Deep Sea Monster Reigo
Thanks to the wonders of Chinese DVDs we get a copy of Deep Sea Monster Reigo, which information has been leaking about this film for five years! Much of the initial filming was done around 2004-2005, and since then it has been mostly effects work done in spare time by director/writer/effects man Shinpei Hayashiya, who is a major effects guy in Japanese cinema and enjoys working on giant monster films so much he has been making his own for that past few years. He has been known to have made Gamera 4: Truth (Gamera 4: Shinjitsu) which features a white Gyaos; and also the Godzilla fan film Godzilla x Desugirasu (which is probably Godzilla VS Seadora.) So this guy lives for this stuff. In fact, we are already getting a sequel, Deep Sea Monster Raiga!
Over the years, the project has gone through several names, including A-140F6: Shinkaijû Reigô sakusen (A-140F6: Operation Deep Sea Monster Reigo), Reigô tai Yamato (Reigo, the Deep-Sea Monster vs. the Battleship Yamato) and finally Shinkaijû Reigô (Deep Sea Monster Reigo.) In 2004 Shinpei Hayashiya was negotiating two other cast members, former pro-wrestler turned politician Hiroshi Hase and former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. Neither of them signed on, but it would have been cool. We wrote an article about Deep Sea Monster Reigo a while back, so it has some more tidbits.
Reigo requires some background information so we don’t just jump in with no clue what is going on. The Yamato was a Japanese warship that served in World War 2, at the time it was the heaviest warship ever built displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load, and armed with nine 46 cm (18.1 inch) main guns. The Yamato was sunk in April 1945 during Operation Ten-Go. None of the historical officers mentioned in the Wikipedia article show up in the film (at least as far as I could tell) so everyone seems to be purely fictitious. But, then, subtitles… The film takes place in the days just after US involvement in World War 2 and the Yamato faces its first powerful opponent, a sea monster named Reigo. Reigo is a little ticked that the Yamato killed its baby, so she sets out to starts smashing up the Yamato and its battle group (Battleships sail with several smaller ships for support, mostly destroyers/cruisers.) Battle is joined, people get killed, ships get sunk, the monster roars a lot, lighting flies all over the place, your general kaiju stuff.
This Chinese DVD has no English subtitles, so it is either Japanese language or Chinese subtitles, so we shall just wing it. At TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles! The film is pretty easy to figure out without subtitles, so no worries there.
We begin with flashbacks – Osako’s pregnant wife, Kaido walking on the beach with Chie Kojima, Kaido telling his mom about his deployment, and then we get to color as the Yamato takes off (with his mom signaling him with flags.)
On the Yamato, a girl is snuck on (I believe she is the late AV star Yumika Hayashi, who died in 2005, showing how long ago the live action footage was filmed. Yumika Hayashi was also in a few of the Sexy S.W.A.T. Team films), but also an elderly islander (played by Mickey Curtis) who tells Osako the story of Reigo. Normally when crazy people ramble on about monsters, it is polite to nod along like they are right, otherwise they might get agitated and start stabbing people on the bus. After the Islander finishes his story he goes on his way, allowing Osaki to go all the way with the girl that was snuck aboard.
Captain Yamagami addresses the crew and we get some basic crew stuff montage until someone spots some odd fins in the water. It could be enemy subs, so they shoot at it! The guns fire, the water explodes, and it looks like a baby Reigo is dead. That isn’t good! Mommy isn’t gonna be happy.
As death is happening in the water, life is continuing as normal on board the Yamato, with a talent show happening in the mess hall. Someone is dressed as a skeleton for one of the tricks, so there is that. A drunken Osako finds a guy floating in the water and brings him on board. He speaks English and Japanese, the actor looks mixed. He claims to be part of a gun crew on an American ship, but ends up being put in the brig.
