CATEGORIES Action, Drama, Foreign Language, Gay & Lesbian, Independent, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, New on DVD, Home Entertainment, Cinematical Indie, Features, DVDs, CinematicalAsian monster flick D-War tore up the box office in its native South Korea this past summer. Slightly retitled to Dragon Wars by distributor Freestyle Releasing, the film did surprisingly well in the US, grossing more than $10 million, making it the most successful Korean picture released in America. (Total worldwide box office was $66 million, according to Box Office Mojo). It didn't screen for critics, but I saw it anyway, propelled by a childhood love for Godzilla and his monstrous friends.
Director Shim Hyung-Rae's film is incredibly cheesy and nonsensical, but strangely satisfying if you're a fan of monster movies in general and keep your expectations just barely above zero. Unfortunately, the lead characters, played by Jason Behr and Amanda Brooks, are wan and colorless, in part because their roles are so thinly written. Happily, B-movie greats Robert Forster and Chris Mulkey are on hand to juice things up. Most of the production budget was evidently spent on the special effects, which would have been state of the art ten years ago. It's the kind of movie that made me roll my eyes and mutter to myself throughout. Yet days later I found myself quoting some of the more outrageous lines and scenes to others. The DVD includes a featurette entitled "5,000 Years in the Making," storyboard to screen "animatics" and conceptual art gallery.
Japanese auteur Takashi Miike has made dozens of films in almost every conceivable genre (the remake of his horror flick One Missed Call was just released this weekend), but Big Bang Love -- Juvenile A is, I believe, his first foray into the homoerotic prison drama genre. Mark Schilling of The Japan Times noted that it "differs from much of his previous work (especially his recent commercial outings) in its theatrically stylized sets, complex narrative strategies and basic tone." The DVD includes an interview with Miike, "behind the scenes special," an image gallery, trailers and program notes.