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?
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.