The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (Review)
The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit
Minoru Kawasaki has been given the nickname of late as the “Ed Wood of Japan.” I think this nickname is misleading, because Minoru Kawasaki’s films aren’t bad, they are just really weird. The kind of weird that plays well to international cult audiences but if you try to describe them to your coworkers they just look at you weird and then avoid talking movies with you in future conversations. He first burst in the international scene with Calamari Wrestler in 2004, about a squid that showed up at wrestling matches. His other films include Executive Koala – about a koala executive who may have murdered his wife, Crab Goalkeeper – about a crab that is a goalkeeper on a soccer team, The World Sinks Except Japan – a parody of The Sinking of Japan film (this was also Kawasaki’s first film filled with political satire), Kabuto-O Beetle – another wrestling film with a giant beetle, The Rug Cop – a parody of 1970’s Japanese cop tv shows involving a living toupee, and the upcoming Neko Râmen Taishô – about a cat who runs a Ramen stand. This resume makes him the perfect person to helm the return film for the giant monster Guilala. (He actually did work with giant monsters on Ultraman Tiga.)
Guilala first appeared in 1967’s The X from Outer Space (aka Uchi Daikaiju Girara, literally Giant Space Monster Guilala.) This was the first daikaiju film from Shochiku. After Guilala was brought to Earth as a spore it grew into a giant monster and rampaged until it was coated with Guilalalium, which returned it into a spore and it was shot back into space. The goofy monster design is probably what the film is best remembered for. There have been rumors for years of Guilala returning, most noticeably the long-standing rumor that he would fight Gappa, another Japanese monster who was a one-shot deal from the Nikkatsu studios. And now Guilala reappears years later in The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (as well as a promotional exercise video released around the time of the movie’s release in theaters in 2008 that I have been unable to track down!) After the film was released in Japan, Guilala showed up again in the US in a commercial for Ladders, some job website.
The Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit is not a daikaiju movie in so much as it is political satire set against the backdrop of a monster attack. The political caricatures are independent enough that you don’t need to know who they are to follow along, but if you are versed in foreign affairs than you get a whole new layer of jokes that others will miss.
The G8 Summit is a forum for governments of eight nations of the northern hemisphere. The leaders of the eight member nations each get represented here as exaggerated caricatures, though how exaggerated you are can vary. There is also a few changes from who actually attended the G8 Summitt due to political changes in power that happened after the script was already in production. The most noticeably is that Prime Minister Shinz? Abe hosts the summit here, while in reality the 2008 G8 Summit in Japan was actually hosted by former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who took over after Abe’s surprise resignation. The Russian president is also called Putin, though the Russian president at the time of the meeting was Dmitri Medvedev (and the actor resembles him more than Putin.) All other minor differences are listed below in the Social Studies 101 section. But first we need to introduce the non-political characters:
Social Studies 101
There are eight members of the G8 (hence the name) based on the leading eight economies. There are a few provincial nations and unofficial EU stuff but that is all too complicated to care about and isn’t in the movie. Some of the leaders have altered names, and others might but just not altered enough for a viewing with no subtitles to pick up. The eight leaders who are in the movie are…
In addition, there are two bonus world leaders!
The film starts at the G8 conference at Lake Toya in Hokkaido. It is a typical boring conference, so reporter Sumire Sumidagawa and cameraman Sanpei Toyama go off by the lake, and then wander in woods where it gets spooky. They stumble across a village that is doing a prayer ritual for a sacrifice to a god. This involves dancing to a beat. Sumire Sumidagawa spots carvings of Guilala and Takeshi monster in wood panels, but at this time she has no idea what they are and just stores them in her long term memory. The village spots them watching and stops their ritual.
The G8 Summit continues as the participants argue amongst themselves. French President Sarkozy isn’t arguing because he is hitting on his translator (gravure idol Morishita Yuri who plays Bunny in the Secret Undercover Agent films.) Everyone argues in their native tongues, which everyone else can understand (so why are there translators again?) Throughout the film everyone will speak in their native language with no translation problems at all. Something interesting happens when a spacecraft falls out of orbit and crashes in a city. The ship brings back a visitor, in the form of an alien spore that grows into the giant monster Guilala! Soon an aide comes running in to tell PM Ibe that there is a monster attacking. Guilala blasts up a city, then forms into a sphere and flies through the air. The G8 summit watches in horror, then a pack of generals march in. You might recognize these generals, as they have experience fighting giant monsters:
General Kimura is played by Susumu Kurobe, who was Shin Hayata, the human identity of Ultraman. He was also in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus and Deep Sea Monster Reigo. General Narumi is played by Yosuke Natsuki, who was in Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster and Godzilla 1985. General Takamine is played by Bin Furuya, who was Ultraman in Ultraman, and was also in Ultra 7 and Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster.
The generals try to evacuate everyone, but the American President Berger says he ain’t running, his citizens demand he kick some monster butt, and he tries to get everyone to go along with him. The French guy agrees because it will get him some J-tail. Soon everyone else falls in line.
Now they plan the attack. There is a eight year old kid there who mocks their attack plans, the generals call security and have him dragged out! This is awesome. The rest of the film could be hardcore horse porn and it would still be cool. Minoru Kawasaki drew a line in the sand and stomped on Kenny!
Some subplot happens where people blame the Chinese for bringing Guilala back, I guess it was a Chinese spacecraft. The press is going bonkers (much like the real 24 hour news cycle in the US would do, so this is less satire than reality.) People are marketing Guilala Spam and other items. A running gag will be the announcement of the G8 Summit changes description as each country comes up with a battle plan.
