Dragonwolf Blu-ray Review
Written and directed by Raimund Huber
2013, Region A, 122 minutes, Not rated
Blu-ray released on July 29, 2014
Kazu Patrick Tang as Mozart
Johan Kirsten as Julius
Macha Polivka as Mary
David Winters as Brutus
Martial arts movies from the recent decade aren't exactly my cup of tea. Often gruesome and equipped with a stark bleakness, I just finish them feeling a little ill instead of appreciating the special effects or enjoying the action. Dragonwolf being made by people who once worked on Bangkok Adrenaline seemed as though I would be revisiting a similar unsettled feeling after watching it, but my mother's words "Try new things!" rang in my ear as I popped in the disc. I (at least) expected an exciting, action packed blood-fest, but to my grand surprise, I was bored out of my mind watching this lazily written, haphazard and weak story about two friends who are fighting over the same woman. At least that's what I think it's about. This is one of the strongest examples of poor writing that I have ever seen, and I've seen Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Mozart and Julius met during youth and maintained a friendship into adulthood. Both coloured by the ultra-violent universe that they live in; they grew to be excellent and deadly fighters in order to not only remain alive, but flourish. The two become hitmen who work for a man named Brutus, but their boss fears that they are too powerful in their current positions. The film is in a nonlinear plot which unfolds the 'tragic' ending that the two childhood friends face because of crossed lines and broken hearts over a woman named Mary, whom they both fall in love with.
The awful choices in casting could have perhaps been saved by better writing, but because everything is so profoundly weak and bland, it is just a train wreck from start to finish. The actors who play Mozart and Julius are not only unbelievable as their characters, but they're honestly unbelievable as human beings. They have an utter void of personality that is so apparent that the word "void" doesn't even seem to capture how bad it is. Mary, the object of profound adoration is also unmemorable and boring and furthermore, lacks any quality that could be attached to a character like her. She's not kind or charming and her persona doesn't ooze an ounce of sex appeal; the only thing remotely identifiable about her is a giant dragon tattoo on her back.
Although the actors are definitely partially at fault, Raimund Huber's writing is the poor foundation that this terrible movie is sitting on. It seems like a vague attempt at being Tarantino-y due to the nonlinear plot line à la Pulp Fiction and set of defining quirks that some of the characters have, such as Julius always having candy with him for some reason. A nonlinear writing technique in scripts can often make for a compelling film due to the slow burn reveal, but when someone doesn't know how to effectively convey a plot that falls in and out of time, it can be frustrating, annoying, and disengaging because viewers have absolutely no idea what is going on, with no promises that they will ever know what is going on, which is exactly what happens in Dragonwolf. I really, genuinely am not sure if the Mary plot is supposed to be the main point of the story because there are subplots and other stories at work that seem like they could be equally important, but I really have no idea.
Video and Audio:
Presented in 1:85:1, each scene is sharp with a video game-esque colour scheme that adds to the violent nature of the universe, which is really one of the only strong aspects of the film.
The DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack is bold but capably handles the differentiation between quiet talking scenes and loud action scenes.
There are no special features available on this disc.