I stumbled upon ‘Dragon Eyes’ upon skimming through Netflix. Streaming services such as Lovefilm and Netflix have many positives. Even as an AV snob who’s a taskmaster for picture and audio quality, the content is not unwatchable and it’s all presented to you for a reasonable monthly fee.
The disadvantage of these services is that the average user like myself will often take into account the reasonable monthly fee and waste time watching hours of dross that they’d never consider watching if it was a paid rental or a blind purchase. For me, Dragon Eyes tiptoes into that category.
My initial thought process went something like ‘Cung Le and Jean Claude Van Damme in the same movie AND IT’S CALLED SOMETHING SO OVERTLY BLATANT AS DRAGON EYES? Consider me clicking ‘watch’ as quick as the triple cut that accompanied every Van Damme roundhouse in any 80′s/90′s movie he was in. This should be testosterone nirvana.’
Unfortunately, the movie is inferior to the sum of its parts. Dragon Eyes happily adheres to the recycled cliche of a hard as nails drifter (with morals and integrity of course) moving into a dilapidated neighbourhood to clean out the trash.His sole aim appears to be to make St Jude a place where the residents can be proud to live and happily plant petunias without fear of being shot. MMA star Cung Le plays the drifter in question with admirable intensity and charisma considering being hamstrung by the poor source material. With JCVD as his prison mentor he hones his skills and upon release proceeds to St Jude to carry out some good old fashioned character reformation via ass-whooping.
Of course, Cung Le is fantastic in the action sequences and to give praise where it’s due doesn’t fall by the way side when he’s occasionally asked to do a little acting along with the crescent kicks. JCVD handles his supporting role professionally (he only appears in flashbacks) but his physical talents are drastically underused.
A film like Dragon Eyes should be the kind of experience that a rugged, manly and modest fella like me can throw on after a hard day’s work and disengage his brain to and have fun. Unfortunately, barring a few excellently choreographed fight sequences, the film was too dour to raise a smile.
The entire film has an oversaturated yellow push to the frame, almost screaming ‘please take me seriously, I’m a gritty hood drama’ while looking forlornly for acceptance like a puppy who’s took a shit on your kitchen floor. Pacing is disjointed, the prison flashbacks offer nothing to the movie that a sole five minute exposition scene would not have accomplished itself and it commits the crime of feeling like a sustained chore to watch despite its short run time.
These factors coupled with the at times ridiculous character motivations scupper the film too much for me to recommend it and not expect a Cung Le style beating from anyone who watches it on my say so. The only saving graces are Le’s surprisingly effective performance and former Robocop Peter Weller hamming it up quite wonderfully as a neighbourhood mob boss.
If you feel you’re a massive genre fan who can forgive its faults, Dragon Eyes may pass 90 minutes in a satisfactory way, like a double cheeseburger from McDonalds sans gherkins. However, if you’re looking for a bit more than that stay away. While the subscription is cheap, your time is not free and could be better spent re-watching Kickboxer for the 89th time.
“You bleed like Mylee!”