestly thought that the director MUST be trolling us, I mean no one could get through this script with a straight face. We had horrible cliché’s where there are Russian assassins with thick badly faked accents and even a black “playa” who was probably what some Thai director thought was accurate as a “brutha”. "Dragonwolf" tried to be a Thai grindhouse flick, with tons of over the top action, and mindless plots, but intertwining a ridiculous love story into the mix just made it seem like no one knew just what the film wanted to be. Subsequently the film failed on both fronts.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=23681[/img]The 1.85:1 AVC transfer for “Dragonwolf” is surprisingly decent, but only decent. The film is rather desaturated most of the time, with only Mozart’s suit or his car showing a rich color palette, but then we’d switch to another scene and have colors abound. The colors look nice and even in the desaturated scenes it’s done very artistically. Detail is solid, but sometimes soft due to the cheap digital cameras used for the film. Blacks are a bit washed out a times, but still satisfactory and there is some banding in those dark moments. Nothing major, but still noticeable if you look. The overall image doesn’t wildly impress, but there really isn’t anything majorly wrong with the film, it just isn’t going to be a demo disc.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=23689[/img]As with the video, the audio is quite satisfactory, but doesn’t go above and beyond. The dialogue is clean and clear of any imperfections and the track is well balanced. The surrounds have a decent amount of use, but it just doesn’t suck you into the action as one might expect. The film carries a lot of mid bass with the score and even the fisticuffs have some decent weight behind them. There’s not really much low LFE though and the mid bass is rather one note and boomy, meant to impress teenagers rather than critical listeners. Still it has quite a bit of power and some solid directionality to it. Clarity is spot on and the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track will do the job quite nicely.
I can’t recommend this even to the hardest core of martial arts fans, for the only thing worse than a bad martial arts movie, is a bad martial arts movie with bad fighting. Had the fights been good I might have been able to survive, but even so I had to pause the movie half a dozen times to get a break and breathe. Hack kneed and just poorly done, it’s audio and video presentation is only satisfactory with no extras but a trailer, leaving me no choice but to deem this not even worthy of a rental. That is unless you’re into masochism.
Starring: Kazu Patrick Tang, Johan Kirsten, Macha Polivka
Directed by: Raimund Huber
Written by: Raimund Huber, Johan Kirsten
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Well Go USA
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 122 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 29th 2014
Buy Dragonwolf Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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