Mixed martial arts champion Cung Le gets his first lead role (since the unreleased 2007 film BLIZNIY BOY) in this interesting action thriller that co-stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Peter Weller.
Released from prison, Hong (Le) goes to the city of St. Jude Springs. He only has one intention in the city: clean the streets. After renting an apartment at a nearby barrio, he finds himself facing members of local gang the 6th Street Kings. Somehow, he also finds himself at odds with members of another local gang, the EastEnders. Hong discovers that the two gangs are in cahoots with each other as they work for corrupt police chief Victor Swan (Weller), who goes by “Mr. V.”
At first, Hong tries to play both gangs against each other after stealing money from them. However, he decides that he decides to play the gangs against Mr. V and his team of corrupt officers by allying with the gangs to clean up St. Jude Springs once and for all.
With it comes to supporting roles in action films as of late, Cung Le has struck on both sides of the equator. In Hollywood, he appeared in FIGHTING (2008) and TEKKEN (2009), while he appeared in Hong Kong films such as BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS (2009) and TRUE LEGEND (2010). Having scored the lead role in 2007′s BLIZNIY BOY, the film has yet to see the light of day, hence we have this film.
Le does quite well in the lead role of Hong, whose character resembles that of a wandering samurai in a new town, or even, if you will, Michael Jai White’s character in BLOOD AND BONE (2009). Hong only serves one purpose in the film and that is to clean up the streets of the city he is in, using his martial arts skills to do exactly that.
Fans will wonder what the deal is with Jean-Claude Van Damme being in the film. Well, Van Damme takes the role of mentor Tiano to Hong in this film. Seen only in flashbacks throughout the film, Tiano teaches Hong how to fight and defend himself, but there seems to something of greater importance and it is revealed in these flashbacks, including why Tiano is in prison to begin with. Speaking of Van Damme, look for his son Kristopher in the film as corrupt police officer Feldman (in a role similar to his father’s action film ASSASSINATION GAMES).
While the gang leaders in the film have some significance, they ultimately end up playing second fiddle not only to Hong, but to main villain Mr. V, played with pure campiness by the former ROBOCOP, Peter Weller. He not only controls the gangs, but also the police. In other words, don’t expect any good cops like in these types of films, but in this world, there are none. It is as if Hong is the only saving grace for the entire city.
The fight scenes are not too bad, despite some flaws in the camerawork. KFC favorite Larnell Stovall (UNDISPUTED III, NEVER BACK DOWN 2) served as the stunt coordinator while Le and his team worked on the actual fight scenes. The fights highlight Le’s impressive martial arts skills with his trademark jump spinning back kick used quite a bunch and his grappling techniques. As for Van Damme, he shows more of his trademark martial arts here than he has in his last few films. The finale shows Le in full action, but sadly the final confrontation tends to be a bit of a letdown despite showing a Mexican-style standoff.
Despite its flaws, DRAGON EYES is worth at least a rental. Cung Le does well in a lead role and Van Damme himself is suited to play a mentor role and works well here. The action is not too bad, but don’t expect a spectacular finale.