FANTASTIC FEST 2011: KARATE ROBO ZABORGAR Review
Being a fan of Japanese kaiju cinema and diving a little bit in to Japanese monster TV shows I knew a little about Karate Robo Zaborgar before sitting down and watch Noboru Iguchi's take on the legendary transforming motorbike and its crime fighting hero. Now this is in no way a modern take on the material, nothing has been updated FX vise or changed, instead the filmmakers have tried their best to recapture the feel of the cheesy 70's TV show. So this is as far from Michael Bay's version of Transformers as it could possibly get.
Similar to Takashi Miike's Yatterman and Hideaki Anno's Cutey Honey it plays with the TV format of those show weekly battles with various bad guys with hilarious results.
Daimon (Yasuhisa Furuhara) is a crime fighting rouge, riding around on his bad ass transforming motorcycle that when given the command turns in to the karate chopping fist of steel that is Zaborgar. Here they are fighting the mad cyborg inventor Dr. Akunomiya, his trusty sidekick Miss Borg of the Sigma organization who are stealing DNA from important people to build a giant cyborg that will help them take over the world.
When Daimon and Miss Borg accidentally fall in love (another similarity to Yatterman) things go sour between him and Zaborgar and the whole thing ends up in tragedy. Jump ahead 25 years and we see our hero as back aching diabetic loser who recently lost his job.
Sigma is just finally now finishing up its giant robot so Daimon must again seek out the help of his old friend Zaborgar to battle Dr. Akunomiya and stop the gigantic ditsy schoolgirl that's destroying the city.
What I love about Karate Robo Zaborgar is how it oozes good times and ridiculousness. Hardly updating the look of the 70's TV show at all, aside from breast monsters and butt dragons here and there, it has the great campy handmade feel of the old show. The script is also very funny and unlike the original show does it ever take itself seriously. This film is made for the people who grew up with Zaborgar probably has a huge nostalgia factor for japanese fans of the show. Iguchi reins it in for this one, no nudity or much explicit gore as in his other films. Instead we get a film that's pretty much like the director himself, a bubbly ball of energy that gets you to smile no matter what.
Of the few Sushi Typhoon films that I have seen this has been the best one but it also suffers from the main thing that bothers me about their other productions. It's way too long and after a while the constant action and silliness can get to you. Cut a few minutes out and you might have one of the best super hero spoofs out there.
I really hope they make action figures out of the sucking samurai and bulldog truck.