Italian Karate-Robo Zaboragar

May 30, 2011

From how much I talk about Karate-Robo Zaborgar, you’d think I’d have really enjoyed that film. I’m not crazy about it, but I’ve probably blogged more about it than any other film yet.

From what I’ve seen, a lot of Italian genre films that are of the post-1980s variety like to be rip-offs. Rip-offs of Escape form New York and Mad Max, variations of Romero’s zombie films and so forth. After the 80s, they sort of fizzled out. But some people somewhere are still making them. I bring you the Italian rip-off of Karate-Robo Zaborgar.

I might want to reconsider the quality of Iguchi’s film now after watching this.


Karate-Robo Zaborgar Review

May 17, 2011

Noboru Iguchi is a funny guy. With his partner in crime Yoshihiro Nishimura, the duo have made films like Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police which push the levels of humorous perversion, nudity and gore to absurd levels. I’m not sure how they manage to make money off these films as I’ve always felt that their film trailers are more popular than the films themselves. Someone at Nikkatsu must have seen some hope for them, as Iguchi was hired to make this film which is his highest budgeted yet. Working with Nikkatsu has put limits on him, as it forced Iguchi to lower the levels of nudity and gore to a minimum. Has he gone soft? Sort of. This image should give you the idea of what playing it family friendly is for Iguchi.

Karate Robo-Zaborgar's Diarrhea Monster
He hasn’t gone that soft. The name does not represent the monster thankfully.

So yeah, less serious than the average Tokusatsu looking film, but that’s what I expected from these filmmakers. The original television series was not a terribly popular television series in the first place. It ran for one season and this television show hereshows an audience who are not familiar with it and just seem to laugh at it (which is totally understandable).

Popular or not, Iguchi seems to be a big enough fan to not deviate from the original series in too many ways. The film is about Daimon (Yasuhisa Furuhara) who uses his robot-motorcycle Zaborgar to battle Team Sigma led by Dr. Akunomiya (Akira Emoto) who is trying to develop a Jumbo Cyborg using the DNA from politicians around Japan. To accomplish his plan, Dr. Akunomiya’s cyborg assistant, Miss Borg (Mami Yamasaki) invades Japan with various robots and monsters to accomplish his goal. After several encounters, Miss Borg and Daimon begin to fall for each other which leads Daimon to question his own motives against Team Sigma.

Silly, but nothing too special, and it’s all littered with childish humor ranging from Zaborgar knowing Muay Thai to heads rocketing off shoulders and flying around to dragons shooting out of characters breasts and arses. The action scenes in the film are what I’ve come to expect from the Sushi Typhoon films, with lots of fake looking CG explosions and CG ricocheted bullet shots. I understand that the film is low budget, but a lack of pyrotechnics does make me less excited about the action as they distract my attention away from really getting into a fight scene. Outside a brief scene involving Zaborgar fighting the Bulldog truck, the action scenes spark little excitement.

Iguchi replaces the American football players found
in the original series with AV stars such as Asami.

My problem with this film is the same problem I have with most of Iguchi’s films. They start out alright with their goofy immature humor which at first makes me forgive a silly and fairly weak script, but towards the second half of the picture this kind of amusement begins to dry up. Despite having characters who talk on cellphones which make characters heads explode, we are also swamped with melodrama in the second half when we encounter Daimon’s family troubles. These characters are introduced far too quickly making it very hard to feel any sympathy for them at all. Not to mention that these plot elements feel really out of place in this kind of film. I’m not sure how audiences will react to Zaborgar as it lacks of the ultra-violence of his previous films and still has all the same problems that I bothered me in his other features. If you are fan of the goofy humor in the previous films then by all means explore this as it will be quite satisfying. If you demand more nudity and gore than there is still good news! Iguchi has announced a director’s cut involving more gore and even a sex scene between Miss Borg and Daimon. For me however, I hope that Iguchi and and Yoshihiro take a break from releasing two films a year to work on a script to match their crazy visual perversions. If they can accomplish this, then they might be able to make a film in the same league as Paul Verhoeven’s better works.


