Take a Japanese Manga with a storyline that spanned years, throw in a big budget, a bunch of J-Pop stars and models, remove any element of a plot, but it all in a blender, then bake the results at 450 for two hours and you get Devilman, a mess of Biblical proportions. What’s left of the plot involves demons invading the world and taking over people’s bodies, as a kid named Akira becomes the Devilman, who is a demon with a human heart, who must fight them to save all of humanity. This movie is just plain awful. I am in no way a fan of the Manga (by Go Nagai, creator of Cutie Honey, a Manga film done right) nor had even heard of it until I watched this, but the film is reported to ignore huge chunks of it to try to contain a long, sweeping story into two hours of running time. Just imagine the entire first season of 24 in just two hours, where they keep odd sideplots but ignore big things like introducing Senator Palmer, and Jack Bauer is now played by Justin Timberlake. People would riot in the streets. Devilman is on the same par, there are probably still people looting sections of Tokyo in response to seeing this travesty.
After some confusing shots of two little kids (one of who has grey hair) we jump to present day, where said kids are now teenagers. Akira is the dark haired scrawny dork played by Hisato Izaki, a member of the J-Pop group Flame. His friend is the long blonde haired Ryo, played by Hisato’s twin brother, Yusuke Izaki, also a member of Flame. Blonde haired Ryo is supposed to be the grey-haired kid, so the audience wonders if the hair is supposed to be blonde or grey. Akira’s parents are dead, and he is being raised by the Makimura family, who may or may not be related to him. The Makimura family has a daughter named Miki who is the same age as Akira, so you know they are destined to be love interests. Akira is harassed at school by one of those ineffectual Schoolboy gangs that pop up in Asian Cinema all the time, until a former bully tells them that harassing Akira makes Ryo angry, and Ryo chops off people’s fingers. The kid holds up his own hand, where you can see scars where the fingers were severed and reattached. This kid is named Ushiku, though they won’t bother to tell you that for a while. Miki also stumbles across the last of the main characters, a girl named Miko who is being harassed by a schoolgirl gang, and Miki tells her to fight back. A touching lesson, one we can all learn from.
Ryo shows up at school after been missing a week, and pulls Akira out. They hop into his car as Ryo tells Akira Ryo’s Dad is dead. He gives Akira a VR helmet with an emergency message from his father, who explains that while drilling for energy sources in Antarctica, they stumbles across an energy source they thought could fuse Nitrogen, which would produce energy 8 million times that of oil. I’m no physicist, but this is crap. Anyway, the energy source turned out to be a bunch of demons who possessed all the lab workers, the demons themselves looking like large, floating, transparent sperm cells. Since Antarctica is only a few minutes south of Nikko, they get there quickly and head to the lab. (I didn’t write this movie, don’t yell at me!) Ryo shows Akira a demon-infested guy, and tells Akira he is infested himself. The demon-infested guy is screaming in a room full of his own entrails. A transparent demon sperm cell flies out and fertilizes Akira, and he instantly transforms into a character from a Playstation 2 game— I mean he becomes the Devilman! Another Playstation charact–I mean demon walks up, and they fight a round of Tekken. Devilman uses up, up, right, high punch, and defeats the random demon guy. Akira then turns not back to fully human form, but some sort of goth-Halloween hybrid. I question the director’s decision to show either of the Izaki brothers without their shirts, as they have all the muscle development of a three year old. Ryo has turned into some sort of angel-looking guy wearing only floating feathers for clothes. He informs Akira that Akira is Devilman, because he still has a human heart. With a last shot by Ryo of “Happy Birthday, Devilman!” Akira awakens back to normal on the floor of his room.
Miki has a bit of a problem of her own that she’s unaware of, her neighbor spends all his time video taping her through her window. Her neighbor also dresses like he’s Flavor Flav, sans clock, and usually has a creepy-goofy smile smeared across his face like jelly on a sandwich. Back at school (it’s suddenly daytime again) Ryo is being threatened by the ineffectual gang, and he just walks away, so they go after Akira. Akira uses his new Devilman powers to go Matrix-style on them. Ryo is back to normal from angel form, I guess. Ushiku tells Akira he dreams of Ryo every night (Ewwwwwwwww!) and that Ryo says he’s the Devil in his dreams (Okay, then,) and Ushiku can’t draw anything but pictures of Ryo all the time (My “Ewwwwwwwww!” stands!)
