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Review: Dragon Dawn (2013)

November 6, 2014

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In the near future, Duke Evans (Ethan Flower) is laid off from the NSA just as his house gets foreclosed on. He goes to his grandfather’s old and photogenic cabin in the mountains of drought-stricken California with his wife Leslie (Asa Wallander), incompetent sister Rachel (Jenn Gotzon) and daughter Emma (Hope Laubach). As they arrive, China, realizing that we will never pay back our monster pile of debt to them, launch a cyber attack against the US knocking out most of the infrastructure in the nation. Once the power goes out, the family must struggle with food, energy, water shortages, the people that instantly turn evil as soon as something like this happens,and a government that seems to have surrendered to the Chinese. Albert Grimes (William Knight) supplies the “crusty old curmudgeon” as a better prepared neighbor. Eloy Mendez plays a Mexican national the family is involved with when the cyber war begins.

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It’s made at about the same level as I suspect the independent films servicing the Christian community are at: low-budget but high-concept. The central idea is interesting – that the conspiracy rumor that China is adding Trojans to the chips that we produce as an economic Doomsday weapon rings a little truer than, say, the Invasion USA scenario. Not sure I buy the idea that the Chinese could turn off any chip that didn’t have a connection to the internet (Duke actually says that it’s due to a “nano core duplex microwave transmitter”). VFX in the movie was effective and subtle for the most part – budget probably has something to do with that. I’ll also give it credit – it had the balls to use China as the enemy, rather than North Korea like the Red Dawn remake.

As the film goes on, we’re introduced to turncoat Sheriff  Watson (Dennis Delsing). We need someone to hiss at, and Watson is what Director Jeffery Travis (sharing writing credit with Matt Patterson) gives us. Watson offers Duke some “Citizen Freedom Bands” (hereafter called CFBs, because I’m not typing the whole phrase again…)

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The CFBs seem to be made of Unobtanium and Star Trek technology – thin and light, unbreakable, but capable of SPOILERS carrying a lethal electrical charge along with a speaker, and some kind of smart chip that can recognize the wearer as they put it on, and also recognize that the wearer has crossed a perimeter around their house. How do they do that if the internet and power doesn’t work?

Problems with plot holes abound. Needing water, Watson pushes Duke around to fix a broken well pump on the property. Seriously, the assembly sits on top of the ground – how hard could it be to simply buy and install a new one? And Evil Sheriff can commandeer Albert’s old truck in an emergency no problem, but can’t seem to commandeer a new pump from the local Farm & Feed? Also, Watson seems to have the CFBs before everything happens –  doesn’t that seem to imply that the whole cyber attack was preplanned and that nobody in the US command structure told anybody that this was happening? Shades of 9/11 conspiracy buffs…

And the chips seem to selectively turn off as well. The Army seems to have working vehicles, but the Chinese attack supposedly turned them all off, but maybe they can  turn them on in certain situations? That hole could have been solved with a couple of lines of dialog.

I’m going with a “not recommended’ on this one – go watch the original Red Dawn instead.

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