That night, one of the deck crews on guard duty is attacked by multiple little electric Reigos, the lone survivor makes it downstairs (sans arm) before he dies. The rest are just pieces on the deck. I was confused at first and thought there were lots of little baby Reigos, but then realized they were some sort of electricity spirits/apparitions, because Reigo is electricity/lightning powered. Kaido also spotted Reigo in the ocean and reports all of this to the Captain. The castaway gives Osako some more information, while Reigo continues to stalk. Osaka tells the Captain about Reigo. Reigo? Reigo? Reigo? Reigo? Reigo? Actual dialogue. Some of the department heads have a meeting and argue for a while. That’s what I want in my monster film, arguing.
The Yamato group sails on, but the next night…Reigo attack! One of the destroyer escorts is smashed by the monster. Searchlights are sent out and Reigo is spotted…heading right for the Yamato. One of the other destroyers moves to intercept (this one is captained by a guy with an eyepatch), getting hit by Reigo instead. This vessels explodes. Hugely. Like final boss in a video game huge. Death Star huge.
There is a meeting of ship captains later…looks like Eyepatch survived! How in the world? For once I would like to have subtitles. He shows up later so this isn’t a continuity error. Hey, it turns out there is a submarine with this battle group! There was a submarine with this battle group! Has a submarine ever survived a kaiju picture? I am not counting the Gotengo. The rest of the ships attack Reigo, but Reigo just dodges or deflects the depth charges and torpedoes and guns, then smashes up another escort ship. I am sensing the pattern now, the escort ships are like the expendable characters in most monster movies and will be killed off one by one, until only the love interest escort ship and maybe the minority comic relief cruiser survive until the end.
The next night, Reigo attacks again, this time leaping over the Yamato because it looks cool.
Did I lie? I think not. The ships return fire and Reigo is hopping around, lightning from Reigo hits the Yamato and zaps at least one dude dead. By now some other guy is acting captain, the original captain is not able to handle the stress of losing men to a glorified electric whale. It was revenge for all that Minke Whale sushi. Two destroyers engage Reigo, one gets rammed and explodes, and we get a gratuitous shot of Reigo flipping a body in the air and eating it. I wish this had been done with the miniature and not the CGI model. Oh, well.
The Yamato lets water out of one ballast so the ship is lopsided, then rotates her guns towards the down side (so the guns are pointing into the water.) Osako has grabbed the prisoner from the brig to help in the gun room, as they are one man short and out of people who know what they are doing. Reigo heads right towards the Yamato, and the main guns manage to miss Reigo, who jumps over the ship and uses his tail to knock out part of the Yamato‘s tower. D’oh! Reigo turns around and ready to strike again. The gun crew Osako runs turns their turrent and fires, just as Reigo is leaping up to smash…they blasts Reigo through the body and Reigo falls. This is some Moby Dick stuff right here!
The remaining ships machine gun up the poor wounded monster, who was only avenging its dead baby. Reigo sinks beneath the waves. We get an epilogue that tells of the final day of the Yamato, complete with the Kabuki actor Ukon Ichikawa in full regalia dancing around and everyone on the ship dies. Take that, Japan!
Epilogue time as Chie Kojima goes to a shrine, and we also see Osako’s wife and kid (with a turtle – because he is the Gamera trilogy character Inspector Osako, and the Osako in this film was his father!)
There is some making of stuff during the credits, which tell us that Reigo will be back in Diamonds are FoReigo!
For a low-budget fan film, this was a pretty impressive effort. The CGI work is not up to par at all with the miniature work, which is a shame because it detracts from the overall enjoyment of the film. There are also a few slow parts, but since I could understand much of what was going on without subtitles, it did present an effective story. Overall, I liked it, but didn’t love it. Hopefully, the sequel will be more action and mayhem, since it looks like this was more of a stepping stone to some higher budget effects.
Rated 7/10 (Signals, Birds, This means something, Guy who took over, Dude with poppin’ eyes, I am kabuki dead!, Gamera?!?!?!?!)
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