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Film / D-War

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"Like King Kong, but with missiles!"
New York Times review

D-War, also called Dragon Wars, is a 2007 South Korean monster movie. Although technically a South Korean movie, it casts primarily American actors.

The Imoogi (or Imugi) are a race of magical giant serpents in Korean mythology. Once every 500 years, one virtuous Imoogi is rewarded by the gods for its good deeds and given the chance to become a celestial dragon.

Circa the year 1500, Buraki, an evil Imugi, plans to steal this reward and transform himself into an immortal dragon so he can destroy the world. To do this, Buraki must capture the Yuh Yi Joo, a blessing from Heaven that was hidden away inside a special young woman. To protect her, a master and apprentice guardian were appointed to her. But when she and the apprentice fell in love and worried her destiny would mean the end of her life, they fled just as Buraki attacked. The evil serpent's efforts were thwarted thanks to the Heroic Sacrifice of the Yuh Yi Joo and her faithful warrior companion, but it only delayed what was to come in the future.

Circa the year 2000, the Yuh Yi Joo and her companions are reborn in the form of Los Angeles office worker Sarah Daniels and investigator Ethan Kendrick. Buraki sees another chance to capture her and gain her power, and returns to the mortal world. Ethan, privy to the old legend via the reincarnation of his mentor, has to race to find Sarah and get her to safety as Buraki summons his evil magical army into modern times. Dark armored demons, dinosaur-like cavalry, and flying drakes proceed to duke it out with an army of modern soldiers, tanks and helicopters in the middle of Los Angeles. A dramatic chase ensues, full of monsters and explosions.

