*½/**** Image D Sound D
starring Julian Jung Lee, Barbara Gehring, Trygve Lode
screenplay by Robert Gosnell
directed by Mark Steven Grove
by Walter Chaw I came to the startling and somewhat crushing realization midway through it that not only have I seen worse movies than Mark Steven Grove's Dragon and the Hawk, I've seen worse movies today. Shot in and around Denver and Littleton, Colorado at locations where I've been tooling about for most of my life, Dragon and the Hawk is formula chop-socky involving martial arts master "Dragon" (Korean Tae Kwan Do expert Julian Lee) as a fish out of water looking for his missing sister (Gayle Galvez). The villain Therion (Trygve Lode) has abducted li'l sis and is injecting her with some kind of serum that turns innocent schoolgirls into goth hench-chicks. It's up to Dragon and maverick cop "Hawk" (Barbara Gehring) to save the Denver metropolitan area from...goth hench-chicks, I guess.
The plot is entirely unimportant to Dragon and the Hawk and the film falters badly when it has its hugely inexperienced cast carry on bloated expository exchanges. The only things of interest in Dragon and the Hawk are its fight sequences, and while the styles and techniques are pretty decent, the sparse coverage and stilted pacing makes the action more decorative than kinetic. Still, the film is so cheerfully ridiculous and earnestly lowbrow that it elicits good-natured chuckles rather than feelings of anger or frustration. If you're feeling generous, you could even see Dragon and the Hawk as a pretty hilarious genre parody.
I'm feeling generous.
The independently released DVD of Dragon and the Hawk is predictably lo-fi. The fullscreen video image is grainy, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio sounds like a live, on-the-spot mix. Three trailers plus an embarrassing music video round out the presentation. Originally published: February 25, 2002.
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