Back at his house, Akira has one of those all too common occurrences where a flying chick with wings on her head and a skimpy yellow outfit shows up to tell him she’s in love with his demon half. We’ve all been there, and this one is named Silene, played by supermodel Ai Tominaga, who can’t act as well, but as her part requires little acting she comes out looking much better than the Izaki brothers. Devilman’s proper name is Amon, but Akira just turns into Devilman to kill Silene, who also turns into more of a Mortal Kombat version of herself…her outfit is even more skimpy and she gains antenna. They fly around a Playstation 1 rendered city and fight each other a bit, which the action cuts so quickly or the camera zooms around so much we can’t really tell what is going on. Since both people are all CGI, they shouldn’t have to resort to fast cuts to make them look like they are fighting, as they aren’t movie stars with no martial arts training, they are just a bunch of 0’s and 1’s in a machine. This might have made a good cinematic cutsceen in a game, but instead it just looks terrible in a real movie. Silene wins, then flies away never to be seen again, even though research has told me she is a major player in the manga.
Devilman has a huge claw wound from the fight, and soon blacks out but reawakens in a foggy area healed with Ryo standing over him. Ryo explains that demons are weak and need to possess human DNA, and Silene loves Amon. Later, we see that Japan gets all it’s news not from local television, but giant, V-shaped video screens set up in large public shopping areas where a giant black guy reads the news in English (former NFL player Bob Sapp.) At the shopping center a weird guy eats a turtle while freaking out kids, then turns into a monster named Jinmen to eat some people, including Ushiku. Akira hears Ushiku screaming for help, but it’s in his mind and for some reason Akira goes to the beach to look underwater for Ushiku. Finally, he stumbles across Ushiku in the forest. Well, the face of Ushiku, which is displayed in the shell of the demon that ate him. Ushiku says some sappy stuff, then Akira/Devilman punches Jinmen, killing him, but before he dies, Jinmen says he wasn’t evil, just hungry, and that Devilman should go after Satan, since he wants to destroy the world.
Can you guess who Satan is? I’m sure you can. Akira sure can’t, because he sucks, like the movie. Meanwhile on V-Shaped Giant Black Guy News, reports of demon incidents are happening all over the world. Miko finally shows back up in the movie, when she returns to school and her classmates instantly call her a demon and rip off part of her clothes, exposing demon parts, which fire a green laser that destroys a giant globe as girls scream. Yep, it’s just as confusing as I wrote it. V-Shaped Giant Black Guy News shows a report from LA where a demon-possessed hick with a cowboy hat shoots at cops, and the cameraman (okay, that part was pretty good.) It’s nice to know that Japan still sees America full of hicks with cowboy hats and guns. Miko finds a kid on a swing who is afraid of his mom, as she is acting weird. Mom comes, still weird, and takes the kid, who then sees his dad acting weird also. The parents close in and we hear the kid scream. He’s not really dead, Miko saves him, his name is Susumu. Like the lyrics “Su-su-sudio” except “Su-su-susumu.”
US is planning to fight demons and they and Japan set up Demon Task Forces. Two demons attack a restaurant when Ryo and Akira drive up, Ryo tells Akira not to save the people, but Akira argues, meanwhile people are getting killed. Finally, Akira becomes Devilman and attacks, saving like four people out of 30 or so, including a Japanese teen wearing Hamburglar pants for some reason. Devilman makes his fist big and red and uses that to punch people. A new law gets passed allowing you to shoot demons if they don’t come peacefully, even people just suspected of being a demon.
With that, the movie takes a complete 180. Instead of mindless garbage, it’s now mindless garbage with a moralistic message about abusing laws. Red scare, PATRIOT Act, all that fun stuff becomes front and center now as the movie shows people turning in innocent people just because. Miko and Susumu get arrested as well, though they don’t say why and they weren’t doing anything suspicious. The police locate a demon hideout and go in with guns blazing, killing demons who gather up into bunches and walk slowly towards the machine guns to make themselves better targets. How cooperative! Akira and Ryo watch this, then Ryo goes to kill all the humans, but Akira won’t join him. A bug-winged demon reveals that Ryo is Satan, which is a shock only for Akira, and not the audience. Ryo uses his machine gun to kill dozens of cops who just stand still in lines and slowly draw their weapon so Ryo has plenty of time to aim and fire first. Japan is such a polite society! A fat demon with an afro and a tux comes out to yell “All power to Demons!” and then get gunned down in a hail of bullets. Great strategy, Napoleon! Or should I say Na-Roly-polyon! People start turning on each other, attacking people at random and raping women. Wait, what does raping women have to do with fighting demons? People are stupid, it’s nice to see Japan has trailer trash running around in wife-beater shirts as well. Wars begin between some countries. Miki’s dad discovers that Akira is a demon, but doesn’t care. Akira and Miki’s dad stumble across cops just shooting civilians at random, one of which is Ryo. Akria says “Ryo! You’re alive!” to which Ryo responds the classic line: “Well, yes, I am Satan!”
