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Thursday, April 10, 2014


Back to the big list of movies to watch before the new Godzilla opens in May (list HERE).

Today's is Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon (aka Yamato Takeru; 1994).

My son, James, will go first:
Well, this is probably the first movie on our list to do with Mythology. This movie is about when a guy is (not) cursed but he has a claw that turns himself into a monster that shoots rays of green phasers, and there's a eight-headed dragon that was made into a human and a sword (and a lightsaber), when the sword and the dragon guy touches, they turn back into a dragon and the monster guy kills him.  It's like Power Rangers vs King Ghidorah times 2.666666. 
So, rating wise, i'll say 1.4 out of 5 Atomic Breaths of Awesomeness!!! 
My turn:
This movie is thick with Japanese mythology and it's based on some of the culture's oldest stories.  I can't help but feel they're being underserved by this film, but I'm not well versed enough about them to be certain. 
The hero is a prince who was believed cursed by his father, the emperor.  The emperor sends him off to fight barbarians, and he succeeds.  Father still doesn't like him.  So the prince goes and fights a sea monster and then finds out that an evil god is returning.  This is when Orochi shows up and the big fight finally happens. 
Honestly, I don't know what to say.  The characters may as well have been played by cardboard cutouts because that's about as deep as they were written.  Things lurch from scene to scene at either a breakneck pace or snail's crawl; the pacing is just horrible.  The human-on-human fight scenes are mostly laughable.  The structure of the plot reminds me of a video game where the player must journey from place to place and fight an increasingly difficult opponent at every turn. 
It's a strange pastiche.  Star Wars is on display here, fully evident with the lightsaber fight on the Moon (complete with sounds).  Power Rangers or Ultraman (or any number of other suit-based robot show) is evident in the form taken by our hero as he fights Orochi.  It's a clunky robot-armor suit with laser swords and light shields and such ... and then a robot bird comes down from heaven.  The prince occasionally gets an "angry face," a la Daimajin and shoots lasers from his eyes.  (I'm not sure where that originates but I feel like I've seen it before.)  The music vacillates between straight-cheeseball and complete knockoff.  Listen to the theme from the 1981 Harryhausen classic Clash of the Titans and then watch the movie.  You'll realize that the Titans theme is better and that Orochi "borrowed" liberally from it. 
What's good?  Well, the god of the barbarians is a lava monster.  He's pretty cool, but moments of the big fight with it are staggeringly lame.  There's a sea monster that looks like a cross between Biollante and Titanosaurus, but he's pretty forgettable.  Orochi looks mighty sweet as long as you focus on his heads.  His locomotion is laughable, to say the least. 
Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon ... hard to believe the director also did Destoroyah.  1 out of five atomic breath blasts.
Here's a collection of trailers and TV spots (and let me assure you that the Orochi seen at the beginning is not the same one from the film):

Up next, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.  The turtle gets real.

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