The current battle plan is to blast Guilala into a volcano. They lure Guilala up with a volcano explosion, because Guilala feeds on the heat. The score does some synthesizer Akira Ifukube music. Japan is leading the charge, with a Bald Eagle Missile attack. This is some super-missile. They fire (President Berger fires the missile because Ibe is too nervous do it) but the plan backfires as Guilala catches and then eats the missile. US president Berger is upset, and Japan PM Ibe runs off and quits due to diarrhea (just like in real life.)
Italy decides they will come up with the new plan (The US President says he finally sees the point of letting Italy in the G8!) The plan is given the grand name “Spirit of Rome” even though it is just to dig a big hole, lure Guilala over the hole (which is now covered) and have him fall in. This is accomplished by luring Guilala with a missile that turns around 180 degrees and causes him to chase it until he falls into the pit. Everyone is happy, until Guilala just climbs out and starts blasting the military camp. Epic failure.
As the American and Italian presidents argue, Koizuma shows up!!! He is known as former Prime Minister Junzaburo Ohizumi in this “please don’t sue us!” version. These are public figures, mock away with their real names, please! There is also someone missing from the conference, as French President Sarkozy is on date with Bunny! She is speaking French, which is a skill that A.) I didn’t know she could do, and B.) has been completely ignored by the two Secret Undercover Agents films despite the fact it would work in perfect there. French President Sarkozy is dragged away and back to the G8 Summit.
The Russian President’s plan is to poison the monster with Polonium-210! That’s a reference I didn’t expect! A shady-looking Russian agent fires a dart into Guilala, but Guilala just falls asleep. Germany takes over with the new plan, which is to wrap Guilala in plastic and gas him with Dublin VXVIII (the literature calls this Phosphorous VX Poison Gas) It is hard to make a joke about Germany gassing things to death so we will just move along… Ohizumi wants to nuke Guilala while he is asleep, but everyone thinks he is crazy. Germany pours on the gas, but Guilala wakes up and starts laughing. Take that, Germany!
Things go from crazed to bizarre when Guilala spends the next two minutes dancing. Why? Why not!
Sumire Sumidagawa remembers the wood carvings and go back to the village (with the cameraguy), she also notices the other carving of a monster who fights Guilala. She is told it is Takemajin by the village kid. An old guy shows them parchments of ancient Guilala and Takemajin, and then Sumire has visions. Take-Majin is the guardian of of Lake Toya and is told will defeat the evil monster. Sumire Sumidagawa learns the prayer dance for Take-Majin and starts to perform it.
Back in G8 Land, the British Prime Minster is starting his plan, which is Operation Brainwash! A plane with giant headphones drops them on Guilala’s head, and the headphones begin shocking Guilala. (This is brainwashing?) The plan fails because the headphones fall off, and then Guilala goes nutso and starts smashing up some power lines. These G8 people can’t do anything right! Just like real life…
Ohizumi starts to talk, and soon everyone is freaked when he whips off his mask and is Kim Jong-Il! I know I get angry when my close friends turn out to be Kim Jong-Il. How many times have I killed my best friends for secretly being evil dictators? Probably a few dozen times… So Kim Jong-Il is there, and all the Japanese translator girls are female Korean agents with guns! Kim Jong-Il is going to nuke Guilala, because you got to nuke something. Hey, French President Sarkozy is missing again, where is he? He’s in bed with the translator girl he was flirting with (turns out her name is Nami) and because he was totally French-tastic in bed, she spills the beans that Kim Jong-Il is gonna nuke Guilala. The French president saves the day by coming in and exposing himself to the North Korean girls, who scream and the American President grabs a gun and Japanese special forces guys run in. Please note that this fictitious President Berger is far more of a kick butt leader than Bush ever was.
“Sucks to be you!” American president Berger tells Kim Jong-Il! I would totally vote for this guy. But Kim Jong-Il has another switch to the nuclear missile in his glasses, and he sets it off! The Potedon-55 missile fires!
At the town prayer site things are working and stuff is glowing in the Take-Majin Temple, but the army drives up to warn everyone to get out of Dodge because of the nuke. Amazing that they have all this time to evacuate everyone. The scientist guy on the tv screen (who popped up occasionally before to tell us things and I neglected to mention him) tells the G8 people that if Guilala is nuked it will turn into hundreds of Guilalas! That is a bad thing, in case you were wondering!
The bomb flies in…explodes right in front of Guilala and turns into a golden metal monster guy! It is Take-Majin! Actually, the nuclear missile is still intact, and flies right up Take-Majin’s butt! This movie is weird. Anyway, it is giant monster fighting time! Only 75 minutes into the freaking movie! Sigh… But now we got monster action. Pow! Bang! Ziff! Wham! Snuh!
The fight goes both ways at times, but eventually Take-Majin tosses Guilala aside, then lops off his head with a hooped weapon. Guilala’s body then explodes I guess that means he’s dead. Kim Jong-Il manages to escape while they are celebrating, but no matter, let’s restart the G8 Summit! No consequences for anyone! Hooray!
Well, since the film was majorly political satire, it is not going to be what many people will expect, and I predict lots of people will be disappointed when this shows up in America. On the other hand, there will be plenty of people complaining, which I always find funny. I don’t mind the political stuff, because it is interesting to see how other countries view things. I had no idea that Japan still thought of Italy as the Roman Empire, or is under the impression Germany just gasses things. Some of the Guilala effects look pretty old school, they got the look down very well. Minoru Kawasaki is a pretty weird director, anyone who has seen Executive Koala can attest to that. Expect more of his films to show up here later in the year.
Rated 6/10 (Eye alive, Toy, I HATE KENNY!, Eat it up, Suit Man!, Director with his kaiju)
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