Garo: Red Requiem 牙狼〈ＧＡＲＯ〉 〜ＲＥＤ ＲＥＱＵＩＥＭ〜
Scifi action fantasy
2010, colour, 3-D, 1.85:1, 97 mins
Directed by Amemiya Keita (雨宮慶太)
By Derek Elley
Fri, 28 May 2010, 03:44 AM (HKT)
Inventive 3-D effects and plenty of action compensate for a thin script and wooden characters. For fans of the Japanese TV series, plus fantasy enthusiasts on ancillary.
Japan, present day. Evil, shape-shifting figures from the Makai Realm break out through a time portal and start consuming human beings. Leading the fight against them are the valorous Makai Knights, among whom is Saejima Koga (Konishi Ryosei), who can magically sheathe his body entirely in golden armour. In the fight against super-monster Kalma (Kasahara Shinji) and his female assistant Shion (Eguchi Hiromi), Koga is joined by Makai priestess Rekka (Mary Matsuyama), looking to avenge her father's death, as well as veteran warrior Akaza (Saito Yosuke) and his apprentice Shiguto (Kuranuki Masahiro).
This 3-D movie spin-off — with original star KONISHI Ryosei 小西遼生, plus director AMEMIYA Keita 雨宮慶太 and action choreographer YOKOYAMA Makoto 横山誠 back for more — is way better produced than Tohokushinsha's original late-night TV series (broadcast in 25x30-minute segments during 2005-06). But the producers seem to have forgotten that a feature film requires a slightly more logical script, as well as better-drawn characters. Fortunately, the film is almost wall-to-wall fighting, and the visual effects by Tohokushinsha subsidiary Omnibus Japan are generally good enough to divert attention from the script's weaknesses — especially when our hero Koga morphs into the golden-armour-suited Garo. However, when the characters aren't fighting, and just stand around mouthing lines of dialogue, the movie almost grinds to a halt.
Like the original latenight series, the overall tone shifts back and forth from adult (topless babes, etc.) to juvenile (Koga's talking ring), with a cast full of bikini models, including female lead Mary MATSUYAMA 松山メアリ. Not in the original TV series, Matsuyama's heroine is hardly less wooden than Konishi's hero — which makes for zero chemistry between them on screen — but as a former ballet student and rhythmic gymnast she at least adds some physical punch to the movie by doing most of her own stunts, as well as a workout in the men's dojo that's almost worth the price of a ticket on its own.
The often decorous use of 3-D is a big help in giving some visual originality to an otherwise standard action fantasy. Only in the final 15 minutes does Garo: Red Requiem 牙狼〈ＧＡＲＯ〉 〜ＲＥＤ ＲＥＱＵＩＥＭ〜 (2010) attempt to take off into the realm of heroic myth, as Matsuyama's Rekka summons the spirits of fallen heroes, but the moment soon passes in favour of less elevated superhero stuff.
ContactSales: Tohokushinsha Film (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Premiere: Cannes Film Festival (Market), 12 May 2010. Theatrical release: Japan, 30 Oct 2010.
Presented and produced by Tohokushinsha Film (JP), in association with Omnibus Japan, Sansei R&D, AAC Stunts, Crowd. Executive producer: Ninomiya Kiyotaka. Producer: Yoshida Kentaro.
Script: Era Itaru, Amemiya Keita. Art director: Taguchi Kei. Costumes: JAP Inc. Action: Yokoyama Makoto. Special effects: GaRP. Visual effects: Kosaka Ichijun (Omnibus Japan), Sakota Kenji, Nakagawa Shigeyuki.
Cast: Konishi Ryosei (Saejima Koga/Garo), Mary Matsuyama (Rekka), Saito Yosuke (Akaza), Kuranuki Masahiro (Shiguto), Kasahara Shinji (Kalma), Eguchi Hiromi (Shion), Hara Saori, Tokito Ami, Kageyama Hironobu (voice of Zaruba, Saejima's talking ring), Tsuda Kanji (Kengi), Nakao Akira (Kurusu Kenichi).