Tuesday, April 19, 2005

REPTILIAN

Columbia/Tristar's REPTILIAN (YONGGARY, 2001) requires some explanation. Made in South Korea, the movie is an updated remake of the 1967 flick TAEKOESU YONGGARY, known on American television and home video as YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP. The new version was made by director Hyung-rae Shim specifically to prove that Korean productions could compete internationally with Hollywood films on a technical level. The dialogue was written by American Marty Poole, and it was shot in English with a no-name American cast. The film was huge hit in Asia, and Columbia/Tristar released it on home video in America hot on the heels of their own GODZILLA remake.

As a giant monster movie, REPTILIAN has all the right ingredients – they're just rather ineptly assembled. The film's got a prehistoric giant monster battling the armed forces, alien invaders, and a lot of footage of military bigwigs watching the monster on magical TV monitors…. but most of importantly, it has jetpacks.

The plot – well, it makes virtually no sense at all. Characters are developed who disappear later without explanation. Plot threads are left dangling all over the place, and the dialogue is laughably bad. But I'm a reviewer, and I have to try to synopsize it, so (deep breath): aliens reanimate a giant dinosaur, called Yonggary, to wreak havoc and weaken our planet's defenses. They teleport him to a major (allegedly American) city, where he is engaged by helicopters, tanks, jets and (in a very cool idea) a group of soldiers with jetpacks and bazookas. Why the aliens need to reanimate Yonggary is never clear, since when they lose control of him late in the film, they send a giant monster of their own to Earth to fight him.

The effects are entirely computer generated and are about on the level of a PS2 cut scene – pretty good for a Korean studio in 2000, but kinda laughable by Hollywood standards. Columbia's transfer is flawless, with crisp images and no apparent print damage. The sound is full and robust. The disc includes a couple of text features that explain the film's convoluted production history and the fictional biology of the featured creatures, as well as trailers for the Matthew Broderick GODZILLA film and GODZILLA 2000.

If you're a fan of the genre, you might want to hunt it down. But frankly, the Koreans should leave giant monster movies to Japanese.

BUY: Reptilian