Judge Daryl Loomis hopes Dragon City has a well-funded fire department.
A post-apocalyptic punk rock musical adventure.
That sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is, unfortunately. Really, Dragon City is just an elongated and bloated music video that doesn't really make sense. Maybe I'd just gotten my hopes up for the Chinese punk version of Help! and it didn't deliver, but I was mostly bored by the incoherence of it all.
It's a post-apocalyptic world and the No Name Band wanders desolate China, looking for any way to survive. That's when they meet an enigmatic American nutcase who owns a club and offers them shelter in exchange for their musical talents. They agree, play a few songs, and return to the wasteland, having learned a little something along the way.
What they learned, however, is kind of a mystery, because Dragon City is as rambling as it gets. It starts fun enough, with a couple of bodies and a cheap vibe that delivers the feeling that this is a punk production. All of this is in Chinese and it's just fine. Then the westerner comes in, it switches to English and stops making any sense whatsoever. Then music starts and then it ends. It all happens over the course of 39 minutes, which is mercifully short given how I wound up feeling about it, but which reveals that this is just a music video blown up to a scale it doesn't deserve.
I'm sure director Darryl Pestilence did the best he could, as did the No Name Band, but they're all better suited to the music aspect of this than they are to the filmmaking side. Were this presented as an extended music video, it might have been easier to accept, but I was expecting an actual movie, and this is definitely not that.
For fans of stuff like this, though, the DVD from MVD is a fairly stacked affair. The 1.85:1 anamorphic image doesn't look particularly great, but it gets the job done. Colors are fairly accurate and black levels are good, but the detail is really lacking throughout the frame. The sound isn't as strong as you want to hear for what amounts to a concert film, but there's a bit of punch and it's always clear, so it's not so bad.
There are a number of extras to delight fans of the thing, though. It starts with an audio commentary with Darryl Pestilence, who is proud of the work but rightly acknowledges the many flaws in the project. The disc continues with Pestilence's previous short film, Nama Gomi, which is a more focused and artsy film; it also features a commentary of its own. From there, we're looking at a whole mess of music videos and trailers.
I'm sure that much of my disappointment in Dragon City comes from my unnecessarily heightened expectations for it, but that doesn't change the fact that it's an overlong bore with less than thrilling music and terrible performances. I suppose there's some novelty value involved, but don't let the promise I felt cloud the fact this is little more than a bloated music video.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
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