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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A good laugh., 12 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie with low expectations and already knew that it was going to be one of those movies that is so bad, its good.

Dragon Wars (or D-Wars) isn't terrible by any means. Nothing in this film can be taken seriously. The acting is corny (not bad, just corny), the plot is impossible to follow, the storyboard is all over the place, and the dialog is just plain strange. I found myself laughing during most of this film because of it.

The CGI isn't that bad, nor are most of the action scenes. I find them quasi-epic.

Perhaps my biggest complaint is how loosely connected things occur during the story. D-War begins with a 15 minute explanation of an old Korean legend and how the male protagonist, Ethan must find a girl with a dragon tattoo that is about to turn 20 and protect her. Apparently they are the reincarnations of the characters originally involved in the legend. That part is okay, but the execution of the events that happen in the present are just cooky.

A giant CGI snake shows up and starts looking for the girl whilst destroying LA. An ancient army rises out of nowhere and follows suit. That very army, despite being 500 some years old manages to beat the hell out of our modern military. Not only that but in one scene, Ethan gets shot while protecting the girl. He gets right back up and says, "I'm OK". WTF? Oh yeah, and the whole dragon wars thing really only lasts for 2 or so minutes. The bad dragon (or inoogi) fights the good dragon (inoogi) towards the end of the film, nowhere else...

This whole movie was one giant "WTF?". But I enjoyed its absurdness. It reminded me of the original "The Blob" from the 1950's. That was a strange film and this one is right up there.

Honestly, this isn't a horrible film. It made me laugh, hard, very hard. The old Asian style action is there, chock-full of Dragonball style energy beams and explosions for no reason. Speaking of Dragonball, I was also reminded of the live-action Dragonball film, "Dragonball: The Magic Begins". Look it up, you'll see the similarities in story and so bad its good film making.


102 out of 138 people found the following review useful:
A Neurotic Anti-Love Story, 7 May 2007

This film is simply astounding, in my opinion. The acting is top notch as well as the soundtrack, writing, editing, and photography.

I'll start with the general story:

Hal Heffner (Reece Thompson) is just an ordinary , no frills high-school kid who happens to have a severe stutter. He has a some-what broken home life, living with his older, bullying, thief of a brother, Earl (Vincent Piazza). Their parents don't get along so well... Hal has a difficult time dealing with his stutter in school as well as general daily life. He is especially shy. Well... Hal is approached by the school Debate Team Star, Ginny Ryerson (Anna Kendrick) and she entices Hal into joining the Plainsboro High Debate Team. Hal develops a fondness for Ginny and desperately attempts to be closer with her. Hilarity Ensues...

The Acting in this film is nothing but astonishing. Reece does an incredible job of balancing his lines and creating a very convincing stuttering problem. Not only this, but the jokes he has to carry out are low-key and very natural. The very impressive fast-paced and garbled speech that Anna and Nicholas D'Agosto (Ben in the film), as well as the other debaters in the film have to employ is incredible. According to Jeff Blitz, real debaters speak faster, but the Actors/Actresses had to slow their speech so that everything was intelligible. Every player in this film speaks so naturally and fluently that the jokes are not obvious. They require thought, despite their beautiful simplicity. If you know Wes Anderson films, you know what I am talking about.

Speaking of the Writing, it is, once again, amazing. The love story that this film illustrates is a very different type of love story. It takes the genre and flips it upside-down at every turn. This trend also emanates in all other facets of the film as well. Just when your mind thinks one thing is going to happen, something unexpected happens. This film is very unpredictable, which is very nice as this film does not follow the fairy tales that are so common in film today.

Rocket Science is also just beautiful looking. The film was made predominately in the Baltimore Area. The crew did a most convincing job of turning South East Baltimore into Trenton, NJ and turning the suburbs of MD into those of NJ. As a Dundalk resident myself, I can testify.

The editing is also innovative in that it employed its fitting soundtrack into the cutting. The music will fire up to match the sequence and then pause to let a key moment carry itself out, and then pick up right where it left off. Speaking of the music, The Violent Femmes are all over the place and their songs of Love Angst match perfectly with the entire flow and story of the film.

All in all, this film was a most enjoyable experience. The laughs I had are unforgettable and the emotions that I felt watching Hal chase his dreams really tapped into me. Its a realistic film with a slight neurotic sitcom twist to it. Jeff Blitz is simply brilliant and it shows in this work. Reese has a most bright future and will be fully discovered once this film hits.

For a truly uplifting, however, realistic experience that will certainly make you laugh and impress as well, go see Rocket Science when it releases on August 10th.

-Daniel J. Carlin-Weber

17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
The die is cast., 11 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you're a fan of the original Battle Royale, it is only fitting that you see Battle Royale II. I wasn't very interested at first. There is a bit of a bad reputation around the film, however I saw it and I must tell you that it wasn't a horrible movie at all.

