Dragon City: Punk Rock in China: DVD

Jun 13, 2014

For whatever reason, the back cover gave me the mistaken impression that this was a documentary about the Chinese punk band No Name, with the camera dude following them around to show us decadent, unappreciative Westerners all the shit a punk band has to endure to tour—or, hell, to even exist in—China. Not so. It’s actually a work of fiction. To wit, four hardy, young lads, living the usual hardscrabble existence of the post-apocalypse ((and, since it’s post-apocalyptic China, we just assume that it’s even worse than, like, post-apocalyptic Canada or somewhere, which is probably true, because they have cannibals with luchador masks and meat cleavers who hunt people down in the street for food, whereas Canada would just have people arguing over donuts)) come across an expat American who is sorta like a cross between George Carlin and Stan Lee, and lives in what he claims is the last fully-functional nightclub on earth, Dragon City. Since one of the four has an acoustic guitar on which he occasionally plays baleful melodies, George/Stan talks him and the rest of the merry gang into playing music on his fully equipped stage ((I wonder what kinda monitor mix one gets after the apocalypse? I suppose not much different from what ya get today, come to think of it)). The guys immediately develop instant proficiency and launch into a few of their passable-if-Fat-Wreckish songs, which rouse the downtrodden spirits of the miscellaneous kindred lowlifes in the neighborhood. George/Stan takes ill and dies, and the band plays a few more songs, secure in the knowledge that their gift of music is the one spark of hope in an otherwise sparkless scenario. The movie is done in under forty minutes, which is, to be truthful, about the right running time for it. The rest of the DVD is filled out with music videos and live clips—earlier stuff like “Smash Everything” has a certain raw, Chaotic Discord-esque charm; later stuff like “My Attitude” just sounds like some lame Poison power ballad or something ((note to band: In English, the word “take” is not pronounced the same as George Takei’s last name. But I agree it’s much cooler your way!)). I’d say that, as far as the forty-minute movie serving the purpose of getting me interested enough in the band that I watched the rest of their videos, mission accomplished. As regards Asian punk movies, however, Wild Zero this ain’t. –Rev. Nørb (MVD Visual, mvdvisual.com)