Movie Reviews 95 – Big Man Japan (2007)

Big Man JapanJapanese never cease to amaze me. The little island nation has always been different from the rest of the world, being both the model of a docile, respectful nation and on the darker side, one of the most rebellious and outrageous outlets of expression. I have always admired and enjoyed their Kaiju Eiga (Godzilla, Ultraman and everything else in between featuring rubber suited monsters and gigantic saviors) as well as a slew of off beat horrors (Robot Geisha, Machine Girl, Tokyo Gore Police, etc). But even I wasn’t prepared for Big Man Japan.

Watching the trailers I knew it was a comedic take on a man who had the power to turn himself into a giant and thus was some sort of giant monster fighter. The trailer even hinted this power was not something only this one warrior had, but something that was supposed to be part of Japanese history even showing some cool vintage black and white grainy footage of past ‘big men’.

But this movie starts of slow. Really slow. A guy is sitting alone at home being video interviewed and answering some odd questions about his life, family and salary. We slowly realize that he is talking about the last of the ‘big men’ and it’s his job to turn into one such whenever a monster appears. The once great and honorable profession has been reduced to a low rating TV show in a ghastly 2am time slot. But our last hero isn’t complaining despite his dire situation, taking the daily defacing of his home and occasional rock thrown through his windows all in stride. It seems that most of the public don’t think too highly of this last vestige of a bygone era. His only respite comes from the twice yearly visits with his daughter and the visits to ‘The Fourth’ his grandfather, one of the last remaining ‘big men’ from the glory days.

This opening half of the movie, while funny at times, is quite sombre and slow paced, showing a man trying to put up a brave face while everything around him crumbles. Even his publicist is demeans his profession, takes advantage of him and tries to sell sections of his body as advertising space.  We eventually get to see him transform before our very eyes into a ‘big man’, and not one the looks like his diminutive form at all. He then gets to fight some pretty outrageous giant monsters (all CGI as is he in giant form) but even then the outcome is not exactly what you would expect. But even with all the craziness I’ve just described, this last ten minutes are completely unexplainable when he meets up with a crazy ‘ultra’ family that I could never explain in any length of writing.

Yeah, this is a movie that must be seen to be believed. Now whether one would want to depends on one’s familiarity with Japanese silly movies. Not for the uninitiated, that’s for sure.

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