After a couple weeks’ worth of clever, what-the-fuck nuttiness at the New York Asian Film Festival, self-serious commercial pap like this Westernized fraud makes Dragonball: Evolution seem like high art. Korean actress Gianna Jun (formerly Jeon Ji-hyun, star of My Sassy Girl) is given little to do beyond titillating fanboys. She plays a 400-year-old Japanese half-vampire who works with a covert council to hunt other bloodsuckers in her ageless form as an undercover schoolgirl. But as enticing as “Blade meets 21 Jump Street” might sound, Kiss of the Dragon hack Chris Nahon’s live-action adaptation of a 2001 cult anime film is unexciting, incoherent, lamely acted, and carelessly written (set during the Vietnam war, its attempt at historical nuance is, “I can’t believe they’d let a Jap enroll here”), and even its F/X mish-mash is an eyesore. Slick wire-fu spectacles come courtesy of a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon producer, while the incongruously clunky monsters are Ray Harryhausen throwbacks, and the movie’s incessant, cheaply produced CGI splatters look like oil geysers. There will be blood, yes, because you, too, will be ready to fall on your samurai sword.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2009