December 29, 2005


DRAGON SQUAD is a dour, joyless, slambang action ride

Executive produced by Steven Seagal and with its sense of fun surgically removed, DRAGON SQUAD is a dour, joyless, slambang action ride that provided me with more laughs per second than KUNG FU HUSTLE. The plot is about 5 kids (the Dragon Squad!) from different agencies (CIA, SAS, INTERPOL, MIA, PDA, ASPCA) who come to Hong Kong to deliver evidence in a trial against Panther Chien, a bad guy. But Panther gets abducted by a group of mercenaries and the disgraced kids are left in the care of Sammo Hung.

Try these motivations on for size and try not to giggle. The Dragon Squad wants to capture Panther Chien because they want to restore their good name. Within the Squad, Shawn Yue wants to make his sick brother proud of him, Eva Huang (KUNG FU HUSTLE) is an undercover cop who once fell in love with her target and now she needs closure so she can love again, Lawrence Chou Vanness Wu who's the new kid and is recording everything with a video camera in order to get at "the truth," is one of a quartet of kids who lost their dads in a police shootout years ago and she wants to make her dead father proud, while sniper Xia Yu is nursing a crush on Eva Huang but he's too shy to tell her. Sammo Hung not only needs to reconcile with his daughter who hates him for being a workaholic, but he also wants to get back at one of the mercenaries, Ko, who killed his officers in a robbery bust gone wrong. But Simon Yam blames Sammo Hung for the death of his men for acting without orders, and Ko blames Sammo Hung for the death of his criminals that day. Meanwhile, Petros (Michael Biehn from THE TERMINATOR) is not only in love with Panther Chien's brother's ex-girlfriend, Lee Bing-bing, but his brother was killed by Panther years ago on that exact same shootout! The mercenaries want to kill Panther and his brother, Tiger, who betrayed them and wow! I'm out of breath.

If a movie with these kind of over-motivated, under-developed characters doesn't grab you right off the bat, then just wait until you hear about the wall-to-wall action. Its arteries hardened with whip pans, smash zooms, freeze-frames and flashbacks, with portentous titles flashed on the screen like "Hidden Character, Veiled Strength" the action scenes are DOA. Playing fast and loose with time and space, characters are on the third floor of a parking garage one minute, and down on the street the next. A woman ducks around a corner and two seconds later she's managed to rig the entire area with complicated booby traps, some of which involved 200 foot long cables and treetop pulley systems.

But if you go in knowing how bad this movie is (and it's bad) you can get by on the jokes. The Dragon Squad keep returning to a shooting gallery for some reason to prove some hazy, difficult to understand point, and here's a slo-mo jogging sequence that might have you wetting your pants with laughter. Every cliche you've ever seen in an action movie (character dying in slow motion while Cantopop plays, guy electrocuted to death, dead body falls out window with chain around ankle and dangles, fellow killed in movie theater in sync with onscreen gunshot) is on full, risible display.

Simon Yam must have shot his scenes while on lunch break from ELECTION, and he's barely in the movie. Sammo Hung, Michael Biehn and Maggie Q all survive with their dignity somewhat intact. The rest? They get to the end of this flick with whatever dignity they had in tatters.

Daniel Lee (WHAT PRICE SURVIVAL? BLACK MASK) was once one of Hong Kong's most promising stylists, but now the world has caught up with him and rendered whatever talents he once had totally redundant. Lie down, Daniel, let them shovel dirt on you. It's over.

December 29, 2005 at 09:31 AM in Reviews | Permalink


Wow, Grady, what a harsh but ever so funny review!!! :DDD

Now for the nitpicks:-

1) That was Vanness Wu (of F4 infamy), not the much maligned Lawrence Chou, as "the new kid [who] is recording everything with a video camera in order to get at "the truth". Meanwhile Lawrence Chou was...god, I can't remember (either)! ;(

2) As for "character dying in slow motion while Cantopop plays": For shame! Didn't you recognize that the song that got played twice in "Dragon Squad" actually was the not Cantopop "When I Dream" song used in "Shiri"? ;b

Posted by: YTSL | Dec 29, 2005 7:19:23 PM

I have to confess - by the time that song started playing I was actually smacking myself in the side of the head to stay awake.

AND - I do need a remedial course in a lot of the young Chinese stars. The wave that gave us Shawn Yue was the last I could differentiate from each other. By the time we get to this latest round I'm feeling old and having a hard time catching up.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Dec 29, 2005 7:26:34 PM

interesting review, similar to one i recently read on an South East Asian website called Think.com.my, check it out:


Posted by: paul | Jan 2, 2006 3:00:34 AM

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