on 26 August 2013
I'm not going to write about the films. They are great periode stories, typical sixties style acting and a statue of a god that comes alive and takes revenge on horrible lords who enslave villagers.
The films are very colorfull and look really gorgous. I'm surprised that these old films (almost 50 years old) look this fantastic. Compliments to the producer of this blu-ray set.
But what is really important to know, is that these films are region free. They played perfectly well on my blu-ray region B player. So don't be put off on the region A information from Amazon. Amazon only looks at the cover and that says region A, but that information is incorrect.
By the way, if you want to know or region A blu-ray also play on other regions, you can get the information on the internet at [...]
Spanning three films all released at four monthly intervals in the same year, 1966, the Daimajin series is one of the most atypical of all Japanese kaiju films. In this case the strange monster is a giant statue of a warrior that comes to life, but rather than menacing a modern city he's a force of nature at once both protecting and threatening the devout villagers in period feudal Japan. Slow to anger - it's not until the last 15 minutes of the first film that he's roused - when unleashed he doesn't distinguish between tyrants and their victims in his destructive wrath. Until he comes to life the first film is in many ways a typical period drama with more swordplay than monster mashing with its rightful and decent rulers killed in a palace coup and the Lord's two surviving children hiding on God's forbidden mountain in the shadow of the mighty statue of Daimajin until they can grow to take their revenge. The statue itself is barely highlighted, seen in the background of a few scenes but never foregrounded until the blasphemous pretender to the title decides to tear down the monument to further demoralise the peasants he has been mercilessly oppressing and forcing to build fortifications to secure his power: BIG mistake...
Surprisingly for the increasingly cash-strapped Daiei Company it's quite a lavishly mounted production, boasting handsome production design, a score by Akira Ifukube's that occasionally evokes his work on Godzilla and impressive cinematography by Fujiro Morita, who features in three half-hour interviews on Mill Creek's Blu-ray release. The special effects are generally well handled, with superior compositing to many other kaijus in some of the `hero' shots - there's a particularly impressive zoom past some burning carts to Daimajin's face that is particularly striking.
Return of Daimajin aka Wrath of Daimajin (both titles that were also used for the third film in some territories, which causes some confusion) fulfils the classic sequel requirement of being the same, but different. This time rather than a palace coup it's a local tyrant taking over a prosperous rival's territory and deciding to stamp his authority and demonstrate his contempt for the notion of God's wrath by destroying their statue, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the one in the first film. They get round to this a lot quicker this time, and rather than using sledgehammers and nails do the job with explosives
Once again it's more than an hour before Daimajin finally makes his appearance, one unseen intervention from beneath the waves notwithstanding, summoned by the tears of a virtuous noblewoman just in time to prevent another crucifixion (there's a surprising amount of Christian imagery in this entry), and as with the first film there's a real sense of Cecil B. de Mille to the wrath of God scenes as the elements run riot, a comparison made even more direct by the waters surrounding `God's Island' parting behind the Daimajin. This time he's a bit more discerning who he aims his wrath at, and he faces more ingenious opposition too, though perhaps because of the rush to get the film into theatres as soon as possible the compositing on the effects shots isn't as good as the first film. But it's still another handsome production shot in the kind of classical style you'd be more likely to expect from a high quality samurai film that makes for a satisfying 78 minutes' entertainment.
The third and final film, Daimajin Strikes Again, changes the format slightly and jettisons most of the religious angle, though not noticeably for the better. This time rather than the aristocracy being deposed, it's peasants being captured for slave labour and their young children rather optimistically going across the Maijin's forbidden mountain to rescue them. This time we don't have to wait so long for a bit of destruction, the film opening with the barely glimpsed Daimajin tearing down and stomping much of the countryside in one of his moodies, but it feels a bit like a last minute decision to add a bit of oomph to the picture. Once the prologue's out of the way it's less than compelling stuff: while more than decent actors, the children aren't strong enough characters to carry the film over the long and not particularly exciting journey, and even an unexpected death doesn't add any impact to a surprisingly flat affair. Eventually, after enough screen time has passed and the weather has taken a turn for the worse, Daimajin puts on his angry face and stops this season's would-be warlord and his samurai (especially thinly drawn this time round), yet despite decent effects there's not much of a thrill in the destruction this time round.
