Reel Action: Dragon Eyes (2012), starring Cung Le and Jean-Claude Van Damme

Rating: 1.5 out of 4

Directed by: John Hyams
Starring: Cung Lee, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Peter Weller

THE PLAN: Some dude (Cung Lee) that can't act but that can throw a kick like nobody's beeyatch, gets out of prison, hits some hood and plays two street gangs against each other Yujimbo style for personal reasons. Did I mention he was trained by Van Damme while in the pen? Well now did. 

THE KILL: Even though the trailer for John Hyams DRAGON EYES did jack shit for me, the man gave us the badass UNIVERSAL SOLDIER REGENERATION and VAN DAMME had a small role in it, so I couldn't pass it up. So did I regret my decision? Euh, kind of. I will give DRAGON EYES this, the countless fight sequences were brutal, well choreographed and expertly executed by the actors/stunt dudes. The lead (as played by real life kickboxer and mixed martial arts artist Cung Lee) knows how to whoop that ass that is for sure. Respect!

I also dug the presence of a tanned beyond belief Peter Weller as one of the head scumbags. He had a blast with the role and I had fun clocking him chew the scenery like he was stocking up for winter. Finally, although only briefly seen in the movie, Jean Claude Van Damme shined as the guilt stricken inmate who teaches our hero how to throw them kicks in flashbacks. JC is becoming an expert at playing them weary and older badasses and every time he was onscreen here, the movie came to life.

Alas there was a lot that rubbed me the wrong way in this Can-Can party. The cheapie looks of the film (sepia, yellow filters etc.) took away from it and made me want to hurl after a while. Our main hero lacked charisma and came off as flatter than Kristen Stewart on a bad day, so it was hard for me to root for him. On their end the slew of henchmen reeked of poseur-ism, actors playing hoods as opposed to the genuine article. Moreover, the stakes were too low! So these guys were fighting over a turf that's deserted and decrepit? Ummm...why again? That's like two kids fighting over a piece of dog poo, made no sense to me.

He can kick, but he truly can't act.

Then we had the random plot inconsistencies (like bad guys joining the good camp for no reason), odd storytelling ploys (A flashback within a flashback...really man?) and the female lead being a useless pawn in a sad sack game. She was only there to be taken hostage at some point... wasn't worth it. At least have her drop her top or something, ya know, justify her presence. Lastly, the flick dragged big time during it's last act (I was begging for it to end already). Talk about overkill! So all in all,  even though I esteemed what Dragon Eyes pulled off with its tiny budget (most of it must have gone to Weller and Van Damme) and its fight sequences were exhilarating, eveything else was so subpar that it all became mucho redundant quickly. I can't recommend it.

This movie so needed more Van Damme.

TOP ACTION:  It all looked the same after a while. Cung Le kicking ass with all kinds of fly kicks, no one scene stood out.

TOP DEATH: I'd say the last henchman, that tough Brit got it real good.

TOP DIALOGUE: None. Dialogue was not this film's strength.


FEMALE EXPLOITATION: Yup we get some titties.

DRINKING GAME: Drink every time you think "Man the cinematography looks like ass".

TRIVIA: During a fight scene, Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally chipped an extra's teeth with a kick.


Tags: reel action



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