Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla I (1974)
The proud nation of Japan has produced some wonderful works of artistic skill over the last 30 years, many of which I can vouch for first-hand. I have experienced the seamless melding of performance and luxury in the Lexus GS-400, the outstanding quality and value of Sony Wega HD television, the quirky rockin' tunes of the girl group the Six-Seven-Eight-Nines, even some really good Teriyaki noodles in the frozen food section of Wal-Mart. Yes, indeed, Japan is home to many of the world's finest artisans and craftsmen, whose unique blend of quality and attention to detail is second to none. However, none of these people had anything to do with the steaming pile that is Godzilla versus MechaGodzilla I. Many people I've talked to rate this movie as the best of the 1970s Godzilla series. These people are obviously all hooked on crank.
While first released in Japan in early 1974, this movie didn't make it to America until 1977, horribly staining Jimmy Carter's term in office, and perhaps influencing his decision to move back to rural Georgia where they don't have movie theaters. The first American television version was called Godzilla vs. the Bionic Monster, but this title was quickly dropped when Universal Studios, responsible for both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, threatened to sue over the title. The movie was quickly re-titled Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster, and later video re-releases used the newer Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla I name, and it's this last name under which I'll review it. (There are actually two series movies by this title. I'll call this 1974 Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla I and the 1993 Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II in my reviews so as not to confuse anyone, ok?)
This movie, which celebrated Godzilla's 20th birthday, is all about the swingin' 1970s. The fashions, the hair, the music, the cars, and the cinematic techniques are so firmly mired in the early '70s that you'll think you've entered a polyester and shag time warp. Other elements of the presentation are equally bad, the English dubbing is awful and seems muffled and hard to hear half the time, much of the camera motion is early Blair Witch Project-bouncy, and the music is a blend of classic Godzilla marches and goofy porn movie mixes. Oh my, this will be a fun ride for us all.
And now on to our movie...
We open on the island of Okinawa. A good portion of the movie will take place on Okinawa, and I believe this was to cut production costs, and to have a place to stage the big ending battle without having to build expensive city sets.
We first meet the Shimizu brothers, Masahiko and Keisuke, two mainland Japanese men living and working on Okinawa. The parallels between them and Joey and Chandler on Friends will become apparent and, rather than sticking to their confusing Japanese names, I'll use "Joey" and "Chandler" in this review to help you keep track of who is who.
Older brother Chandler (Keisuke) is a thirtysomething respectable working man, a construction foreman of some sort who wears subdued suits and ties and his hair is neat and trimmed short. He's played by Masaaki Diamon, who, other than appearing in Terror of MechaGodzilla in 1975, had little other work in the film industry after this movie. Maybe this movie killed his career?
Younger brother Joey (Masahiko) is a twentysomething David Cassidy-lookalike with a shaggy mop hairdo and bright, trendy clothes. The chicks must love him, although he's apparently a freeloader without any ambition or a job. He's played by Kazuya Aoyama, who also starred in Toho's Ultraman rip-off TV series Zone Fighter.
The brothers are visiting a local shrine where the remnants of the ancient Azumi royal family live. Along with some other tourists, they watch a young woman in a traditional costume do a funky little dance for the cameras. This is probably a lot like going to colonial Williamsburg and watching the historical reinactors make lye soap and shoot blackpowder...well, it's close. If you think about it, it's really sad that the "royal family" of Okinawa is reduced to pandering to tourists and begging for handouts.
The dancing girl (soon to be identified as an "Azumi prophetess") is kinda cute but less so the more you look at her. She's played 23-year old Korean actress Beru-Bera Lin (though she is credited here as "Barbara Lynn"). Lin was known as the "Marlene Dietrich of Asia" due to some controversial films that depicted bisexuality and homosexual overtones that she made when she was a teenager. Sadly, there are no lesbian Asian girl porn scenes in our movie...
The Azumi Prophetess.
