Greetings from the Underground!
From the director of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter comes a new wild and wooly indie action comedy that is sure to trigger someone. Enter the Drag Dragon is about an amateur detective and drag queen named Crunch who takes what should be a simple case looking for a lost dog. Soon Crunch and his friends are dealing with mummies, zombies, a group of special powered gangsters, androids, and ghosts in the abandoned movie theater they call home. Can Crunch’s drag-fu help defeat these foes and return the dog to its owner, or does the case get too big to handle?
I am not overstating it when I say Director Lee Demarbre’s “Drag-fu Odyssey” is one of the most outrageous, over the top ode to exploitation films to be released in recent years. It has all the humor of modern Troma mixed with Demarbre’s love for the city of Ottawa, with a few musical numbers thrown in for flavor. Four people play the role of Crunch, each one bringing their own look and identity to the character, yet thanks to the talent of Jade London, Samnaang Tep, Sam Kellerman, and Matt Miwa they still all feel like Crunch. Beatrice Beres plays Crunch’s friend Jaws as the perfect balance to Crunch. She is badass, funny, and is as strong of a character as Crunch. There is also the Aztec Mummy and its Zombie Army, conversion therapy militia, and F.I.S.T. (Fearsome International Spies and Thieves.) All are written with the same abandonment as our hero and even have their own intro tags.
But as wild as the characters are, Mark Pollesel has constructed a coherent, linear story that has character arcs, laughs, and songs that move the story. The jokes are lewd, crude, and fitting for the world in which these characters live. There is a high production aesthetic and all the colorful costumes and props create a unique visual identity. You will never look at a pair of nunchackus the same way again. The most surprising thing is the cinematography by Petr Maur, Robert Patterson, and Randy Smith. Every scene is wonderfully shot, with some creative angles. It is some of the best drone use that I have seen in an indie production. The locations help show off the beauty of Ottawa and made me want to visit. I also appreciate the use of miniatures and forced perspective. Even the animated special effects look great. There are plenty of action scenes that work within the abilities of the cast and they all have a fun energy. Most of the running gimmicks worked. There is the use of a particular phrase that, while it is called out by the other characters, I felt did not need to be in there. Outside of that, Lee Demarbre and company more than deliver what was promised in the trailer.
Enter the Drag Dragon is not going to be for everyone. Each viewer will find at least one thing that will ruffle their feather boa. Underneath the surface of the ball-room dresses and cha-cha heels are statements about drag culture, acceptance of various life styles, greed, and even workplace harassment. There is also the theme of friendship and being comfortable in one’s own skin. I watched this on a Saturday morning and I laughed so hard my wife had to ask if I was okay. Not sure what that says about my sense of humor but what it does say is that if you can make it past the first five minutes, this one’s for you. 4 out of 5 stubs.