Dragon Wasps (UK DVD)
Directed by Joe Knee
Distributed by Chelsea Films
Nefarious corporations are up to their old tricks again — this time in the depths of the Belizean jungle, where some scientific nature meddling has lead to an active colony of fire-breathing flying beasties in director Joe Knee’s deliriously ridiculous Dragon Wasps. The corporation in question is the amusingly named “Transgentec”, whom the father of entomologist and lead protagonist Gina Humphries (Juillet) disappears while under the employ of. As she sets off into the jungle with her plucky assistant Rhonda (Noel) after being presented with her father’s abandoned rucksack, GPS technology points to a restricted area of the jungle currently under the protection of a rag-tag gang of soldiers led by officer… wait for it… John Hammond (Nemec, in top form).
With the jungle rendered dangerous territory due to the activities of a cocaine trafficking gang led by the one-eyed, voodoo-spouting Jaguar (Gildon Roland), Gina and Rhonda find themselves given the courtesy of an armed escort as Hammond, recently served his reassignment papers, decides to lead one last hurrah in the jungle he calls home. From there, we get a couple of shootouts, horrible CGI explosions, even more horrible pasted-on CGI giant wasps, bullet impact effects that look lifted straight from a Call of Duty video game and more blatant absurdity than you can shake a stick (or stinger) at. Despite the more than obvious shortcomings, though, Dragon Wasps actually manages to be quite a bit of fun.
Moving along at a consistently snappy pace, Dragon Wasps always manages to keep viewer interest intact throughout. Director Knee knows there’s a formula here and steadfastly refuses to budge from it (unless the restricted budget forces so) – instead leaving it to Mark Atkins and Rafael Jordan’s script to take the occasional knowing pot-shot at the proceedings. The main cast are uniformly decent except for a couple of notable exceptions (David Stasko’s performance as Gina’s father is teeth-gratingly bad), but head and shoulders above anyone else is leading man Corin Nemec. Quickly becoming the go-to guy for low budget Syfy style schlock, Nemec delivers an admirable performance that is almost solely responsible for raising Dragon Wasps into watchable territory. You just can’t get tired of seeing the man in action, especially in a role that he’s obviously enjoying.
Getting back to the main attraction here – the creatures themselves are actually one of the most disappointing aspects of Dragon Wasps. Blurry and poorly rendered, they lack presence in almost every scene, looking slapped-on and unfocused. Even the brief look at a physically created dead wasp is below par, looking next to nothing like the CGI creations being thrown all over the screen. Things improve in the latter stages with some pretty gory “births” from human bodies, but a potential confrontation with the queen wasp (and hey, isn’t that really a given for this kind of flick?) is ignored altogether in favour of a couple of brief glimpses at the beast in the background.
Still, as mentioned, it’s difficult not to still have some fun with the flick. Comedic moments chucked in here and there really do work, Nemec is a blast to watch, and the knowing sense of ludicrousness is infectious. It’s rarely (if ever) dull, and honestly, where else are you going to see characters rubbing their bodies in coca leaves (and thus experiencing the, erm… effects of it) to ward off giant bugs and using blocks of cocaine as substitution for plastic explosive? It makes about as much sense as the rest of Dragon Wasps does, and the flick knows it. Now that is something that can be respected.
Good movie? Hell no. Entertaining enough waste of time? Certainly.
Chelsea Films’ DVD release of Dragon Wasps comes with only the film’s trailer as the sole special feature.
2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5