Suddenly she goes spastic and falls down! We see in "Psychic View" that she's having visions consisting of stock footage of monsters destroying stock footage cities and stuff. A terribly ancient guy complete with stringy white hair and beard (her grandfather) runs up and tries to comfort her. He looks just like the old mute hermit in Monty Python's The Life of Brian--only with clothes. The prophetess starts babbling on about a monster that will "set fire to the city and trample on the people who try and run away (like the audience in about an hour)."
The Old Man.
After this, the brothers leave, their heads full of spooky foreshadowing. They jump in Chandler's classy hardtop Willys Jeep and zip off. Chandler is now wearing a silly white construction-zone hard hat, though why he feels the need to wear the helmet when driving to the work site is beyond me.
I should note here that with the very first spoken sentence of the movie, we're painfully aware of just how screamingly bad the English dubbing will be. At times it seems as if the dubbers were ad-libbing it, just making up dialogue as they went along, and often seem to be overacting more than normal for this sort of film. The accents are thick and often clearly Australian (!), and virtually no one's voice matches their physical appearance in any way. [Editor Pam: Chandler and Joey's accents don't match. Chandler sounds Australian, and Joey sounds American. It's odd, since they're supposed to be brothers.]
Anyway, Chandler drops Joey off at a big cave on his way to work. Why Joey would want to go spelunking is never explained, he certainly isn't dressed for it. The cave is open and airy, but strangely well-lit (perhaps it's that blue-lensed klieg-light visible behind that stalactite?). In the cave Joey happens upon a small piece of shiny metal about the size of a cigarette lighter. Keep track of this.
Joey goes spelunking.
Back to Chandler, now arriving at his worksite. Apparently, his workers have been digging into a mountain and have uncovered a hidden cavern. Inside is some spiritualistic prehistoric paintings and a small alcove with a stone statue set in it. The statue is about the size of a house cat and is of King Seesar (more later), a semi-mythical local god that looks like a lion crossed with a dog. A media circus soon erupts around the site, archaeological finds in Okinawa are big news, which is not surprising considering how obsessed they are with ancestors and history. In most parts of America there are laws that say that if something culturally important is unearthed in a building project, experts have to be called in before the work can progress, and it seems that in Japan the same thing applies.
Anyway, a stunningly cute young woman with a camera bag tries to enter the cave but is stopped by a worker who says that "reporters have to stay outside". She laughs a sweet laugh that would make a monk reevaluate his vows and says that she's not a reporter, but the "investigator from the archeology department at Okinawa's Shuri University". The worker is stunned (a chick with authority!) and even looks her up-and-down (a really hot chick with authority!). This Medieval view of womens' roles in society is sadly typical of the Godzilla movies, but it still makes me cringe every time I see it on screen. Her name is Saeko, and she's played by a 25-year old Reiko Tajima.
Saeko quickly interprets the cave art as a prophecy about avenging monsters, left here by the ancient peoples of Okinawa. She confirms to Chandler (and us) that the statue indeed represents King Seesar, a mythical monster that helped protect Okinawa from invasion long ago (where was he in 1945, eh?).
We now jump ahead to the aforementioned Shuri University and to Saeko's office, where she's deciphering the wording of the prophecy from the notes and photos she took. When decoded, it says "When a black mountain appears in the sky, a monster will come and try to take over the world. When the sun rises in the west, two monsters will appear, to try and save the people." Sounds like a movie plot if I ever heard one!
While she writes, the door to her office slowly opens a crack. A Japanese man with an atrocious haircut and wide mustache peeks his head in. He looks just like Charles Bronson from all those bad 1970s action movies, so I'll call him "Charles Bronson". Before he can approach Saeko, he hears someone coming and runs away.
Who is coming is a tall man dressed all in black--black trenchcoat, black boots, black hair, black shades, black everything (he looks just like Neo there at the end of The Matrix when he was rescuing Morpheus). He also peeks in at Saeko, but does not disturb her. For the purposes of helping you sort all these characters out, I'll refer to him as "Neo" for the balance of this review (he even looks a bit like Keanu). Neo is played by 35-year old Shin Kishida, a dark and violent looking actor who, while this was his only Godzilla movie, had already gained fame for several horror roles that gave him the nickname "The Japanese Dracula".
