Let me just say that “Dream of a Warrior”, a South Korea/Hong Kong film, is as unfathomably bad as they come. If there is one saving grace to the Sci-Fi Romance it’s the presence of Lee Na-Yeong, who unfortunately dies before the film’s Third Act, but even before that is not onscreen nearly enough. Perhaps more of Lee would have saved this film, but that’s a pretty a tall order for a turkey of this caliber.
“Dream of a Warrior” stars Hong Kong pop idol Leon Lai (“Skyline Cruisers”) as a cop in a futuristic city (?) where a scientist name Jang has created what he calls (or at least, what the subtitles call) a time travel machine. Two years earlier, Jang, in his infinite wisdom (tongue firmly in cheek, of course), decided to use his 18-year old daughter Nam-hong (Park Eun-hye) as a guinea pig, and succeeded in sending her “back in time” where she is now, unfortunately, stuck. (Don’t you just hate it when that happens?)
Enter Leon Lai, who is contacted by the good Doctor. Yang informs Lai (and us) that his time travel machine is in fact not really a time travel machine, but a device that allows people to see their “past lives”. Of course, at this point I would assume that “past life” means our lives in the past, but apparently I would be wrong. The truth is, Jang’s device doesn’t send someone into the past, it sends them to an alternate parallel world. (Look, folks, I’m just going by what’s onscreen here. The subtitles are so atrocious that I couldn’t understand half of what’s being said.)
Long story short, Lai “relives” his past life with the help of Jang’s machine, and that whole “reliving” thing makes up the bulk of the movie’s scant 80-minute running time. Once Lai (who goes by Dean in his previous life) has finished reliving his previous life (which takes up 60 minutes of the film’s 80 minutes), he’s sent back to his previous life to save Nam-hong (who is Rose in her previous life) where she is presently trapped. He saves her and they return to their present life and live happily ever after. Or some such nonsense.
There are a number of glaring problems with “Dream of a Warrior,” and digesting them all in this review would take a couple of hundred pages. Needless to say, the film calls itself a Sci-Fi Romance, but it’s really nothing more than your standard B-movie madness. Dean and Rose’s previous life exists is in what the movie calls a “space outside of time and space” (?) and in a city called Dilmoon, which actually looks like a petrochemical plant gone terribly awry — or perhaps just bad set designs. The use of matte painting to give the city’s exterior scenes a sense of “alienness” is perhaps the film’s only successful stab. The rest is pure cheese.
Leon Lai has done much, much better work. In “Warrior,” Lai seems to be channeling Ekin Cheng by sporting a permanent deer-in-the-headlights expression and content to let his manga-inspired hair do the acting for him. Park Eun-hye is simply too young and is unable to elicit anything other than a melodramatic look of unresolved love. As previously mentioned, Lee Na-yeong’s Shosho, a black leather clad female warrior, is the film’s only highlight. She appears in the film’s first sequence, a chase along a pier, and then again in the Dilmoon setting. Shosho’s mysterious air (think Trinity from “The Matrix”) serves her well throughout the movie. Her death is laughable, but then again so is much of “Dream of a Warrior.” (Note: That’s Shosho standing next to Lai in the film’s poster.)
While in Lai’s past live we learn that Dilmoon is being attacked by a man name Paxtus and his band of…a dozen men? Apparently the magical city of Dilmoon can only muster 5 — count that, five — soldiers, including the city’s “Great General”, to battle this new menace. As you can already imagine, “Warrior” was DOA at the scripting stage, but unfortunately no one bothered to tell the film’s writer/director. As a result, a lot of money was wasted on not much of anything.
“Dream of a Warrior” wants to be part “Star Wars” and part “Krull”. It attempts to mix medieval sensibilities with a futuristic-inspired setting. The ending sequence, where Lai returns to his previous life to save Rose, goes in a completely different direction. Apparently up to this point Lai had been living in a futuristic setting, because he returns to Dilmoon as a armor-clad warrior, complete with morphing guns and swords! Which leaves me to wonder why Lai’s present, as revealed in the 20 minutes leading up to the film’s Dilmoon segments, looked more like the 1980s than the future?
Hee-joon Park (director) / Hee-joon Park (screenplay)
CAST: Leon Lai …. Dean
Na-yeong Lee …. Nam-Hong
Eun-hye Park …. Rose
Tae-young Yoon …. General Shanril