This film from Japan`s Daiei studios is a film I had long heard of but never taken the time to seek out. Years ago I know there were VHS copies of it at a local store that specialized in features from around the globe but I was focused on the Godzilla series on their shelves and the films of Kurosawa so I never got around to these. Sadly like many other video stores it closed it’s doors a few years back.
Now thanks to budget label Mill Creek Entertainment I caught up to this hybrid Samurai – Giant on the loose flick. On blu ray no less in widescreen with subtitles as opposed to dubbing. It`s a trilogy three pack and if the two sequels are nearly as impressive as I found the first entry than this turned into a solid purchase for the video library.
The plot line involves a tale from the era of the samurai and feuding clans vying for control of the peasants and the lands within. The film begins with a hint of what is to come with the villagers praying in the square to keep the Majin dormant. Using the cover of this a coup is enacted resulting in the death of the current Lord and his small children being smuggled into the mountains by a loyal soldier.
Ten years will pass by and our two youngsters will grow to adulthood and prepare to reclaim the lands and titles they are entitled to. In the interim the peasants have been turned to slavery and the current regime uses force and cruelty to keep them in line.
It`s about the one hour mark when the film takes a turn towards the world of mystique and magic.
I really don`t want to spoil anything here plot wise so I`ll move onto to other impressions that the film left me with.
First off I expected a very Godzilla like film and found nothing of the sort. I don`t want to sound sacrilegious towards the Godzilla series as I am a huge fan of the Toho films but this effort was far and away much better in the special effects department when the time came for the giant vengeful stone figure to take his wrath upon the lands. The violence had a much more serious tone to it as well than the Godzilla series had at this time.
I enjoyed the fact that it was a period piece as well which may have helped the overall tone to the flick. Kind of like I prefer my vampires in the Gothic age overall. It`s also done in color and the sets of the village are impressive with very little in the way of miniatures mixed in for the rampaging climax. The use of real landscapes and a beautiful waterfall where our giant statue awaits his calling only adds to the scope of the film.
Full marks to the films director Kimiyoshi Yasuda, it`s cinematographer Fujio Morita and the effects by Yoshiyuli Kuroda.
If one was to sit down and watch this film from the start with no prior knowledge of where it was headed they`d have to think it`s a straight forward samurai flick in the true Toshiro Mifune style. A coup is enacted and it`ll be a matter of time before a peasant uprising occurs to restore the child grown now to a man to his rightful place on the throne.
It`s that and more. Seek this one out and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did.
Reminds me that I`m never to old to discover a new (old) film for myself for the first time.