The Magic Serpent (Review)
The Magic Serpent
|Hiroki Matsukata as Ikazuki Maru|
|Tomoko Ogawa as Sunate|
|Ryutaro Otomo as Oroki Maru|
|Bin Amatsu as Yuki Daijo|
This Movie seems like it would have it all. Ninjas, Giant monsters, sword fighting. Yet somehow it manages only be average. It has a plot similar to Dune, or 5000 other movies where sons of murdered kings return for revenge. So let’s get Started…
NINJA ATTACK! The movie opens strong as a horde of ninjas attack a castle. The master awakens, but is betrayed by his subject Yuki Daijo and the evil wizard Oroki Maru. Master is killed, but his son Ikazuki Maru is shuttled off on a boat. But Oroki Maru turns into a dragon and gives chase. The Dragon has a very familiar roar, suspiciously like another giant lizard known to attack Tokyo and breathe fire. But let’s not dwell on that and get back to the chase. The Dragon destroys the boat and is about to kill the boy when a bird comes out of nowhere and slices the Dragon, with blood spraying EVERYWHERE! It is quite magnificent. The bird grabs little Ikazuki Maru and flies off. The bird also sounds suspiciously like another flying monster that attacks Tokyo on some regularity, but it is best not to dwell on that, either.
It is now years later (a lot of time passes while the opening credits play) and a young man is walking outside, when suddenly he is attacked by a flying old man, but the young man catches him. The old man is his master, who tells the young man he is now ready to leave to the outside world. The young man is Ikazuki Maru. Master talks about another student who left and did bad things (who could that be…) meanwhile they are being spied on by a ninja. Master returns home and Ikazuki walks on, but is attacked by some ninjas. One of the ninjas has a boomerang sword, that slices off Ikazuki’s head and then returns to him. But, Lo and Behold, Ikazuki is not dead, and his de-bodied head laughs at the Aussie Ninja. He ties up the Ninja and demands answers, but the Ninja bites his tongue off and dies. Then a girl attacks Ikazuki, but she is only worried that he would kill her like the other ninjas. Her name is Sunate and she is looking for her father. Ikazuki offers to help her out, and takes her to see his Master.
But all is not well at Master’s place. His old apprentice has shown up, and as we have already figured out, it was Oroki Maru. Oroki Maru stole a secret scroll when he left, but has returned it. Returned it….as a TRAP! Master is poisoned by an Asp, and then Oroki Maru kills him. But Master lives long enough for Ikazuki Maru to return home, and Master gives him a scroll of Ninja invisibility, and tells him of his true birthright and murdered father. Then Master finally dies for real.
Sunate runs into her grandmother who tells her that her father is not a good man, but Sunate must go on, so Grandmother gives her a hairpin with a magic spider on it that will come to live, but can only be used once. She and Ikazuki Maru have separated on their different quests. Oroki Maru and Yuki Daijo decide to wait for Ikazuki Maru to come for them, but also send out some goons to kill him. Meanwhile Ikazuki Maru saves a small boy from being crushed by a wagon, but is harassed by guards because they don’t know him. The father of the boy claims that Ikazuki is married to his daughter Osaki, the guards buy it and leave, and Ikazuki journeys on. A short time later, Yuki Daijo rides into town, and harasses the family that helped Ikazuki, and kills the father. Suddenly the ghost of Ikazuki’s father appears, and binds Yuki Daijo and his goons with a gold energy ring. This is all Ikazuki’s doing, the ghost was an illusion. But Oroki Maru beams in via Star Trek technology and he and Ikazuki fight, Wuxia style. Oroki Maru uses Osaki as a hostage while Ikazuki escapes with the son.
Soon the whole kingdom is a buzz with rumors of Ikazuki and his quest to return his family to power and avenge his father. But the rumors are being spread by goons of Oroki Maru, who plans to kill Yuki Daijo and assume power, while pretending to be Ikazuki. (People will just ingnore the fact he’s 30-40 years too old to be Ikazuki, I guess.) Sunate makes another appearance here, and one of the goons who is a guard named Momobe helps her on her quest. Ikazuki is around trying to rescue Osaki, but is attacked by Water Ninjas. The boy is endangered during this, but is saved by Momobe, and Ikazuki kills the Water Ninjas.
Sunate is later kidnapped by Oroki Maru for use as bait. It is then revealed that Oroki Maru is her father, and he immediately orders her to betray Ikazuki Maru and kill him. But she can’t, and Momobe does neither, and they try to set up a trap for Oroki Maru, but he isn’t fooled, and kills Momobe. And back at the castle, Yuki Daijo is hosting a party, but it is interrupted by a giant frog with a large horn (a Horny Toad?). This is actually Ikazuki Maru, who then switches back to human mode and swords Yuki Daijo to death. Now Ikazuki Maru and Oroki Maru must fight, daikaiju style. Oroki Maru become the Giant Dragon, and Ikazuki Maru the Giant Horned Frog. The Frog is breathing fire, to the Dragon’s water. Ikazuki Maru is getting whipped soundly, but Sunate uses her spider hairpin and activates a Giant Spider which leaps into battle, held by strings from an off camera crewman. Luckily the crewmen operating the Dragon’s strings and the Spider’s strings don’t get them entangled during the epic battle of swinging the monsters at each other. The Spider shoots silly string, encasing the Dragon, and then Ikazuki finishes him off with a Fire Breath Blast. But he isn’t dead, and Ikazuki and Oroki are now both human, and have a samurai duel, which Oroki Maru does not live to see the end of.
Ikazuki has now avenged his father and regained the thrown, which he immediately gives to Osaki and her brother. Then Master’s Giant Bird returns to return Ikazuki to Master’s grave, and Sanute to her grandmother. And it’s The End, Hooray for everyone.
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