Story: Nanahara Shuya (Male survivor of Battle Royale 2000) returns as the leader of a terrorist group named Wild Seven (actually very aptly named title. It was Shuya's nickname in the novel (BR) as well as the cigarette brand Kawada smoked in the novel). Nanahara declares war on all adults with a huge bombing in Japan that kills 8,000 people on Christmas eve. The Japanese government however, declines the war. Instead, one year after the attack, the government revises the rules of the BR Act and enacts Battle Royale II. Another class is selected for the game. This time, the collars are linked. If one student dies, his/her partner dies as well. The students don't fight each other. Instead, the person who manages to kill Nanahara Shuya is the winner.

When I first heard the original story, I was skeptical. I was skeptical until I read the original Koushun Takami novel, Battle Royale. In the first movie, it isn't apparent that Nanahara wants revenge, however in the novel he swears to the dying Kawada that he'll tear this country apart. Maybe you should read the book as well. It made my experience much more sensible.

The film moved so quickly it was ridiculous. This is where I find the biggest difference from the original. The students die off so quickly, you didn't get a chance to become attached to them. 18 of them die in the first action scene! Thats nearly half out of 40 (2 die in the briefing room)! This can't be called too much of a flaw though. There is a grim statement in seeing a group of teenagers just die like that. They could have been your friends! I'd say Fukasaku was making a big political statement right there. Probably pointed towards the U.S. Anyway, the action sequence buzz through fast. This film is over 2 hours long, but so was the first, nut it doesn't seem nearly that long. The fast feel is probably due to the huge early body count.

The amount of references to the original film are numerous and they almost bring a warm feeling to your heart. The smiling girl returns as a past BR survivor. Nanahara holds the knife that Nobu used to cut Kitano. Shiori Kitano (fictional Takeshi Kitano's daughter) plays a big role. She is seen in her room with the painting that Takeshi made for the first film as well as the class picture and pictures of Takeshi. Perhaps the biggest of all references appears in the form of Sonny Chiba. He plays Shinji Mimiura's Revolutionary uncle (remember him?). That was very cool.

Battle Royale II seems like a middle ground in the story, but since the original director, Kinji Fukasaku died early in the shooting of BRII, I'm not sure there will ever be a follow up (Kenta, Kinji's son directed the remainder of BRII. He was just finishing his father's film). BRII does egg on another sequel and I think it definitely deserves one. I doubt Kenta will ever make a third film.

If you've seen the first, see the second. Just make sure you get a good subtitled version. The version I have has some "engrish" issues.

Dragon Ash played in the ending credits of Battle Royale (Shizukana Hibi No Kaiden Wo). BRII's ending was covered by a song called Mayonaka Shounen Totsugeki Dan by the Japanese punk group, Stance Punks. I felt that it hit an emotional chord with the story. It was apparently Kinji Fukasaku's favorite song as well.

Happy viewing. 8 out of 10.

190 out of 256 people found the following review useful:
The Best Japanese film I have laid my eyes on, 13 July 2005

I couldn't believe my eyes. Out of all of the horror/survival films I have ever seen, this is definitely on top of the list. I don't just mean that in terms of foreign films, I mean in terms of film. I was immersed into this crazy scenario that may seem absolutely ridiculous at first, but once you look at it, it almost turns into a not so outlandish thought.

The story is laid out like this: Japan has is going down the proverbial crapper. Unemployment is at an all time high and kids everywhere are boycotting school. The country is in chaos. The government decides to pass a law that is basically aimed at scaring the country into order. The Law is called the BR Act. Heres the crazy part. A class is selected by impartial lottery (and the grades seem totally random, as indicated by the shot of the 1st or 2nd grader in the opening sequence) and sent to an undisclosed, evacuated location. The classmates then have 3 days to kill each other off until there is only one student left. This year, it is a class of 9th graders (keep in mind that Japanese kids go to school year round. in our school years, these kids would be seniors). They are sent to an island, given weapons, and fight to survive.

The cast in this film is chock full of Japanese Stars. Kitano Takeshi (Kitano) plays the teacher that basically plays the ringleader. If you have watched spike TV, you have seen him before. This is the actor that plays as "Vic Ramono" on MXC. The rest of the cast is comprised of Japanese teen pop idols. Most notably, the gorgeous Chiaki Kuriyama (Chigusa). You probably know her too. She was Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill Vol 1. Ando Masanobu (Kiriyama) plays the most menacing villain I have ever seen.

