Big Man Japan (DVD)
Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Hitoshi Matsumoto, Riki Takeuchi, Ua, Ryunosuke Kamiki
Directed by Hitoshi Matsumoto
Distributed by Magnet Releasing
This is the story of a lonely man, slowly plodding through life with careful steps and a deep, soulful sigh. His home is modest…his belongings scattered about the floor his cat tiptoes across. Just another day in the seemingly uneventful world of so and so, and a camera crew is there to take it all in. As you might imagine, they hang on his every word.
Why would a film crew document the life of a man who appears to do a whole lot of nothing all day and is more than willing to discuss it in great detail? Truth be told, this man has a very special job. In the grand tradition of his ancestors and others who once took up the mantle of “protector”, so and so awaits the call to battle. They call him Big Man Japan and when giant monsters wreak havoc through the city, putting helpless citizens at risk, he will grow to the size of a small skyscraper and take them down.
Now the first thing you have to understand is this is not the glorious age of super men banding together to repel a fire breathing, monstrous foe. After a dramatic victory they would bask in the adoration of the public with a parade in their honor and days of celebration. Today, the public grows weary of the annoyance of less than fearsome creatures entering the city limits to knock over power lines and thus interrupting a quiet night of television and microwave diner. The hero who comes to their rescue is now the object of ridicule, suffering the poor ratings created by a public that no longer cares. Why cheer on a giant, out of shape public servant when movies offer better writing, more interesting characters and, to be blunt, superior special effects?
Big Man Japan flows a bit like mud through a funnel, completely on purpose. This is a boring man who seems to be forced to suffer through countless interview sessions to fill the time until he is called to grow and hopefully, put on a spectacular display of man on monster battle to wow an apathetic audience. He is well aware of his place in society. The camera crew struggles to engage him and make this sorry display at least tolerable…and here you sit. You have one thing on your side if you are reading this and have seen the trailer. You are in on the joke. Soon enough, so and so gets juiced up and becomes a titanic Asian Don King with tattoos, product endorsement and purple underwear. Awaiting this is really the only reason you need to sit down for the duration. If I didn’t have you at “giant Asian Don King”, then you have no business reading this site!
Now the monsters come and, though they unleash their own brand of destruction on the city, the manor of their attack and more plainly, their appearance, is laughable. This is Kaiju meets Big Daddy Roth meets Dilbert, and the result is entirely amazing in the most spectacular B-movie way possible. Troma wishes they made this movie. To add to this baffling ridiculousness, some of the monsters are intelligent enough to speak, but the conversation is not the most inspiring and often only acts as a precursor to Big Man’s inevitable moment of shame. We watch as speedy triumph gives way to dishonor and on the horizon, a foe that is good for ratings but bad for BM’s health.
Cinematically, though Big Man Japan is laid out like a documentary, the equipment used is top notch and we are spared the shakey cam effect. This is a giant monster movie with a comedic delivery on par with “Monty Python” and the production values of a sleek, major release film. In fact, the creators of this instant cult masterpiece have hammered home the mocking B-movie aesthetic to such a degree that any oddities seen in the CGI for Big Man specifically are completely forgivable. The rest of the cast of creatures are so over the top but at the same time beautifully rendered, that most people I’ve watched this with just sat their with their mouths flung open the entire time. This is a film that makes you call people immediately after it’s nonsensical finale and say YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS MOVIE ...and so I have.
Of course it’s to be expected that some people will get the joke and some will not. Even those who have trouble reading sub-titles while enjoying a film will have no difficulty keeping up with a film that blasts out of the gate at the speed of a wounded turtle in heat. This is to say, it is obvious the film is trying to achieve maximum velocity but it is running on a 9-volt battery. Again, this is part of the joke. If you’re a fan of thoroughly oddball films, this is for you. If you’re a fan of mocumentaries that diverge from the annoyance of thought provoking topics, this is for you. Most importantly, if you’re a fan of giant monster films and always wanted to see a creature with a comb over decimate a hapless city…this movie…is most certainly for you. I’m looking at you, Foy.
4 out of 5
2 out of 5
Discuss Big Man Japan in the Dread Central forums!