Monday, May 17, 2010


Some time ago, while browsing in the $2 DVD bin at a Tandy Electronics store, I found a copy of 2003's 'Dragon Fighter', starring marginalised ex-hunk Dean Cain and a bunch of talentless Bulgarians. Of course I didn't know about the talentless Bulgarians at that point, but I figured that $2 was a small price to pay for a movie starring someone of whom I'd actually heard. And how bad could it be? The beauty of bad movies is that you get a lot of return on your investment. For less than the price of a cup of coffee at McDonalds, you get enough material for hours of shouting abuse and mockery at your TV.

‘Dragon Fighter’ did not disappoint, at least on the shouting part. Basically the plot involved a team of scientists in a secret underground bunker using DNA recovered from an archeological dig to re-create a dragon. Said dragon then goes on the rampage, presumably trying to find and then set fire to its agent. It’s up to military liaison and man of action David Carver (Dean Cain) to kick some ass and save some day, while doing a lot of reproachful yelling at the scientists responsible. As such, the film is little more than 89 minutes of a diminishing number of people running down poorly lit corridors shouting "Move! Move! Move!", pursued by about 20 seconds' worth of looped dragon CGI dragon roaring and breathing fire and trying to look expensive.

So ‘Dragon Fighter’ attempts to be equal parts 'Alien' and 'Jurassic Park'… with a good dose of camera effect demo tape thrown in for good measure. It seems that someone had noticed how well the picture-in-picture technique works in episodes of '24' to show multiple yet simultaneous viewpoints, and then decided to use it wherever possible in ‘Dragon Fighter’. Such as when Robert Zachar is putting a book on a table, or Dean Cain is ordering a sandwich.

Unfortunately, when the script calls for two people to have a rather dull conversation, showing it via two side-by-side frames that slowly revolve around each other doesn't suggest dynamic tension in the dialogue. It suggests that bits of the movie are going down the drain.

While the frames zoomed in and out and around, like vultures circling overhead waiting for the script to die, little issues like character motivation and continuity were left behind. This is to be expected in bad sci-fi movies, a genre which considers characters behaving like rational human beings to be of a lower priority than getting extra aioli on the potato wedges at the catering table. Still, it’s a little disconcerting when a character suddenly decides that he’s had enough of running away from hot scaly death, and chooses instead to kick back in his quarters with a bottle of scotch and some music, as if having a man-eating dragon loose in the corridor outside were no more threatening than an infestation of lady bugs.

Then, unsurprisingly, he gets eaten.

My viewing buddies and I hooted and yelled and riffed our way through the movie, as is our way. When the closing credits rolled, we fell into a contemplative discussion:

DS: How does crap like this even get made?

Me: Hey, it serves a purpose. It fills a slot in the Sci-Fi Channel's schedule, and then makes a little money on the DVD market, on its own or as filler in a sci-fi compilation boxed set.

PM: Even so... it's hard to see how they'd sell it for enough money to make a return on their investment.

Me: Maybe they employ Roger Corman's old trick: you get two scripts with similar stories and much the same characters, then you shoot them at the same time using the same sets and the same actors. He did that all the time. Twice as much product for roughly the same money.

PM: So there might be another 'Dragon Fighter' out there?

Me: Well, a slightly different version. Probably a porn version, if they've got any financial sense.

PM: Ha!

Me: (glances at screen) Actually, judging by the fact that 'Mariana Love' was the hair stylist, that's not so far-fetched. That's a porn name if ever there was one.

DS: Or set dresser 'Kory Angels'. Wocka chicka wocka.

PN: Or 'Fred Flutie', porn star and construction foreman.

Me: Or 'Marion Valkerie', who was in charge of... er... "swing"? Sweet merciful crap, this is getting sort of freaky.

Presumably once filming had finished on the M-rated version of 'Dragon Fighter', Dean Cain and Kristine Byers grabbed the boom mike and the clapperboard while Mariana Love and Kory Angels shucked their constrictive clothing and got busy on the X-rated version. The evidence is all there in the credits.

Other Porn Actors Masquerading as Production Crew in 'Dragon Fighter'.

Francie "Broken" Hart - "makeup artist"

Marvin "Cross" Dresser - "set design"

Lad "Pizza Boy" Valient - "set dresser"

Boris "Seed" Planter - alternate "swing"

Angel "Swingin'" Johnson - "gaffer"

Cherise "Call Me" Honey - "assistant"

Kurt "Best Boy Grip" Johnson - "best boy grip"

My, that’s a big weapon you have there…

It would certainly explain a hell of a lot.


Blogger TimT said...

And then there's genuine Hollywood sponsored crap. Man, we saw a preview for Legion recently while going to the local shopping centre cinema. It's just like Terminator. Except, instead of killer robots, like, they've got killer ANGEL robots.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous DS said...

Killer angel robots? That's a must-see.

btw Blanders, you forgot to mention "Randy Parisian" - whatever his job was.

11:07 AM  

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