Asside from the classic Japanese blood sprays and the amount of ammo some of the guns put out, there is great attention to detail in this film. From what I have read, since the author (Kinji Fukasaku) of the original book directed the film, everything is kept true to the book as close as possible. Every time a student dies, their names appear on the screen in the order they died. Inside the main building, there is huge system of screens that show who is dead and what not. Anyway, that screen is exact on the names as well as the 'danger zone' map. I had to look twice to realize that. That is damn good editing right there.

The characters in the film, though Japanese, can be related right back to the kids you knew in high school. I joke around with my friends all of the time saying, "Oh thats so and so" and, "oh man, that is definitely so and so." This brings so much depth into the film. It is simply amazing to watch how everything plays out. This is like Darwinism in the 21st century. I watch this film just saying, "this is what would happen." That is what the entire film is based on, the crazy idea of 'this could happen.' The whole tag line of the movie is, "could you kill your best friend?" The question is so spooky, I don't even know if I could answer it. It taps into something so deep that you really have to think about it.

This film does have some comical moments. It is just too damn funny to watch Takeshi Kitano sit on a couch and eat cookies while at the same time watching his former pupils kill each other. There is just everything in this movie. There are those love stories that you saw all too often in school as well as those feuds between certain cliques and egos.

If you want a superb psychological thriller, this is the movie. This film sent shock waves across Japan when it burst onto the scene. Intelligent writing, great acting, beautiful locations, and decent effects bring this film together. Its Lord of the Flies with High School Kids. Its just great.

10 out of 10

0 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Perhaps the best film I have ever seen, 15 June 2005

I saw this film back towards Christmas, around its release. I was immediately hooked. Everything about the film was simply amazing.

The film circles around a washed up oceanographer, Steve Zissou (Bill Murray,)whom is trying to find the mystical shark that ate his best friend, Esteban, and destroy it, but he doesn't know how, maybe dynamite... Zissou decides to go out on perhaps his last adventure with his wife, Elenor (Angelica Huston) and the rest of his crew.

The Life Aquatic goes so much further than that though. Zissou discovers that he might be the father of a thirty-year old pilot from Kentucky (Owen Wilson). If anything, the film turns into a self-discovery story.

Everything about this film is just simply amazing. The cast for one; Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Angelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Cate Blanchett, and even Bud Cort (Harold from "Harold and Maude"). Secondly, the production quality is incredible. The ship in the movie was completely fabricated to look like something Jaques Cousteau would journey around in. Wes Anderson even had the film company pay for an entire island, just for the film. Everything just looks authentic.

Another great part of this film is of course the top-notch acting. The emotions displayed are just deep and completely unexpected. Steve often snaps in anger while Ned (his "son") is one of the most innocent looking guys I have ever seen. Willem Dafoe is ridiculous in this film. You're very used to see him playing a serious role, using his deep voice, but in this film, he plays a bit of a side-kick with a funny German accent. Who would possibly think of something like that (Wes Anderson).

If you want a good movie that will play with your emotions and make you laugh at the same time, go pick this one up. It is now out on DVD in a two disc special edition box set with tons of extras. (Its sweet).


6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
If you need a good laugh, then this is the movie for you., 20 March 2005

Man, I have never laughed at any one single movie before than the way I laughed at this one. It was absolutely ridiculous. Was the movie bad, no doubt, but it had every person I showed it to nearly crying in laughter.

There are a lot of miscommunication here though. In the English, Dubbed version, there are numerous name changes. The real, original names are followed by the movie names:

Monkey Boy - Goku Sparkle - Father Gohan Seito (i'm sure thats the name) - Bulma Piggy - Oolong Mrs. Knowitall - Puar Lord Horn - Pilaf Mr. Westwood - Yamcha Turtle Man - Master Roshi I can't remember chi-chi's name, but it doesn't matter

Anyway, there is a good reason the names are translated so poorly. This is Japenese being translated into Chinese. Monkey Boy makes perfect sense. DB is based off of a Chinese legend of a Monkey-like boy named Goku after all. No one really wanted the names to be that dumb, but I'm sure there was a good reason for it.

The effects are hilariously awful. Strings are very visible. Grenades are no-more than rubber balls. Westwood's sword seems to be rubber (lol). The Velcro on Monkey Boy's and Sparkle's outfits are visible. When sparkle is shot out of the well, the body is a stationary doll of some sort. When Lord Horn's mouth moves, the face seems like it is falling off. When Lord Horn releases the spell on all of the citizens, they are all supposed to fall, but a whole group of people can be seen standing up, looking very confused.

The sound effects are also hilarious. It seems as though the production team was running out of money. Pac-Man noises can be heard everywhere.

Anyway, I can't really bash this movie. I love it. It is so bad that it can make me laugh, just by thinking of it. Every time I think about the bad animations and paper airplane attacks, I can't help but crack a smile.

I'll give it a 5 on a completely objective point of view. I would give it a 10 because I love it so much.