Ottawa Cinema – May

April 22, 2011

As summer approaches, we get closer to great period when the theaters are flooded with films of the junk-food variety and give far more crap for me to blog about. I’ll try not to overdose on it by talking about every single minute bit and detail about what’s happening in The Avengers film (see one post below). Instead, let’s focus on what’s coming up in the following month. Let’s start with Ottawa specific action films in May.

Karate-Robo Zaborgar!

I’ve blogged about this earlier and I’m a bit more familiar with the film now. What is potentially disappointing is that the film reportedly not as over the top as Noboru Iguchi’s other films like Machine Girl or Mutant Girls Squad. In other words, no more penis-schnozed monsters. On the otherhand, this film boasts Iguchi’s largest budget to date which has peaked my interest. I still think the 1970s television series looks more humorous in a Flash Gordon type of way. This is only playing one night at the Mayfair theater and it’s sadly only a digital video, but I’ll still trek out to see it.

Karate-Robo Zaborgar is part of the Sushi Typhoon studio who seem to be on good measure with the Mayfair as they’ve shown nearly all their films. For me, watching too many of them too close together makes it a blur of goofy gore and action that make them pretty hard to separate from one another. Sushi Typhoon films are best watched in spread apart individual bursts. That’s why I could potentially skip Hell Driver from Tokyo Gore Police director Yoshihiro Nishimura which is playing the week after. The film does boast a woman with a chainsaw sword though, so we’ll wait and see if I’m curious enough.

The next film coming is one I’ve been putting off watching through an on-demand feature to see if I can get to see it in a theater.

Even the poster is awe-inspiring

Kim Jee-Woon’s film have gained a cult following and it’s understandable why. They are tight, well acted and often gorgeous to look at it. We are thankfully greeted to a 35 mm print of this, opposed to the other films digital projection. Tonight at the Mayfair, another 35 of Kim’s A Tale of Two Sisters is playing which I’m afraid I can’t attend as I’m far out of town. This should be a big improvement over the double feature of The Good, The Bad and the Weird and Deathwish 3 a few months back as the first film was sadly just a DVD projected on the big screen. LAME. The Good, The Bad and the Weird is only disappointing in it’s lack of depth, but a blast through and through. For the curious, Deathwish 3 lived up to it’s reputation as a Cannon classic (if you are a fan of Cannon films that is!)

Outside action films there are a few more exciting films coming to Ottawa in May. The ByTowne cinema shows one of the greatest Hong Kong films ever with a 35 mm print of Chungking Express early in April which plays for three days. I’ll be there. No need for a review as it’s obviously awesome. Later in the month, two Westerns also are coming with The Magnificent Seven at the ByTowne while the Mayfair shows Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. The Magnificent Seven doesn’t reach the heights of it’s inspiration (Seven Samurai) but it does have incredible star power and a much parodied score. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid has Sam Peckinpah directing Bob Dylan which is a concept that kind of blows my mind. I wonder what they thought of each other?

This blog is running a bit long, so let’s summarize the films that you can hopefully catch anywhere in Ottawa with a quick chart and summary:

May Action Films

Hobo with a Shotgun is Canada’s stab at Grindhouse which could have mixed results, but I’d feel foolish to miss out on Canada’s attempt to cash-in on this trend. True Legend has not confirmed for any theater I can find in the Ottawa area, but I’m still hoping some theater will show it despite it’s checkered reputation. I’ve placed Kung Fu Panada 2 smack in the middle as I skipped the first one out and am unfamiliar with it’s plot or quality. But this one has Jackie Chan and Jean-Claude Van Damme in the same film so…should I rent the first one to be ready for this? Would someone who doesn’t really care about the same studio’s Shrek films give this a chance? You tell me as the length of the interest bar might only be stretched due to the film’s title. Lastly we have Thor and Priest. Thor is a film that I only realized is in 3D today so that probably shows how excited I actually am about it. Last and lead is Priest from the director of that movie where black-winged angels had guns or something. Be a good friend to cinema and don’t see Priest.