Home > Reviews > DRAGON WARS (D-WAR) – Steve Jablonsky

DRAGON WARS (D-WAR) – Steve Jablonsky

September 14, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A very silly Korean monster movie directed by Hyung-Rae Shim, Dragon Wars (or D-War as it is alternately known) stars Jason Behr, Amanda Brooks and Robert Forster, and is based on an old Korean legend about mythological creatures called Imoogi, who every 500 years or so emerge from their hiding places, transform into enormous dragons, and do battle over the ownership of a mystical power source. Caught up in the middle of this ancient conflict is Ethan (Behr), a Los Angeles-based photojournalist who in a past life was a noble warrior in feudal Korea, and Sarah (Brooks), who is the reincarnation of the warrior’s love, and who (inexplicably) is the also guardian of the power source the dragons desire.

If all this sounds preposterous and hokey, the vast majority of film critics agreed; Dragon Wars sunk without a trace at the US box office, despite being one of the most expensive and successful domestic Korean movies ever made. Composing the score for Dragon Wars was Steve Jablonsky – the second time in 2007 he would write music for a film in which huge monsters do battle over Los Angeles. To acknowledge the film’s cultural heritage, Jablonsky incorporated a version of the famous Korean folk song “Arirang” into his score. A deconstructed version of the piece appears in the pretty opening piece, “Imoogi”, and also in “Yeouijoo”, and it is given its most attractive rendition in the rousing closing cue, complete with a choir and impressive orchestrations.

When the Arirang theme is not present, Dragon Wars sounds like a prototypical Remote Control/Media Ventures score: propulsive action music, dense orchestrations, a heroic male voice choir, prominent blending of synths with the orchestra, and so on. One could almost conceive that Dragon Wars was Jablonsky’s dry run for Transformers, as the two works share a number of stylistic similarities. However, Dragon Wars is clearly the better of the two; the undulating four-note piano line which runs through the score is simple and effective, the choral work seems better integrated into the fabric of the score (especially in the apocalyptic “The Altar”), the “Love Theme” is epic and attractive, and the action music seems less forced, and less agitated than it does in Transformers.

Cues such as “Village Attack”, “General and His Army”, “Battle in the Sky” and “D-War” are quite impressive, especially when they use oriental percussion and choral effects, and although the spectre of scores like The Peacemaker and The Rock remain ever-present, hovering over everything, Dragon Wars somehow seems a little fresher and less blatantly derivative than it could have been. A pleasant surprise.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Imoogi (2:19)
  • The Legend Awakes (5:57)
  • Village Attack (5:40)
  • Love Theme (1:40)
  • Yeouijoo (2:57)
  • General and His Army (1:00)
  • Second Life (1:18)
  • Destiny (2:55)
  • Battle in the Sky (2:24)
  • Hypnosis and Flashback (2:32)
  • Cafe Attack (1:58)
  • Rooftop Showdown (2:31)
  • The Altar (2:22)
  • Buraki (2:52)
  • D-War (2:01)
  • Farewell (2:41)
  • Arirang (3:16)

Running Time: 46 minutes 23 seconds

Milan/Sony BMG SB90109C (2007)

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