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Ok, so this is just a cheesy action movie but that doesn't mean you have to
hate it. It's got a lot of plus points. The performances of the two leads is
good and they do have actual chemistry. Plus this movie is funny; whenever
the cops come to a dead end they just beat some people up. There is a fight
every few minutes. It's great. Plus it teaches kids an important lesson:
VIOLENCE SOLVES EVERYTHING! Wooooo!
What I don't get is how come Michael Biehn isn't a bigger star. He is quality.
If you see "American Dragons" on TV then give it a look, you might like it as much as I did.
You might not though. I'm not promising anything, ok? OK?
American Dragons is an archetypal 'Buddy' police action film where the
main character (Tony Luca Michael Biehn) is caught in the middle of a
gang war between the Mafia and the Yakuza whilst being lumbered with a
Korean Detective (Joong-Hoon Park). Despite a totally unoriginal plot,
American Dragons is a very good film and definitely has the edge over
the average 'Buddy' films that were so popular in the 90s.
What really sets this apart from other police films is the chemistry between the two main characters. Their bickering throughout the film adds amusement and highlights how cultural differences can have an effect on people's relationships. Luca's apparent racism at the start is not a sign of evil, but of misunderstanding and ignorance. The pair's inevitable journey to becoming friends is done very well and does admirably to avoid becoming cliché. Rather than one character saving the other character's life, it is the stories they tell of their path to becoming a cop and what guided them being where they are that leads them to discovering they have more in common than they first imagined. This, of course, is only after they have a raging fight in a back alley which is broken up by a homeless man threatening to call the police!
For a direct to video film, the overall quality of the film is very good. The stage lighting is consistent throughout and it is always clear what is occurring on screen. The adrenaline pumping music is one of the best aspects of the film and does a great job of putting the audience on the edge of their seats, especially during action sequences. The fight scenes in the film are also very good; there are a couple good martial arts fights and some great fighting by Biehn.
This is by no mean Michael Biehn's most challenging role, but he certainly rises to the occasion and does very well in the more emotionally demanding scenes, showing guilt and remorse very effectively in the scenes involving the murdered civilian. It is good to see an actor have such fun with a role as Biehn does in this film. He certainly enjoys playing the tough, cynical cop who punches his way to the truth. Whilst the chemistry between Biehn and Park was good, Joong-Hoon Park does appear to have some struggles coping with his English in this film which occasionally affects the delivery of his lines. Other than that, he performs competently in the film displaying great shock at American's lack of respect for policemen and is great in the banter between Luca and his character (Kim). The rest of the cast is a bit of a disappointment. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is almost wasted in this role, an actor of his calibre should definitely have been given more screen time. The only other actor worthy of a mention is Don Stark who is terrific as the clichéd mobster, Rocco.
What really lets this film down is the script. To be honest, it is abysmal and the script writer should really be ashamed of himself for forcing people to emit such rubbish. With a story that was lacking anything new, a good script was required for the film to gain any real credibility and it is for this reason that film never got a theatrical release.
While definitely not a masterpiece and not as good as Lethal Weapon, American Dragons is a thoroughly entertaining piece which grips the audience really tight and even adds some occasional touching moments.
Okay, if you want a good movie with comedy between America and China,
pick up the Rush Hour franchise. Don't get me wrong, I love Rush Hour,
but I love the seriousness and suspense that's felt in some of the
scenes, especially when the leader of the Yakuza meets his underlings
in the harbor office. If you understand a bit of Japanese customs and
culture, you would be able to feel that level of tension that I'm
I'm also a nut about Korean and Japanese cultures and customs and I was able to get into it easily. What Michael Biehn said at the end, "kahnsahamnida," is Korean for "Thank you very much." I train in Tae Kwon Do (a Korean Martial Art), and it's what drives my fascination about the cultures of Korea and Japan. Okay, I'm drifting off the subject, so I'll get back ON the subject.
A murder in Seoul,Korea of a detective's family...a black lotus origami-styled folding (I have no idea what they call it in Korea, so I'm using the Japanese similarity. If anyone knows what it's called, please let me know.) is the only clue that's given. Fast forward several years later to a murder in the New York alleyways; several members of the Yakuza are flat on their backs with their throats slashed out. A NY detective (Biehn) investigates the area and notices a black lotus origami floating by and scans the design to be sent to all police networks around the world. It is the same detective who's family was murdered that picks up the bulletin and when the two meet, you can tell there's some resentment until they have at it. It gets even better when the two go meet the Yakuza at the Harbor office.
