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Directed and written by Yugo Sakamoto.
Starring Yuni Akino, Itsuki Fujii, Wataru Ichinose, Masayuki Inô, Rikiya Kaidô, Takuya Matsumoto,
Atom Mizuishi, Mayu Suzuki, Zingi Umemoto, Yû Yasuda

A group of kids go on a camping trip, but when they get a flat tire, they wander into a secluded village filled with eccentric residents. The villagers welcome the travelers to spend the night and prepare a large meal for them, but when they wake up, they find one of their own missing and the friendly villagers are not what they seem.

Going in, I thought YELLOW DRAGON’S VILLAGE was going to be a sort of Texas Chainsaw cannibal family style flick. All signs pointed that way and to have the setting moved to Japan, I thought maybe this would be an interesting take on that style of film. But while there are certainly elements of TCM in YELLOW DRAGON’S VILLAGE, it really isn’t that kind of movie.

While the danger is real, the tone is much more boppy and flippant than your typical horror movie. There are dire consequences, and the film does an alright job of letting you get to know these kids before they arrive at the village. At the same time, the pacing is very rushed and this kneecaps any kind of suspense that could have worked in the film’s favor. There is a lot of movie here squished into about an hour and some change runtime, and the truncated scenes seem like a detriment to the movie as a whole. For such a large cast, it feels that I didn’t really get to know these kids, though much chatter between them is said. When they arrive at the village, the group simply fall in line and go with it rather than questioning their hosts intentions. I also feel the lead-up to the horror could have been projected more and the meal, which seems to be integral in the tradition of the village, should have been more detailed. All in all, I think this film could have gotten down and dirty, but it never went there, keeping the entire tone fluffy with only a whiff of terror in the air.

At the halfway point there is a shift in tone, making things all the more bubblegum. While there is blood shed, it is gone with CGI and soon it becomes a kung fu movie where the remaining kids have to fight to survive against the entire village. While I love me some kung fu and at times have toyed with the notion to cover and review those styles of films as a side project, it is a vast arena of cinema and I simply don’t have the time, energy, or expertise to do so. Still, when horror and kung fu meet, it can be a wonderful treasure. Unfortunately, the kung fu on display in YELLOW DRAGON’S VILLAGE feels sloppy and not well rehearsed. Like the suspense, the martial arts just isn’t crisp in the movement by the actors or the editing of said moves by the camera.

YELLOW DRAGON’S VILLAGE ends with a meal and a laugh and that’s probably how you should react to this kind of movie. There’s nothing particularly bad about it. The acting is decent. The story is unpredictable. The dialog is fine. It just feels that all of the elements that should have been the highlight of YELLOW DRAGON’S VILLAGE felt rushed and half-assed. Sure, it seems like fun was had in making this one, but I feel it should have gone a few steps further into the abyss in order to be something truly special. As is, YELLOW DRAGON’S VILLAGE is an OK time waster that leaves very little taste to savor after digesting.

Check out the trailer here!!