Contact

Sales: Nikkatsu, Tokyo (sasakura@nikkatsu.co.jp, t-hirayama@nikkatsu.co.jp)

Credits

Premiere: Rotterdam Film Festival (Spectrum), 28 Jan 2011. Theatrical release: Japan, 15 Oct 2011.

Presented by Zaborgar Film Partners (JP), Nikkatsu (JP). Produced by Something Creation (JP). Executive producer: Otsuki Toshimichi. Producers: Ikeda Shinichi, Chiba Yoshinori.

Script: Iguchi Noboru. TV series: P-production (Denjin Zaborger/Electroid Zaborger 7, 1974, 52 episodes). Photography: Nagano Yasutaka. Editing: Wada Takeshi. Music: Kikuchi Shunsuke. Music direction: Fukuda Yasuhiko. Production design: Fukuda Nori. Sound: Eguchi Yasushi, Yoshida Noriyoshi. Action: Karasawa Isao. Character design: P-production, Nishimura Yoshihiro. Special make-up: Nishimura Yoshihiro. Visual effects: Kazuno Tsuyoshi.

Cast: Itao Itsuji (Daimon Yutaka, old), Furuhara Yasuhisa (Daimon Yutaka, young), Yamasaki Mami (Miss Borg), Miyashita Yuya (Akitsuki Gen), Satsukawa Aimi (Akiko), Kinoshita Hoka (Wakasugi), Watanabe Hiroyuki (Chief Inspector Nitta), Takenaka Naoto (Dr. Daimon, Yutaka's father), Emoto Akira (Dr. Akunomiya), Shimazu Kentaro, Sato Sakichi, Asami, Izumi Cay, Murata Yui, Demo Tanaka, Kishi Kentaro.


8

Karate-Robo Zaborgar 電人ザボーガー

Japan
Sci-fi fantasy
2010, colour, 2.35:1, 101 mins

Directed by Iguchi Noboru (井口昇)


Karate-Robo Zaborgar

By Derek Elley

Wed, 13 July 2011, 18:48 PM (HKT)


Hugely entertaining, pitch-perfect tribute to a cheesy '70s TV series. Genre and Asian events, plus ancillary.

Story

Tokyo, 25 years ago. When the city's Diet building is attacked by cyborg organisation Sigma — looking to kidnap prominent humans to extract their DNA — the attempt is foiled by young secret agent Daimon Yutaka (Furuhara Yasuhisa) and his robot Zaborgar. Chief Sigma operative Miss Borg (Yamasaki Mami) escapes back to the organisation's spaceship-fortress. Chapter 1: Fight! Karate-Robo Zaborgar! Borg and Sigma leader Dr. Akunomiya (Emoto Akira), are creating a giant android, Jumbo Mecha, by using the DNA of 10,000 humans and the substance Daimonium, which can change anything into robots. Akunomiya stole the Daimonium from its creator, Yutaka's father Dr. Daimon (Takenaka Naoto), whom he then killed. Since then, Yutaka has vowed revenge. Miss Borg next attempts to kidnap a government minister, Wakasugi (Kinoshita Houka), but is again foiled by Yutaka, with whom she falls in love and spends a night in a seaside cave. Doubting Miss Borg's loyalty, Akunomiya creates three cheerleader cyborgs to accompany her everywhere, but on her next kidnapping mission the conflicted Miss Borg is blown to bits. Chapter 2: Hang in There, Daimon! Adrift on the Sea of Life! Twenty-five years later, Yutaka (Itao Itsuji) is working as a driver for Wakasugi, now prime minister, who sacks him. He meets old secret-agent friends, led by former Chief Inspector Nitta (Watanabe Hiroyuki), who have formed the League of Smiles club. Meanwhile, Sigma's project to create Jumbo Mecha is almost finished, and Akunomiya has a new aide, young Akitsuki Gen (Miyashita Yuya) and a half-human cyborg warrior, Akiko (Satsukawa Aimi). Feeling the pull of her human side, Akiko escapes and tracks down her father — none less than Yutaka, who fathered her in the cave with Miss Borg. But Akunomiya has big plans for Akiko in his plan to destroy the human race.


Review

The bar for Nikkatsu's whole Sushi Typhoon series is raised to a new level by its fifth entry, the hugely entertaining Karate-Robo Zaborgar 電人ザボーガー (2010), a pitch-perfect tribute to a cheesy 1974 TV series (variously known as Denjin Zaborger or _ Electroid Zaborger 7) about a hero and his motorbike-cum-robot battling an evil scientist who killed his father. The first of the Sushi Typhoon series made in widescreen and not aimed at splatter fans, it's a retro treat for anyone into Asian productions of the late '60s/early '70s featuring men in monster suits and women in sexy sci-fi attire, and is undoubtedly the best movie that AV director-turned-mainstreamer <span class="nameintl">IGUCHI Noboru 井口昇 (The Machine Girl 片腕マシンガール (2007), The Ancient Dogoo Girl 古代少女ドグちゃん (2009)) has put his name to.

Noboru has taken the basic thrust of the series' first 39 episodes, wrapped it round a bigger story, and then added a new development — after a cheeky "To Be Continued" firebreak — that's set 25 years later. Though Zaborgar is faithfully recreated (with a few tweaks), the movie isn't a slavish tribute to the '70s, but exactly catches its spirit — from motorbike chases to ingenuous dialogue. And with modern-day visual effects zipping up moments such as Zaborger's morphs from motorbike to robot, it has an appeal for contemporary audiences without losing the original's innocence.

As young hero Daimon Yutaka, FURUHARA Yasuhisa 古原靖久 makes an acceptable version of the series' original star, YAMAGUCHI Akira 山口暁, while YAMAZAKI Mami 山崎真実 makes a much sexier and more interesting villainess, Miss Borg, than her 1974 counterpart. But it's veteran EMOTO Akira 柄本明 who scores most points as the evil Dr. Akunomiya, bent on world domination — a role that even ITAO Itsuji 板尾創路, as the older Daimon in the second half, can't match in screen clout.

With bouncy music and tight editing, the movie maintains a lively pace in the first hour and sustains the basic joke. Just when it seems there's nowhere else to go in this particular cul-de-sac, Noboru completely reinvents the film in its second half, with a now middle-aged hero and a giant half-human daughter who sets out to destroy Tokyo like an old Toho movie. With its attention to detail, sense of glee, and continual invention — from cheerleader robots to ever-smiling middle-aged losers — Karate-Robo Zaborgar is genre nostalgia at its best.


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