Saturday, June 07, 2003


Video Reviews of "Yongary Monster from the Deep" and "Reptilian"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Much to my dismay as a Godzilla fan when the Sony American version of the big G was released a new wave in Godzilla popularity began. Oh well, as Madonna is fond of saying, "There’s no such thing as bad publicity." Because of a terrible remake that had little to do with its legendary source material, Godzilla was back.

Once upon a time in the 1960s Godzilla and other Japanese kaiju eiga movies were cool and at the peak of their popularity. Then as now, everyone wanted a piece of the action, witness the Fox Network production of "Gargantua" that aired the week of Sony’s Godzilla release. Among the big G’s imitators in the 1960s were the super turtle Gamera, the monster family Gappa, the British Gorgo, the Dutch Reptilicus and, of course, South Korea’s Yongary.

The South Koreans shamelessly ripped the Japanese off in 1969 with their version Yongary Monster from the Deep a not bad carbon copy. It was adequate in every way. Simple story (cliches abound as might be expected) with special effects on par with the Japanese sci-fi of the day like "Ultra Man" but no better. Good monster suit and laughable fire breath, again, typical and good enough for the time.

It was a good attempt at creating a national kaiju eiga for South Korea. Yongary is fondly remembered by fans of the genre. Ironically North Korea would wait a few decades before trying their hand with Pulgasari which actually has more in common with Reptilian than Yongary.

With the recent return of the big G less fertile minds went to work resurrecting old Yongary as the feature monster in Reptilian. Having not seen the original cut of this sequel I can’t really say if it’s any good or not but the American dub has the obvious stink of over-editing and additional scenes.

It has long been the theory that American audiences just can’t identify with Asian actors and storylines which is why we had to suffer through Raymond Burr in the original Godzilla King of the Monsters. Reptilian follows suite with I’d say about twenty to thirty minutes of new American footage. Who knows what the original plot was but here aliens use Yongary’s resurrected corpse as a weapon in their invasion. We barely hear the name ‘Yongary’ except in passing and there seems to be no reference to the original movie.

While the CGI effects are impressive you never get the feeling the monster is doing anything other than cavorting in front of a blue screen. By American SPX standards this is poor and about on par with, believe it or not, what passes for "Ultra Man" today. It is however light years beyond the original flick. Bad attempt, stay away, rent a real Godzilla movie instead.

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