There are films that have great messages that must be seen in order for a necessary public discussion to be had. Unfortunately, most of these films have been made in the past and they were made by filmmakers and studios who were in it for the art AND the commerce. Especially, U.S. commerce. Today, some Hollywood studios (and more than a few filmmakers) are too willing to censor their own work (see “Iron Man 3″) or change storylines in order to maximize foreign grosses and not to some offend foreign government subsidizers/partners (see China).
Thankfully, “Dragon Day” and its filmmakers are not part of the Hollywood machine. “Dragon Day” is an intrepid film which foresees a day when China calls in its U.S. debts and wants to collect its due. Only, unlike the Russians and Cubans in the original “Red Dawn,” today’s Chinese Communists attempt to take over the United States electronically and digitally by hacking our technology systems.
On the same day of a Chinese sneak hack-attack, a former National Security Agency employee named Duke Evans takes his family on a trip back to his late father’s mountain home. The Evans family first encounters the attack via a bank ATM not working and then by seeing commercial airliners and military planes fall from the sky. Finally, an emergency message comes on their television and their cell phones telling them what they just witnessed and that the Chinese are now in charge. A technology expert, Duke figures out that we Americans gave the Chinese government the perfect way to take us over without firing a shot… selling us Trojan horse micro-computer chips and buying our government’s debt.
Resources like food, power, gas and water become scarce after the Chinese takeover and local compliance to America’s new masters is enforced on Duke’s family by a bad local, backwoods Sheriff Watson. Unfortunately, the Sheriff is bad in deed and in acting style. Without much logic behind it, Sheriff Watson (played by a mirrored sunglasses-wearing David Delsing) becomes the point man for turning local residents into Chinese subjects and for personally breaking Duke. Compounding the Sheriff’s misdeeds, is Mr. Delsing’s interpretation of his role as an imitation of Captain in “Cold Hand Luke.” The only thing missing is a “what we have here is a failure to communicate” line. This character is likely intended to be the Chinese government’s local hammer, but Sheriff Watson brings way more confusion to the story than anything else.
This film does also suffer from weak acting in other roles, however good performances come from Eloy Mendez as the Mexican migrant worker, “Alonso Benavidez,” and Ethan Flower as Duke. It is not that the other actors are bad. It is just that a number of them aren’t what this film needs to tell such a big story. There are some major leaps of faith (and logic) in the film’s story which makes one wonder if this is due to the film’s lack of budget or lack of actors capable of elevating the matter through performance or improvisation. “Dragon Day” is a film not lacking in ambition and the intimacy of what happens to Duke Evans and his family has a certain “On The Beach” (1959) to it. This intimacy is a great strength as it helps to pull the viewer into the story by making them think… how would I or my family react if this all really happened? It is a great question to ponder in this world of government computer hacking (and spying) and our society’s growing dependence on technology.
“Dragon Day” ends with a surprise that will make many squirm in their seat. You may see it coming, but not in the way or method that you thought you would. While the film may not reach great heights in every scene, it does push a viewer to challenge themselves like few other movies have recently. The national and personal security issues this film brings forth should be discussed by many Americans. “Dragon Day” is a film worthy of your DVD viewing if you can look past some acting deficiencies and major script holes. But then again, many Hollywood films have those problems today. The film is not yet rated and is available on DVD/Blu-Ray at www.dragondaymovie.com. “Dragon Day” is not rated, but is available on Blu-Ray and DVD at www.dragondaymovie.com.
2 Stars out of 4.
Originally published on The Willams View © 2013-2014