Karate Robo Zaborgar (2011)
Directed by Noboru Iguchi
[part of the NYAFF 2011, NEW YORK PREMIERE]
See? The Japanese are just like Hollywood. Sometimes you run out of ideas and have to remake old TV shows. You didn't think America was the only country to take a cheesy 70s television show and remake it for the big screen did you?
Karate Robo Zaborgar from the outtakes at then end of the film seemed like a 60s Batman meets robot anime kind of TV show. Who else but Noboru Iguchi
would remake this into a full fledged movie. Iguchi who has given us RoboGeisha and The Machine Girl (whose trailer went viral in America) is not new to the half robot half human dynamic. It's a Japanese WTF film pure and simple. You either love em or hate em.
I absolutely enjoyed the shit out of The Machine Girl but somehow KRZ is a little too wacky and cheesy in my book. That's not to say it doesn't have it's moments. Full of flying robots, human/borg hybrids, 90 foot tall Japanese teenage girl cyborg and bulldog tanks, I was fully awe inspired by the idiot-tacracy of it all. But I thought back to recent Japanese WTF films which I thought blew my mind. Big Man Japan is an absolute classic awesome WTF film that is coherent at it is crazy.
KRZ is also way to long running at 140 minutes! What you are essentially watching is 2 hour long episodes of a remade TV show. KRZ is 50% wacky and 25% absurd and 25% WTF. You have to make sure you brain is shut off to enjoy the film and when you do, it somehow gives you laughs you are shocked that you enjoy.
Daimon (Yasuhisa Furuhara) and his motorcycle/robot pal/karate expert, Zaborgar, protect the citizens of Japan from flying cyborg heads and samurai kissing monsters. But when Daimon falls in love with the villainous Miss Borg (Mami Yamasaki), the two buds have a falling out that could ruin everything. Any further summary would read like the scribblings of the world’s coolest, most cracked-out 13 year old: the plot is a 50 car pile-up of smackdowns, wild comedy and robot rugby girls with chest dragons. Iguchi, finally armed with a real budget, packs the screen with gonzo spectacle and delivers the kind of movie that leaves your ribs bruised from giggling and your face aching from grinning too much.
It’s not all wine and robots, though: when the film jumps ahead 25 years to show what happens when a hero is forgotten, Iguchi’s not kidding around. Like all of the wildest dreamers, he wants you to believe as much as he does. As Daimon himself, now a slouching schlub with an aching back (Itsuji Itao), proclaims, “Though diabetic…though over the hill…if one keeps trying, one can fight until the last moment.” That’s the spirit, and it’s the message of Iguchi’s joyously retro rock-out.
Awesome Review-O-MaticYou read the plot above? Go ahead I'll wait. Done? OK good.
Basically set as a 2 part episode, KRZ follows young Daimon and his adventures with his motorcycle transforming Zaborgar as they battle the evil Sigma who wants to basically destroy Japan. Dr. Akunomiya is the evil mastermind behind Sigma and he has a beautiful Miss Borg as his #1. As we see Daimon and ZABORGAR!!!! (who he can order to change into a motorcycle and fight in various martial arts styles) battle the evil henchmen, he also has to decide which is the greater evil. Sigma who murdered his father or the Japanese bureaucracy who are evil and greedy as well.
From bulldog tanks, football robot vixens to diarrhea robots, Daimon and Zaborgar battle with quirky karate and flying boomerang blades. I mean the fembots have monster demon heads coming out of their boobs and butt. You kind of know what the deal is when it comes to the Japanese. They love over the top cheesiness. It makes Troma look like a Michael Bay film.
The movie jumps 25 years later and the world is again threatened by Sigma. But now he's battling his son and his daughter, a unforeseen union by Miss Borg and himself. More wackiness ensues climaxed by Akiko his daughter being transformed into a skyscraper tall half robot half human killing machine.
The movie follows what seems to be the plot of the TV children's show. In the outtakes at the end, we see the same scenes from the movie as they were first aired on the TV show. It's hilarious bad in terms of quality but this is from the same industry that had a man in a dinosaur suit smashing cardboard cutouts of a city.
I'll admit, I liked KRZ for it's inexplicable way it can show me something I've never seen before. I indeed laughed a few times at some crude jokes as well as some timely social pop culture humor. Also seeing a giant robot muy thai another robot makes me smile. We often watch something on YouTube that comes from Japan and we usually go "Oh those wacky Japanese!" Well this is a movie where Western audiences will overload in all that is completely wacky and fun about fighting robot motorcycle transformers.
Like I said, it's a little too long and there really is so much you can take when you have to watch 2+ hours of this. Karate Robo Zaborgar is Sushi Typhoon and Iguchi's wink to Western cult audiences. You watch the trailer and you say "I gotta see this crazy Japanese movie! It looks fuckin awesome!" And it's clearly as awesome as advertised. But then you also realize the jokes are corny and the humor a little tasteless. And it's really really over the top.
It starts to remind you of a certain American robot movie.
American and Japan aren't so different after all.
Some light arterial spraying
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
NYAFF 2011 film festival opens on 7/1. I've created a list of films to check out at this year's festival.
Head over to the official site for more info.
Check out the trailer.