Dragon Head


Dragon Head is based on a series of manga, and it is more than evident this action film could have well been an anime feature.

Dragon HeadOnce again we have a Japanese film set in a post apocalyptic world. It’s really quite sad when you realise that the notion of total and utter destruction has not (and apparently never will) left the Japanese psyche. From Gojira to Akira, so many Japanese films feature the instantaneous levelling of cities. What’s even more sad is that this is often made out to be a given part of their future. I’ve lost count of the number of times where the opening of anime mentions only in passing the fact that millions of lives were lost. Just goes to show how far two atom bombs can go… The rest of the world might move on, conveniently talking about how it ‘ended the war’, but Japan’s film and comic writers must have their finger on the pulse.

Sorry, I got sidetracked. Here’s a summation that will enable me to move on and actually review this film – 1: killing’s bad; and 2: there’s no such thing as the greater good.

My fellow cinemagoers did not take too kindly to Dragon Head. Keeping in mind that this was a screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), there were more than a few derisive chuckles, aggravated sighs and walkouts. Expectations are very different at a film festival, and audiences react in ways they never would when watching a mainstream release.

I for one thought that such behaviour was a little unnecessary. Dragon Head does have some dodgy acting, and a bad script (or maybe bad subtitling), but there are also some jaw dropping moments. A couple of dream/hallucination sequences are terrific, and every now and again there’s a large explosion which can knock your socks off.

Once again I say that this could have been a great piece of anime, and perhaps had the audience been a little more savvy to such Japanese styles of storytelling, they may have liked it more.

Dragon Head is for the most part flawed, but it has its moments.

Rating: 1.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 27th July 2004
Hoopla Factor: 2 stars

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