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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: DAIMAJIN (1966)

Next on the big list of movies to watch, Daimajin (1966).

I'll go first:
This is one of those films we'd heard about but never watched before the list.  I found the Blu-rays of the trilogy for super-cheap and bought it.  Just like that. 
From Daiei, the people who give us the flying turtle, we get a relatively surprising movie.  Why surprising?  (Well, again, it's relative to a flying turtle that's a friend to kids.)  It is restrained.  It is serious.  It feels adult. 
Set in feudal Japan (samurai times) ... I'm going to guess the 1800s, thanks to the presence of rifles ... there's a coup against a feudal lord and his two small children are taken into the woods where they are aided by a priestess.  The kids are then secreted in a mountain temple where only the priestesses had been allowed to go.  The mountain seems to have engulfed a large statue, of which only the head and shoulders are visible.   
Years later, the usurper has enslaved the population and the lord's children are grown.  They descend to try and help the people but are captured.  In their desperation, they pray that the "maijin," the statue being held by the mountain, be freed so that the tyranny will end.  Their prayers are answered. 
The first hour of the movie is all setup.  We see the grace of the lord, the scheming of his usurper, the brutality of the coup, the hardships of enslavement, the goodness of the displaced children ... It's all a well-presented foundation for the last part of the movie. 
In a final act of the evil lord's tyranny, his men go to the mountain and to the statue.  They place a metal spike on the head and drive it in ... causing blood to spill from the wound.  (\m/ Metal \m/)  A quake and storm comes and the men are destroyed.  Another prayer and Maijin awakens. 
He puts on his angry face: 
... and stomps toward the palace, tearing stuff up.  It looks great.  Well done on it all.  And finally, there's a moment so terribly badass, my son stood up and said, "Awww, yeah!"  (James: No I didn't!!!) 
He caught the usurper, pulled the spike from his head and drove it through the guy and into a post.   
I love Akira Kurosawa's films and this put me in that mindset with the added coolness of a dude in a suit tearing it up. 
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Godzilla composer Akira Ifukube did the music for this film.  While perfectly enjoyable, it wasn't nearly as memorable as the work he did for Toho's films.  The somewhat mournful "Daimajin prayer" theme works well, though. 
Daimajin.  Very good; very enjoyable.  4.5 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Now my son's turn:
Jumanji!  I mean Daimajin! I love this movie! The basics: an hour of boring stuff, then it gets cooler.  They try destroying the god's statue, but when they put a spike through the head, the statue starts bleeding, gets a face, makes a apocalypse rage quit, and he kills everything.  He has a sword, but he doesn't use it.  But he still is O.P. 
So  I give this one 10 trillion Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!!
Here's the trailer:

Up next, released just a few months later in 1966, Return of Daimajin.

(James: please use the sword,pretty please?!!!)

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