ADV Films presents
Dragon Blue Volume 1: Beneath The Waves... Terror Awaits (1996)
"After many centuries man's greed and evil deeds have become so lethal the shield is weakening. Humanity's iniquity now exceeds the bounds of Heaven and Earth. It cuts loose the demons that had once been fettered."- Tenkai (unknown actor)
Stars: Hiroko Tanaka, Keiji Mutoh
Director: Takayu Wada
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for gore, nudity, sexuality
Run Time: 01h:12m:16s
Release Date: 2003-04-15
DVD ReviewThe heroine of Dragon Blue Volume I: Beneath The Waves...Terror Awaits is the lovely young Mayuko Mizuki (Hiroko Tanaka), a wide-eyed Feng Shui practitioner who is reluctantly summoned to a remote Japanese island to help rid it of a mythical sea demon who has been attacking and killing young women. As we learn in the prologue, Mayuko is some kind of spiritual heir to the Clan of the Dragons (whatever that is), and sports a pair of magic bracelets that are supposed to keep her inner "dragon power" at bay until she really needs it. At least, that's what she's told by the ghostly apparition of some ancient priest during an encounter in the film's cliché-filled opening sequence.
When Mayuko arrives on the island, she crosses paths with a hunky detective (played by Japanese wrestling superstar Keiji Mutoh), and though they don't get along at first, you can quickly count down the minutes until they join forces to beat the stuffing out of the latex monstrosity that is plaguing partially nude Asian women. Add to the mix a young child with a mysterious connection to the sea demon, as well as spirit dreams, a demented charlatan priest, and a magical sword that gives Mayuko dragon power (again, whatever that is), and you pretty much have the nuts and bolts of this pretty girl vs. guy-in-a-monster-suit chopsocky opera.
Part of Dragon Blue's alleged charm is that the creature effects were done by Steve Wang (Relic, Predator, The Guyver), and while that might sound marginally impressive, they look no better than any of the rubber-suited bipedal monsters that used to menace The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The film's Sea Demon has a hint of the Predator about him (at least appearance-wise), but that's where any resemblance ends. The big fight sequence between dragon-power-enhanced Mayuko and the latex creature is utterly laughable, and features some horribly stiff waddling and awkward arm flailing.
I'm not really certain of the origins of Dragon Blue, but it plays with the calculated weight and balance of a low-rent series, as if this might be the Japanese answer of sorts to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, of course minus the solid writing and comparatively cohesive storylines. While Hiroko Tanaka is certainly cute and does battle demons, take it from me: she's no Buffy.
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||no|
Image Transfer Review: ADV Films has released Dragon Blue in a 1.85:1 nonanamorphic transfer, and aside from the aspect ratio issue, the transfer is fairly decent. Colors are not overly robust, and image detail is not the sharpest, but the overall transfer is more than presentable for this lightweight fare.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The sole audio option is the original Japanese language track, provided in 2.0 surround. The whole presentation is very clean, with an actual bit of unexpected bass rumble popping up in spots.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, Daimajin, Yokai Monsters: One Hundred Monsters, Gamera: Attack of Legion, Yokai Monsters: Along with Ghosts, Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare
Packaging: AGI Media Packaging
Extras Review: ADV has attached a handful of similarly themed rubber-suited trailers, but not much else.
The disc is cut into 8 chapters, and includes optional English subtitles.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsThis is definitely niche stuff, and if your genre tastebuds salivate for tacky rubber-suited Japanese fare with a hint of skin, then Dragon Blue Volume 1: Beneath The Waves... Terror Awaits might suffice.
Rich Rosell 2003-06-05