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Review of the Movie Dragon Day

Updated on January 8, 2018
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

Overview of Dragon Day

“Dragon Day” starts with a cyber-invasion of the US, shutting down the financial system and communications. When the movie first came out, this seemed pretty unlikely. The 2015 OPM database breach was the equivalent to a "Pearl Harbor" in cyber-warfare, and doing so makes "Dragon Day"'s underlying premise now plausible. Before then, it could be written off as New World Order fear-mongering; reality has caught up with fantasy, making this movie surprisingly prescient.

After the cyber-invasion comes a swift roll-out of controls on the population and ruthless enforcement, while the man who found the vulnerability and wrote about the risk tries to save his family.

I read and write science fiction and horror, which leads to the periodic survivalist book or survival movie like "Dragon Day".
I read and write science fiction and horror, which leads to the periodic survivalist book or survival movie like "Dragon Day". | Source

The Tropes in the Movie Dragon Day

This movie is so heavy with tropes that I almost gave it one star. A few of these well-worn tropes are:

  • Older sheriff is siding with the new powers that be, killing people who don't put on the "citizen freedom bands" along with looters, younger guy doesn't like it but goes along because he has to
  • Get a gun from the dead prepper neighbor, have to try to protect the family with it within seconds
  • High tension situation, ramp it up by having the kid in direct danger
  • Static at the most inopportune time in a transmission
  • While we are coming for you, we won't take your family. You only have a minute to come with us, but you get a long teary monologue goodbye with your wife.
  • There's a security hole - fix it in 30 seconds of typing on a computer! Why? Because we'll kill your family if we don't! I don't know what is worse, that they expect something like that to be fixed in less than a minute with the guru or that they'd believe it was fixed that fast.
  • We’re running out of water, but never mind, have to have the tired and worn family bury the dead relative and give it a minor memorial and even a cross at the head, though we’re dying for lack of water.
  • Good old Grandpa’s old fashioned stuff helps save the day.
  • The stuff Grandpa stocked up on, bless his soul, is what saves his family (for a little while).

In this movie, old-fashioned ham radio almost saves the day.
In this movie, old-fashioned ham radio almost saves the day. | Source

Highlights of the Movie Dragon Day

The movie’s only redeeming virtue - a mildly different ending and character's solution to the problem, which was surprising given how trope heavy the movie was to that point. It is a twist ending that is not a complete surprise but remains with both the intended message of the movie and character development of the plot to that point.

Is Dragon Day a Rip-Off of Red Dawn?

The movie “Dragon Day” is far inferior to original version of “Red Dawn”, a classic survivalist and home-grown revolution movie, whose plot and character development keeps people interested and engaged while demonstrating the importance of having food, water and supplies on hand. I give the original “Red Dawn” movie five stars, while “Dragon Day” gets two.

“Dragon Day” is tied with the 2012 remake of “Red Dawn” on quality of acting. The remake of “Red Dawn” required too much suspension of belief with us invaded by North Korea, because the studio had to change it from the Chinese due to political pressure. “Dragon Day”, being independently made, doesn’t suffer from that flaw – it keeps the Chinese digital and later actual assault that would make it more realistic.

“Dragon Day” also focuses on a smaller cast of characters without throwing in the liberated young female warrior-to-be and diversity in an effort to make it more appealing to a broader audience. Since “Dragon Day” focuses on a small family and a few neighbors, it is faster both in running time and plot because you don’t have to develop all of the dozen characters on the good side or give them something to do to justify inclusion on the movie poster.

In that regard, “Dragon Day” is one star better than the one star rating I give the 2012 “Red Dawn” movie remake. “Tomorrow, When the War Began” is better than both of these, with three stars in my book, though the movie and book it is based on aren’t familiar to most outside Australia.


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