Dragon Head review by The Grim Ringler

From time to time you come across a movie that just twists your head in circles and donkey punches you into next Thursday, this is just such a film. My friend Oktober had been reading about it and was curious to see it and by sheer luck and maybe the hairy hand of Fate he received a boot of it in the mail with another film he’d ordered and boy am I happy he did. Far from a happy-go-lucky-let’s bake-a-cake movie, this is what I would wager Day After Tomorrow meant to be before the hype and Hollywood got involved.

During a class trip to Kyoto a train full of students is derailed by some mysterious earthquakes and all but three of the students are killed. Trying to figure out what has happened and see if they can find survivors or rations, two of the three students, a boy and girl, team up but the other, another boy who had been picked on through school has lost what little sanity had remained for him and the boy and girl must escape his madness and strike out on their own to see if they can find help. Upon escaping the tunnel the train had been trapped in though what they find is a world gone mad. They enter a dead world, ash falling from the sky like snow, and everything they had known in ruin. Uncertain whether to go on or to give up, the two push forward, the dim hope of finding sanity in this madness keeping them going. The girl and boy happen upon a town but find that insanity has spread like despair and no one can be trusted in this new world of horror. As they realize the extent of the devastation they ponder what has happened – volcano? Nuclear war? Meteors? – and pray for a way to survive. No matter what happens to the two though their trust and growing devotion to one another keeps them moving forward, even when faced finally with the face of the true enemy – a volcano which rises like a monster from the earth, spewing its contents across the landscape and darkening hope altogether.

A heartbreakingly stark film, Dragon Head is a brilliant look at the end of the world, or rather, the end of the known world. Despite how bleak and dark the film gets – and believe me, it gets dark, like when we find out that a doctor lobotomized his children to save them from fear in this new, dark world – the two main characters and their devotion to one another, even when hope is flagging, keeps things from getting too unbearable. The special effects, much of which is computer generated, is very well utilized and doesn’t intrude too much on the beautiful sets and the equally stark acting. The two leads, wandering the film in a bit of a daze, are compelling because of their refusal to give up, no matter how bleak the world is. And in the end it is their hope that gives this film such a very big heart.

This is a beautiful, if dark film, and I really hope that it finds its way to American shores. I saw a boot but it had very clean, very clear subs and the image was very strong. The sound was in 5.1 and had a good deal of rumble-rama during some of the scenes of destruction that occurs. It can be a slow film, and certainly won’t make you want to go roll around in the daisies but it’s a great film and deserves to be seen.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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