D-War provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: After granting the Yuh Yi Joo to the Good Imoogi, she becomes a sort of celestial being, before being absorbed into the Yuh Yi Joo, and being carried by the Imoogi (now a dragon) up into Heaven.
  • Bad Vibrations: In the flashback, the entire forest shakes vigorously as Buraki slithers through, complete with the deafening cacophony of earth shifting and trees falling around his body. Buraki comes into view only by smothering dozens more trees into the soil in a matter of seconds.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Buraki has our two leads cornered at the footsteps to his fortress. Cue the good imoogi rushing into the rescue.
  • Big Good: The unnamed heroic Imoogi. The entire reason Buraki is after the Yuh Yi Joo is because his rival would be able to soundly defeat him if they ascended into becoming a Celestial Dragon. Ethan and Jack's chosen role as protectors was to safeguard Sarah so she could deliver the Yuh Yi Joo to the benevolent serpent as they're the only one who could stop Buraki.
  • Behemoth Battle: The final battle is Buraki vs the Good Imoogi. Buraki wins round one via brief knock out, though takes a beating in the process. But then Sarah gives the Good Imoogi the Yuh Yi Joo, allowing him to evolve into a Celestial Dragon and defeat Buraki.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For Ethan who is left in the scarred wastelands of a forgotten realm, completely alone, and with no obvious way of getting back to present day Los Angeles. Buraki has been defeated and his army destroyed to never return, the heroic Imoogi has ascended into becoming a divine dragon, and Sarah's spirit passes on into Heaven after she assures Ethan they will be together again. The last shot is Ethan walking away into the desert.
  • The Chosen One: Sarah, modern day bearer of the Yuh Yi Joo.
  • Collateral Damage: To be fair, it would be hard for a creature Buraki's size to avoid this even if he did care about the thousands of humans he's killed. All that just to hunt down two specific humans at a time, who unwittingly put every living thing they pass and every building they enter in the trajectory of a kaiju-sized snake.
    • Buraki wrecks a forest that the bearer of the Yuh Yi Joo 500 years ago is running through.
    • The huge furrow left by Buraki in an uptown area which is seen at the beginning of the film, at least a dozen buildings wide in diameter (much bigger than he is revealed to be). His path has been entirely leveled and devoid of any of the buildings that had been there before, with traces of crushed cars, flattened trees, and mangled roads mixed in with the soil. It's wide and long enough to suggest that he has leveled thousands upon thousands of buildings in his wake.
    • Buraki kills a completely innocent woman who he mistakes as bearing the Yuh Yi Joo.
    • Buraki damages the hospital which Ethan and Sarah are in as he slithers on the roof, before deciding to charge straight through it. He then obliterates the parking garage in his pursuit as well as every car parked inside and the toll booth. When he stops to roar in the road, his sudden appearance causes drivers to swerve too sharply and flip their vehicles onto the side.
    • Expectably, Buraki effortlessly fractures the asphalt beneath him.
    • Buraki crushes some mineshaft rails and scaffolding as he slithers up the wall of a cave.
    • Buraki, sensing Sarah inside a large suburban house, nibbles through the roof to search for her inside. As soon as he notices she and Ethan have fled, he levels the entire house to the ground. He chases after them through the same streets they drive through and flattens parked cars in his path.
    • As Buraki creeps toward a cafe he knows Ethan and Sarah are inside, he slithers on the roof of the building adjacent to it, destroying its top floor or so and leaving a massive hole in the shape of his body. He shoves his head into the cafe, to the terror of its patrons, with enough force to explode every window in the room and on the floor above. He then crushes parked cars under his neck as he lunges toward the fleeing Ethan and Sarah, and he even uses a fleeing driver as a projectile to fling in their path, right into oncoming traffic.
    • The jammed streets of Los Angeles, with thousands of vehicles and human victims all laid out for him to uncaringly crush and send flying into the air.
    • The facade of the office building which Ethan and Sarah ascend, which suffers considerable damage in the shape of Buraki's coils.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Modern US military and Los Angels SWAT versus fantasy demon soldiers riding dinosaurs, led by a giant kaiju sized cobra.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Once the Good Imoogi becomes a Celestia Dragon, Buraki doesn't stand a chance.
  • Dark Is Evil: Buraki is a giant, dark-colored serpent. The Good Imoogi, while very similar looking, is a significantly lighter shade of color to tell them apart.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Way too many of the defenders.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Buraki decides to continue attacking the Good Imoogi after it becomes a Celestial Dragon. This doesn't go well for him.
  • The Dragon: Buraki has other literal dragons (albeit much smaller and weaker than himself) at his command, with a demonic general as his right hand.
  • Dynamic Entry: The Good Imoogi enters the final battle by tackling Buraki away from Sarah and Ethan, biting his neck, and throwing him overhead.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Cars and Apaches blow up like fireworks. Granted we do see Bulcos and Dawdlers firing cannons or fireballs at them but merely an Apache crashing into a building or the ground instantly creates an explosion.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Buraki's demonic right hand man. Particularly ridiculous because he tries to pass as a normal human and no one notices his ridiculously deep voice.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: The Good Imoogi, now a Celestial Dragon, kills Buraki by breathing fire down his throat, painfully burning him to ash from the inside out as he roars in agony. Not to say Buraki didn't deserve it.
  • Fearsome Foot: The celestial dragon stomps his foot in front of the camera with earth-shaking force after he tosses Buraki away.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy: Buraki has a massive army that can kick even the modern American Army's ass. What does Heaven send to stop them? Two guys. Granted a giant semi-divine snake is on their side, but is too far away to help for most of the film.
