1 star (out of four)
What do you want to bet that the most surprised people in the movie business are the cast of "D-War," a Korean-made, American-cast string of cheese opening in theaters this weekend? Surely none of these actors thought this just-a-paycheck creature feature would ever see the light of a U.S. cineplex.
Star Jason Behr, playing Ethan, a cable TV news reporter privy to info about an ancient Korean legend, didn't even bother to get a haircut. Silly Jason. Nobody on network news wears their hair like Napoleon Dynamite!
But "D-War" was a hit in Korea, and since the Korean monster movie "The Host" won props and decent box office over here, well, here's "D-War" - the dumbest dragon movie since "Dragonheart," and yes, I've seen "Reign of Fire."
What must Robert "Jackie Brown" Forster's contract have looked like?
"Duties limited to exposition, exposition, occasional morphing into ancient martial arts wizard, doctors and soccer moms, and more exposition."
He explains the plot to young Ethan in a flashback, a Korean myth that says every 500 years dragons, lizards and other beasties under the command of Z-actors will rise up and try to get their teeth into a 20-year-old virgin.
Actually, "virgin" isn't specified. This is set in LA, after all.
Dragon sightings have the feds, the local police and psychiatrists all in a tizzy. "This thing stared at me like my ex-wife!"
Legions of Cylons from the "Battlestar Gallactica" convention join the dragons and there you go, Ethan. There's your lead story for the 5 o'clock edition of "The News with Napoleon Dynamite."
Old "Jack," the Korean legend expert, does his odd bit of morphing to save Sarah, the girl, who is the reincarnated key to some sort of transformation that will allow good dragons or evil ones to rule the day.
Sarah is played by Amanda Brooks, who looks like an un-freckled Lindsay Lohan before the miles piled up.
"I never wanted any of this!"
She means she never wanted to be menaced by slithering dragons and this dark overseer with a shock of white hair (Michael Shamus Wiles).
Elizabeth Pena keeps a straight face as she explains the science of what's happening to the FBI.
The straight face thing is tricky, because once the digital whatever hits the fan and the streets of L.A. are filled with crashing helicopters, Cylons, flying dragons and scads of American troops in tanks, well, you'd have to be made of stone to not giggle.
Not that the actors saw any of that, it all being added digitally later.
They didn't think you'd see it, either. But again, a big hit in Korea, where imitating Honda is no longer enough. Now they're imitating "Godzilla."
'D-Wars: Dragon Wars'
Cast: Jason Behr, Amanda Brooks, Robert Forster, Elizabeth Pena. Director: Hyung Rae-shim. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Industry rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and creature action.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times