I won't say anything more, but it gets better and better. I recommend this movie for anyone who wants good serious police work between two cultures.
I have to admit, I gave this film an 8 only because I think the 4.5 was
just a tad bit low. I probably would have given it a 6.5 and the only
reason it deserved that was the action and camera work.
This movies feel is pretty cheesy..But it is well shot and some of the action scenes are pretty amazing. The bowling alley scene makes the whole movie worth watching. It's truly a rare treat.
Michael Biehn has a true grit look to him and he does pretty well. I felt like he out-shined Joong-Hoon Park and their chemistry was not very special. But to be fair, The writing seems like it would have been tough to work around for anyone....
After watching the film, I was glad that I had spent the time to sit through it and I'd watch it again right now. There really is some Awesome moments sprinkled throughout the film which makes it quite memorable.
True, the movie has this cheapish aura. But for some reason, the action wasn't even that crap. For example, the shooting in the bowling center had some sort of passion that is uncommon for a direct-to-video. Heck, even some of the more "cinema-worthy" movies couldn't beat this action. Rocco blasting everyone away with this jackhammer, while on the background you heard some opera. I liked it :P The dialogue's can be considered cheesy, but again, the dialogue's were crafted with some sort of passion that again, is truly uncommon for such a movie. And last but not least, I always had a soft spot for Michael Biehn... Or maybe I just played too much Tiberian sun ;) The Chinese guy was quite funny as well :D He had some sort of own style, instead of a plain Jacky Chan rip-off guy image you may get from him while you see him first. Don't get me wrong, I don't say this is a must-see or anything. But if you don't have anything better to do, and you notice in your TV-guide this movie is on at 12AM like it was in my country, you might as well go check it out!
American Dragons is a hugely underrated film that more people should
definitely know about.
Biehn plays Tony Luca, an NYC detective working undercover trying to take down the Fiorino Mafia family. When some unfortunate events cause that investigation to "go sideways", he is transferred to another case, in the Chinatown area where there have been some murders. It seems someone is bumping off Yakuza gangsters and leaving a mysterious Black Lotus emblem. Enter Detective Kim (Park) from the Seoul police department. He comes to America because he has a score to settle with the evil Matsuyama (Tagawa, playing yet another gun-toting bad guy, see Danger Zone ,1996). He teams up with Luca, who also has his own score to settle with amoral gangster Rocco (Stark). So it goes that, despite some initial conflicts due to their different cultures, the two pugilistic cops must take down their respective enemies before a mob war breaks out between the Mafia and the Yakuza.
American Dragons is stylish and artsy, yet dark and brooding. It has an engaging storyline, and despite the fact that it has some brutal, gritty violence, it also has some unexpected humor which leavens everything out.
You really get your money's worth, as there are two personal vendettas that must be settled, and two super-evil bad guys that must get their comeuppance. Luckily, there are two heroes, in the form of Park and Biehn. Biehn gets some great lines and seems as intense as the movie itself. Try to imagine a better, more adult, mature version of Last to Surrender (1999). Also, if you can, try to imagine a MUCH better version of Massacre (1985). While 'Dragons shares some plot elements from those two films, what's really interesting is the similarity it bears to Punisher: War Zone (2008), both in the style in which it is filmed and the plot.
The cinematography truly is a double edged sword here, as it is inventive and stylish, but often the scenes are just too dark to see. It's almost funny how every bar, restaurant, police station or anywhere else in the movie never turns its lights on. A lot of the time it looks like they are talking in the dark. The station house resembles the one from the Law and Order franchises, and that adds to the "police procedural on steroids" feel and even the Captain of the Precinct is reminiscent of that show's Van Buren. But here they're clearly trying to save money on electricity.
The whole movie is a of a much higher caliber than the usual action junk, and you can tell some thought went into everything, from the rockin' soundtrack to the fact that even here there's a training sequence! This, and other clues tell me the filmmakers are action fans themselves and know what they are doing. It's nice to know you're in good hands when you watch a movie.