  • Good Animals, Evil Animals: The two imoogi in the film. The evil Buraki resembles a dark cobra, and the unnamed heroic serpent also has cobra-like traits but looks a bit more like a python.
  • Kaiju: The Imoogi are enormous. Buraki is essentially a cobra big enough to easily swallow an elephant whole as a snack and coil around the 1000 foot note  tall U.S. Bank Building. The good Imoogi is similarly gigantic.
  • The Great Serpent: The imoogi are a mythical race of gigantic snakes in Korean Mythology that can grow to at least a kilometer long. Every 500 years the most virtuous of them at blessed by Heaven to evolve into dragons. The main antagonist, Buraki, is an evil cobra-like imoogi who seeks to usurp the good imoogi's ascension for himself. This movie even provides the trope image for the iconic shot of Buraki encircling the Los Angeles US Bank Building.
  • Immune to Bullets: Buraki and his army aren't totally immune to modern weapons, it just takes a lot to actually hurt them. Buraki shrugs off multiple Apache helicopters going full-auto with their guns, but does react in pain when hit by anti-tank missiles. Similarly the larger units of his army and the heavily armored mooks are effectively bullet proof to all but an ungodly amount of rounds, with explosives or tank shells doing a better job putting them down.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Anytime someone uses a gun against an Atrox soldier, they always aim at their bulletproof shields instead of...anywhere else.
  • Made of Explodium: There are lots and lots of explosions in this film.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Ethan gets shot in the shoulder and then gets up a few seconds later showing no signs of pain or injury. His gunshot wound is never brought up again for the rest of the movie.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Atrox Army.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Zigzagged. The combined forces of the local U.S. Army, Los Angeles police and SWAT teams eventually get overrun by Buraki's army by being badly outnumbered, outpaced, and their military vehicles being too slow to accurately pit against the Dawdler cannons and Bulcos' fireballs. Though in the sense they did succeed in keeping Buraki and his army away from Ethan and Sarah, took down some of the evil magical army with them, and bought Ethan enough time for his medallion to activate and for the imoogi to come in and smite Buraki.
  • Mook Lieutenant: The commander of the Atrox Army.
  • Mordor: Buraki's evil temple at the end. It even looks like the Tower of Barad-dûr!
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Especially when you unload a full magazine into the Evil Army's enormous thick shields instead of aiming for the unprotected limbs after the first few rounds bounced off.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Once the Good imoogi becomes a Celestial Dragon, it proceeds to beat the crap out of Buraki like a ragdoll before incinerating him.
  • No Indoor Voice: The general, while not in human form. The chanting to "summon" Buraki is especially notable.
  • Our Dragons Are Different. Five kinds:
    • Imoogi: Giant, serpent like dragons with no limbs. Buraki looks like a cobra snake with crocodile-like scutes. The good imoogi is similar, but looks more like a python.
    • Celestial Dragon: Typical Eastern dragon in appearance, and what an Imoogi becomes in possession of the Yooh Yi Joo. Though it's shown having the power to breath fire, which is not a trait associated with Eastern dragons.
    • Chaccone: Miniature Allosaurus with horns, mounts of the evil army.
    • Bulcos: Basically a Jurassic Park-styled velociraptor, but with wings.
    • Dawdler: A large, legless stegosaur-like creature with back cannons.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: The stegosaurs-like Dawdlers that have rocket launchers on their back.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted in one scene where they save Ethan and Sarah from Buraki by diverting its attention (even if their guns couldn't kill Buraki) but then played out straight when war breaks out in Los Angeles. SWAT does a bit better.
  • Product Placement: An LAPD officer and a Chaccone battle in front of a Burger King that has windows promoting their famous crispy Chicken Fries.
  • Raptor Attack: The Bulcos are basically flying velociraptors. In one scene, when a Bulcos lands if front of the camera, a sickle-shaped, raptor-like claw is visible on each foot.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Buraki has evil red eyes with slitted pupils, in contrast to the Good Imoogi's eyes, which are blue and Siberian husky-like.
  • Redshirt Army: In ancient Korea, Civilian or military, everyone that fights back is killed without a second thought. Granted the modern day SWAT teams and US army do manage to put up a respectable fight even if they get overwhelmed.
  • Rule of Cool: Drives pretty much the entire movie. How is it an entire squadron of Apache attack helicopters show up where Ethan and Sarah are to face off against Buraki? Because it looks as awesome on the film as it does in the poster.
  • Rule of Perception: For some reason bystanders never notice the 100-meter long giant snake until it is breathing down their necks...
  • Screw Destiny: Ethan's (past and present versions) rationale for eloping with their beloved, doesn't seem to grasp why this is futile.
  • Security Cling: The climax involves a lot of this, as most of it is giant dragons fighting each other and the two leads are left with nothing to do but cling to each other while staring up into the middle distance in terror.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Sarah tries this on Buraki on the skyscraper when cornered, in a desperate attempt to keep the Yuh Yi Joo from him.
  • Stunned Silence: The music momentarily stops when the celestial dragon's back feet strike the ground with a loud crunch.
  • Transformation Sequence: The Good Imoogi as he becomes a Celestial Dragon. His skin peels off, his molted hide rains like snow, then legs and horns burst out of his body and head as he triumphantly roars.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Both Jack and the general are capable of this, though the latter does it more often.
  • What Happened to the Mouse? Bruce was last seen inside a crashed vehicle telling Ethan and Sarah that he'll be fine and to run away. They never showed whether or not Buraki killed him or if he got away.