HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Dreams on Fire
Sing as We Go!
Burnt Orange Heresy, The
Craft Legacy, The
Eye of the Storm
Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands
Where No Vultures Fly
Come True
Kagemusha
Justine
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Suspect
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Dementer
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Blush
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
Archenemy
Zappa
Mindwarp
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Greenland
Broil
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
   
 
Newest Articles
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
   
 
  Great Yokai War, The Ghosts Trash Tokyo
Year: 2005
Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Hiroyuki Miyasako, Chiaki Kuriyama, Bunta Sugawara, Kaho Minami, Riko Narumi, Etsushi Toyokawa, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Mai Takahashi, Masaomi Kondo, Sadao Abe, Takashi Okamura, Naoto Takenaka, Kenichi Endo, Renji Ishibashi
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Maverick Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike has finally found a genre suited to his love of gross-out humour and ultra-violence… kids’ movies! Following his superhero spoof Zebraman (2004), Miike revived the “yokai” genre of spooky movies drawn from traditional Japanese folk tales and aimed at monster-loving youngsters.

All over Japan, children begin to disappear and terrifying mechanical monsters start attacking people. Gawky young Tadashi Ino (Ryûnosuke Kamiki) is chosen to be the next Kirin Rider, guardian of peace and defender of justice. Spirited away to Goblin Mountain, he joins a wacky band of friendly yokai to recover the mystical goblin sword and stop legendary sorcerer Yasunori Kato (Etsushi Toyokawa) and his chic retro-Sixties styled ghost girl sidekick Agi (Chiaki Kuriyama) from wiping out all humanity.

Yokai movies had their heyday in the Sixties when Daiei studios produced the trilogy of 100 Monsters (1968), Yokai Monsters: Spook Warfare (1968) and Along with Ghosts (1969). Although Sakuya, Slayer of Demons (2000) beat Miike to the punch in reviving this much-loved genre, his big-budget effort has an ace in hole: story input and creature designs by anime/manga legend Shigeru Mizuki. Mizuki is more or less the godfather of the yokai genre having created Spooky Kitaro (1968), the ghost-busting boy hero and star of dozens of anime feature films and TV shows over the past five decades and a pair of live action movies in 2007. Here, Tadashi actually visits the Shigeru Mizuki manga museum to learn all about yokai, while a cowardly ghost is berated for not being as brave as he is “in all those Kitaro comics!” Mizuki himself cameos as a ghostly big giant head and delivers an impassioned anti-war speech. In addition to his yokai stories, the artist is famed for his harrowing tales about the Second World War.

Nobody draws yokai quite like Mizuki and the cast of quality character actors clearly have a ball inhabiting his eccentric creations. Stand-up comedian Sadao Abe is off-the-wall as Kawataro the Kappa (water sprite), Renji Ishibashi essays the sagely red goblin Kubi and the beautiful Mai Takahashi gives an impassioned performance as Kawahime the river princess, who becomes Tadashi’s first love but holds conflicted feelings towards her onetime rescuer, Kato.

Miike stays true to his anarchic sensibilities by including mischievous jokes about beer enabling people to see invisible yokai, a scene where a frantic cop shoots the civilian he’s trying to save, and costuming gorgeous Kill Bill (2003) and Battle Royale (2000) starlet Chiaki Kuriyama (who besides sex-appeal delivers a memorably sardonic performance) in a towering white beehive and backless micro miniskirt (God bless you, Takashi!). But the film is far subtler and contemplative than you might expect. Two themes are intertwined: Tadashi’s rite of passage towards adulthood and Kato’s resentment towards humanity for cruelly casting aside all the “useful things” from Japan’s past. “Those who discard their past have no future”, says Kawahime. According to Shinto beliefs, everything including inanimate objects has a spirit. The film argues even the most useless seeming things, including traditional yokai like the Umbrella Ghost, the Wall Spirit and the Azuki Bean Washer (Takashi Okamura) - literally, a guy who sits washing beans all day - can be useful.

Ryûnosuke Kamiki makes an endearingly vulnerable lead and proves quite a skilled comedian but curiously, Miike is less enamoured with his child hero than he is with ruthless villain Yasunori Kato. Every heroic effort by Tadashi falters before Kato’s nonchalant cool and he ultimately has very little to do with the final outcome which features a gag reference to an old nursery rhyme about eating your Azuki beans. A cynical coda shows Tadashi grow up to be a stressed-out salaryman, no longer able to see the friendly yokai who call to him. The silly “evil lives on” coda spoils the message unless Miike is planning a sequel that extols the virtues of middle age.

In spite of these few flaws, The Great Yokai War is often marvellously evocative: creepy sexy and cool. How many children’s movies can say that? The special effects are outstanding and, typical of Japanese cinema, ingeniously mix latex costumes with puppetry and surreal computer graphics. Miike throws out witty, turbo-charged set-pieces including a haunted school-bus ride through Goblin Mountain where the yokai test Tadashi’s mettle by scaring the bejeezus out of him; a Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) riff with everyone outrunning a rolling boulder; the ghost gang riding on the wing of a jumbo jet (Miike adds the sarcastic caption: “Don’t try this at home, kids!”); the enormous smog-belching robot that turns Tokyo into an apocalyptic nightmare (wherein a drunken tramp looks at the sky and says: “Relax, it’s just Gamera”); and an amazing climax where literally thousands of outlandish, party-loving yokai turn the city into one giant mosh pit.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2503 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Takashi Miike  (1960 - )

Japan’s most controversial director, notorious for his dauntingly prolific output and willingness to push the boundaries of taste. Miike started working as an assistant director in the late 80s, before moving into making straight-to-video thrillers in 1991. He made his feature debut in 1995 with the violent cop thriller Shinjuku Triad Society, and since then has averaged around seven films year.

His best best known pictures are the deeply twisted love story Audition, the blackly comic gorefest Ichi the Killer, cannibal comedy musical Happiness of the Katakuris and the often surreal Dead or Alive trilogy. Films such as The Bird People in China and Sabu showed a more restrained side. With later works such as samurai epic 13 Assassins and musical For Love's Sake he showed no signs of slowing down, reaching his hundredth movie Blade of the Immortal in 2017. A true original, Miike remains one of the most exciting directors around.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
   

 

Last Updated: