When I have heard that Cung Le will join Jean-Claude van Damme on the sets of the Dragon Eyes movie I became obsessed by getting more info about that, especially knew that Joel Silver is going to produce it. For those who know nothing about Joel Silver I will refresh your mind, this big man is responsible for such movies as 48 Hrs., Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Road House, The Matrix and a lot of other action blockbusters. But since I watched the trailer I stopped expecting something special from Dragon Eyes and was absolutely right.
Dragon Eyes starts with a star performance of Van Damme’s kicks and a very good fighting choreography by Cung Le, I was impressed with his first fight. But… I want to re-name Dragon Eyes to “Out for My Money” movie, because the most repeated phrase in this unhurried movie, where Cung Le plays a mysterious stranger who rolls into town with plans of wiping out the bad element, is “Where is my f** money?”.
Come on, guys, I know you can do better! I gave up on the project somewhere in the beginning. I understand you wanted to do a 70’s grindhouse film, using sepia tones blended in to create a unique look, but all these boilerplate texts, black gangsters with angry look, druggies, Latino and British criminals around look funny and a very predictable. Do you really wanted to mix it all up?
Moreover I expected much more from Van Damme as a mentor, sure he can teach something else than just throw a few kicks and use a fake gun in a defensive technique. In a prison? Seriously?
Oh, what was unusual for me it is to hear the word “ninja” in this movie addressed to Cung Le, who is walking around, kicking asses and stealing money from gang to gang like a wizard.
Dragon Eyes has a very simple plot about revenge, but it is filmed in so terrible and complicated way that you catch yourself on thoughts like “Do I really watch the action movie with Van Damme or it is another art-house film?”. For example there is a scene involving two gangs teaming up to take out Cung Le, with no motivation at all, a few of them turn on each other and start fighting. The main villain Peter Weller has no back-story at all. Van Damme has only flashbacks, where he meets Hong in prison after saving him from a beat-down, then he turns him into a martial arts master. I have a feeling that a big part of the script was just cut out.
I would not recommend you to spend your time on Dragon Eyes, but action sequences deserve your attention for sure, another good job of top-notch choreographer Larnell Stovall and Cung Le, but it is only 10 minutes. Trevor Prangley looks really tough as the main fighting guy.