Japan is attacked by rockets after being declared a demon nation, according to V-Shaped Giant Black Guy News. Miko and Susumu escape, and head to Miki’s house, then the movie draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaags on a bit, because it’s already too long and cramming too much plot in, let’s just take ten minutes to have a dinner scene! The neighbors yell at Miki’s family, and then her spy turns them in to the cops, in a bid to get rid of Akira. The cops swarm in as Miko and Susumu are spirited out the back, and Akira has to admit he’s a demon to save the rest of Miki’s family. Akira is tied up, riddled with machine gun fire, then dumped into a mass grave. A mob converges on Miki’s family’s house to kill everyone because they’re all demons, and they do. Go mob rule!
Miko and Susumu are also being chased by cops, but they manage to not be shot as the cops don’t bother to use their machine guns. The pair are trapped on a roof, but Miki grabs Susumu and jumps off, growing big glowing butterfly wings to float down. She then picks up a conveniently placed samurai sword that was lying in the alley, flies back up, and carves her way through the cops. It’s GLOBAL WAR! V-Shaped Giant Black Guy News ends its broadcast day by having Giant Black Guy grow two more heads and declare demon victory! It’s not over yet, we still have thirty minutes to go. Devilman wakes his sorry superhero butt up and heads back home, just to find the family dead and Miki’s head stuck on a sword. Is Japan swimming in samurai swords? Akira pulls his hood over his head, channeling Donnie Darko for a bit and wanders around carrying Miki’s head, eventually taking it to church. I was worried for a second this would be like Wilson from Castaway but he doesn’t talk to it. Ryo/Satan shows up to yell at him a bit. Satan explains that his invasion plan wouldn’t have worked because there was only a small amount of demons, and then the unexpected happened, which was people turning on each other. Now, that is just stupid planning right there. Let’s invade with only a small amount of people! Yeah! And have no strategy for the attacks! And we’ll get a fat guy to waddle out, scream something, and get shot! Brilliant! Lucky for the demons humans are so damn stupid. This is not the level of planning to be expected from the Prince of Darkness. More like the Janitor of Darkness.
It’s Satan vs. Devilman in a final battle! Graphics by Xbox. They bust through the floor of the church, which must have been build over a giant, pillar raised cave graveyard. Yep. It’s underground in a cave, there are stone pillars of ancient Roman design, and te ground is covered in crosses that look like tombstones. Satan has a cheat code activated that prevends Devilman from touching him, and the resulting fight causes a giant blue explosion to engulf the Earth (wait, did this movie just become Dead or Alive? Get Miike’s lawyer on the phone!) the explosion transforms the Earth into Hell. Complete with screaming, tortured souls and armies of demons. Devilman doesn’t give up, and turns into a giant glowing blue monster. Satan also becomes bigger and glowing, and they close ranks, Devilman being ripped in half as Satan is punched through the chest.
Devilman then rips off Gandalf falling from the LOTR movies and crashes on a rocky shore, Satan lands next to him. We jump to more kid flashbacks, then some sappiness as Akira dies, being only the top half of a body. Satan acts like he’ll be dead soon as well, but they don’t bother to tell us. Miko and Susumu manage to survive the Earth being destroyed, and they decide to live because they promised Miki. We pull back to shots of the ruined planet as happy-sappy J-Pop music plays. Not the type of music that should accompany such a devastating shot, but the type of music you’d expect to hear in Hell. Oh, yeah, the moon looks like it was ripped in half and glued back together. No explanation.
What in the blue blazes of Hell where they thinking when pumping out this pure-grade toxic waste of a film? Was Japan jealous of all the terrible movies coming out of Hollywood that they though they had to compete? The special effects are nothing special, they’d be embarrassing for a video game, and the editor couldn’t splice together a decent action sequence if he was forced to copy a Yuen Woo-ping film frame by frame. The director of this monstrosity was Hiroyuki Nasu, who died of cancer shortly after finishing the film. Yes, the film is so bad it killed it’s creator. The Izaki twins need to hit the gym and stop hitting the hair salon. When you are out-acted by models, you should start taking acting classes. Bob Sapp is another embarrassment. The only good thing I can find to say about this movie is I won’t have to watch it again, ever. So nyeh nyeh nyeh, movie! Whatever doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger, and this movie is the illegal growth hormones I need to endure trainwrecks of spectacular proportion can be covered on this site with ease, and it’s without the ball-shrinking or “roid rage” side effects. Devilman is from Hell, but this movie can go there.
Rated 2/10 (Devil Keychain, Grey Haired Lad)