So remember, "So foul a sky clears not without a storm" and watch American Dragons tonight - it's a cut above the rest.
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Sometimes these films might be passed by because they're ho-hum or basically been done to death. "American Dragons" offers up nothing new (a mismatch pairing of cops, as East meets West -- one American and other Korean go after a deadly assassin who's setting up a war against the Italian Mafia and the Yakuza), but where it counts this ably slick B-grade action thriller fare is taut, rapid and frenetically violent with a solidly steadfast lead performance by Michael Biehn. I don't really care how unoriginal or familiar these story lines are, as long as it moves along and provides you a good quota of arresting action and plenty of beat-ups. Which this one does. Explosively too. Sometimes the buddy formula can be an irritation, but Michael Biehn and Joong-Hoon Park work off each other nicely --- balancing out the humour, personal depth and vigorous activity accordingly. These characters might not be black and white, but their motivations and believes are clichéd. Sometimes this can be unintentionally humorous. Character actor Don Stark in the villain role is superb as mafia man Rocca and Byron Mann is rather lethal as the shady assassin. Also there's minor support by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagaw. This story of redemption has that posing comic feel, as two sub-plots open up to miraculously tie back together. Competent direction crafts out numerous stylish sequences using some nice shadow and lighting work with moments of flashy slow-motion shots. Cheesy, but enjoyable action hokum.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
American Dragons (aka Double Edge) is no-brainer action fare, great for
a Monday night chilling after work. It's cheap and throwaway, but it's
kinda cool. NY Detective forced to team up with Korean Inspector to
track down uber-killer from Asia who likes to slice and dice mobsters
with swords. Why they don't just let em duke it out between themselves
is beyond me. Oh wait...civilians...dang. Plus there is a loose cannon
mob guy out and about. We can't have that.
Well anyway, you DO NOT have to think about this movie. Just sit back and watch some pretty decent fight scenes dispersed amidst a run-of-the-mill story. Expect anything more and you've hired the wrong movie, sorry! Michael Biehn walks all over this role as the brooding Detective Tony ("my mother's Irish") Luca, a man blaming himself for the death of a civilian, killed by uber-psycho baddie Rocco (Don Stark). In fact, he feels so bad about it he wears his sunnies all the time (must be to hide the tears), even in Church, where he goes to brood.
But thankfully he also likes partying and kicking ass...what a guy! Oh and he enjoys prancing around a gym with his t-shirt hiked up to show off his muscled torso. In fact, there's a great girly-man fight between him and Joong Hoon Park, the Korean Inspector Kim who turns up to help Mikey kick some of that aforementioned behind (we find out he has a personal reason for this mission! D...rama!) During this fight, they pull hair, squeal like girls and even throw a few awkward missed punches into the air. Awesome. Just awesome. The gym scene is also delightfully homoerotic...just watch those sideways smiley glances they give each other while they pump their guns.
Couple of things I really liked: the first fight in the men's room. Very realistic and quite surprisingly brutal for what I was expecting from this flick. And just after the fight, when Tony leans over the dead cop and his crucifix dangles over the man's face. Again, a surprisingly poignant image for a film of this type.
Well, needless to say after a bit o'good ol' mayhem it's all wrapped up in a neat little package! Enjoy.
Ever see the first 30 seconds of a film, and know you are going to like it?
This film did it for me.
There's two things that grab you about the film even from the opening scenes, there is above average photography and an excellent film score.
Almost ever scene is well shot, and is a beautiful scene on its own. And the music matches it just perfectly and intensifies the mood.
Michael Biehn can act well, which is a big plus. The only downside to the film is Joong-Hoon Park's slightly below average English skills, which takes a lot away from the movie in the scenes where his dialogue is important to the plot twists. Other than that, this film gets high marks in my book. I'll be looking for it on video or Dvd.
All I want to know is what happened with the white lotus guy at the end of the film??
A very well written and superbly directed film with the old standby mis-matched cop theme. Lots of action, slick camera work and nicely done fight scenes throughout with last ten minutes that always makes for good entertainment. Yes we love it when the bad guys get their just reward. Subtle twist ending left open for sequel.
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