While still a cut above the kaiju norm, the production values don't stretch so far this time despite the crew's best efforts to hide what looks like a much smaller budget, though the arrival of heavy snow in the last half hour does give the film a fairly unique look for the genre even if the main locations aren't as well used as those in the first two films. But there's no getting around the fact that this last outing for the giant statue is a pretty dull affair.
Despite a few slightly flat shots, the Blu-ray transfers are generally impressive considering the age of the films and the budget price of Mill Creek's region-free disc. Some of the subtitling is a bit awkward at times - "Quiet you silly priestess!" - but then silly translation has always been part of the charm of the genre (the discs also offer a decent enough English dub alongside the original Japanese). Along with the interview with Morita, the original Japanese trailers are also included.
on 28 August 2013
I've been on a bit of a giant monster movie bender since I saw Pacific Rim and I brought this box set along with Gamera and Godzilla vs Biollante. First thing's first: the blu-ray quality is superb. These films don't look like they're nearly 50 years old.
Daimajin 10/10 - Easily one of the top monster movies I've ever seen alongside the original King Kong and Godzilla. The story is a brilliant samurai period story which threatens to unleash the Majin. When the monster is let loose the film doesn't disappoint. I felt like a ten year old boy again. Amazing.
Return of Daimajin 8/0 - Another good samurai period drama, but this time it's starting to feel a bit formulaic.
Daimajin Strikes Again 4/10 - The second installment works because it has a decent story. The third part fails on that front and the Majin no longer feels like a threat, but is an expected addition to a bland plot. And to make matters worse his rampage is almost exactly the same as we've seen twice before. Completely lacks new ideas.
At under £9 - two good movies for under a fiver - this package is value for money,
on 29 May 2014
This is one awesome set of 3 classic movies, for the 60's these are truly stunning to look at on Blu-ray, amazing picture quality, the Daimajin trilogy is a great set of movies with good stories, great cast and amazing effects for the time, if you like all the cult classic Japanese monster movies from around the time and samurai movies this combines them both beautifully and in many ways is much better, this would make an amazing remake one day if done properly, be sure to check these out.
The import Blu-ray says A on back but plays region free on UK players.
There is also some bonus features including trailers and interviews, great package for the money.
First off, I must commend Trevor Willsmer's review of this set. I can't fault anything he writes about it and agree with everything he says so pretty much anything I have to say is superfluous. But that's never stopped me before. So I'm really writing this review to show that it's not just one person's opinion that it's worth having.
Considering that all three were made in about a year, to judge from the release date that is, it's astonishing that they are so relatively well made. Set in the feudal era with lots of jostling warlords, there's plenty of samurai action albeit relatively bloodless. The third is probably the weakest because the central section is more or less a kids adventure with four pre-teen boys on a journey to free their fathers from the bad guy but it redeems itself with effective wintry scenes.
The main weakness of these otherwise pretty good little films (which are usually longer, the first by a good 10 mins, than the time stated on the cover) is that structurally they're all the same. You have the setup, the story which occupies most of it, then the last 15 minutes or so when finally Daimajin appears and stomps the bad guys. That's the problem really, once our living statue gets going the movie is effectively over because we know he's going to win. It's also the part that we've been patiently waiting for the previous 50-60 minutes to see, not that they aren't enjoyable in themselves.
This being an import, it doesn't have a British rating so if you're wondering if it's suitable for kids, I'd give it a lenient PG or a slightly harsh 12. Whatever, all three films are good fun and a bargain at under a tenner and Blu-ray to boot.