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July 29, 2014


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Raimund Huber - 2013
Well Go USA Entertainment Region 1 DVD

Raimund Huber needs to just admit that there is an inverse scale between his ability to stage amazing martial arts fights and his ability to construct a decent screenplay. The reason why his previous film, Kill 'Em All is his strongest achievement to date is because there was little pretense here, just a bunch of assassins finding ways to kill each other until they realized that they needed to kill the guy who pitted them against each other. As it stands, Dragonwolf is mostly worth watching for the intricately choreographed fights, spiced up by gratuitous topless displays from various females. On the down side, the story gets in the way.

The story is essentially a bromance between Mozart and Julius, who meet as schoolboys, when Mozart comes to the aid of Julius, pushed around by a trio of equally young punks. The favor is returned when Julius and his mother take in the orphaned Mozart. The two grow up to be top ranked gangsters in a city called Devil's Cauldron, crime capital of the world, and a place that looks remarkable like Bangkok. And then along comes Mary, the girl with the dragon tattoo on her back. The inevitable sibling rivalry takes place, made worse by the fact that the dying mother of Julius is hardly subtle about her preference for the adopted Mozart.

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It does't help that the entire cast seems to have been unconvincingly dubbed in English. Actions speak louder than words, and they have to in this kind of movie. The effort put into the fight scenes is obvious with the high kicks, the quick movements of legs and hands. There is a trio set out to put down Mozart, dressed in flashy garb that screams an obvious lack of taste. They don't seem very bright, yet for all of their apparent goofiness, their fight skills can not be dismissed, even if they do get vanquished by Mozart.

There is also the sight of a small army of about twenty thugs, all dressed in identical black suits, white shirts and white masks, as well as the three ninjas dressed in black leather. In other words, a few moments of visual pleasure in seeing how some of the characters are dressed, but that scene with identically dressed thugs is one of the reminders that Raimund Huber sometimes tries to be a low rent Quentin Tarantino, at least as far as some of his action scenes are concerned. Huber also tries to keep things interesting with one very manic bad guy whose facial tics and maniacal laugh become so much that it's a relief for the viewer when he is suddenly killed by Julius.

The ending of the film suggests that we might be seeing more of Guk Srisawat as the vigilante Umiko. Sure, you have to get through almost two hours of Dragonwolf for the one seen that will probably endear her to fanboys of all ages. If Raimund Huber can put as much thought into a screenplay as he does with the martial arts and costuming, a movie about the sword carrying Umiko might be quite entertaining.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at July 29, 2014 07:02 AM