That confusing and James Bondish moment over, we now cut to a Boeing 707 airliner taking off from Okinawa, bound for Tokyo. By some amazing and convenient coincidence, both Chandler and Saeko are on this plane, though neither knew it before take-off. Chandler is going on vacation back home and Saeko is bringing the statue to Tokyo University to see famed archaeologist Doctor Wagura.
They're soon interrupted by the man in the seat ahead of her, who turns around so we can see it's Neo!!! He introduces himself to them as a freelance reporter and a "scandal hunter" who is also interested in the statue. For the rest of the flight they apparently don't talk to each other again, which is really weird considering that he's obviously following them and knows a whole lot about Saeko and her work.
A commotion in the cabin brings everyone's attention to the windows. Off the starboard wing they can see a bad matte painting of a cloud formation that looks strikingly like a huge, towering black mountain in the sky. Saeko breathlessly repeats the part of the prophecy to Chandler about the black mountain bringing a monster to destroy the world. At this, Chandler remembers back to the Azumi princess' vision (brought to us in a cool 1970s disco split-screen flashback). No explanation is ever offered for this freak weather pattern, and it's never mentioned again.
The ominous black cloud.
Once in Tokyo, we find out through some cute comical means that Dr. Wagura is actually Chandler's uncle!!! Wow, imagine the odds!!! I really hate it when everyone in a movie is related in some forced six-degrees-of-separation way. Doctor Wagura is played by 45-year old Hiroshi Koizumi, a popular science fiction actor who specialized in professor/doctor/scientist roles throughout his long association with Toho Studios.
Chandler, Saeko and the good doctor all discuss the statue and what the prophecy might mean for Japan. Wagura mentions that Joey is also back in Japan, having brought the small metal piece he found in the cave to Professor Miyajima for analysis. It seems that Joey and Chandler are rather well-connected with the scientific community in Japan, pretty convenient, wouldn't you say?
Oddly, Chandler seems surprised to hear Joey is also back in Japan. So his own brother leaves Okinawa without even telling him? But not before he calls his uncle to tell him the whole story? And why would he fly all the way back to Japan to have the metal analyzed? There are labs in Okinawa, aren't there? And why would he even think that a shiny piece of metal he found in a cave was important enough to fly all the way back to Japan? Air travel in 1974 was pretty pricey, maybe freeloading Joey has got some cash hidden away, eh?
We cut now to the "Miyajima Laboratory", where Joey (now in a nifty Charlie Brown-esque sweater) has indeed brought the metal to Professor Miyajima. Professor Miyajima is played by Akihiko Hirata, best known for being Doctor Serizawa in 1954's Godzilla. The professor announces that it's "space titanium from outer space". What the hell, how would he even know what a metal from outer space looked like?
Just then the professor's hot daughter Eiko enters, causing my heart to jump and my loins to tingle. The lovely young Eiko is played by Hiromi Matsushita, and like several others of our cast, this is the only movie listed for her on the IMDB. Perhaps it killed her career like the rest? Before she can speak, however, a quick earthquake tremor rattles the lab. Glass and ceramics fall from cabinets and off of shelves to shatter on the floor. As it subsides, Eiko notes that there has been a tremor "every day for the last ten days". Ok, then why do they keep putting everything breakable back on the shelves? You'd think that smart people like scientists would plan ahead.
We now cut back to Dr. Wagura's house, upstairs where Chandler is reading a magazine in bed. A radio playing in the background says "SONY" on the front (is it strange that consumer electronics made in Japan and sold domestically would have the brand name in English?). As well, the magazine's title (Domino) is in English. Is Chandler an Anglophile?
The radio announcer is talking about the "magnitude two earthquake that day with the epicenter near Cape Nemuro in Hokkaido, and the epicenter has moved southward, confusing scientists". He then adds that some people think this recent series of tremors is a sign that "something living" is moving underground. Well, ok, I guess in a nation that has seen a lot of monster attacks, this is a pretty good conclusion to jump to. If the day's quake was centered up in the corner of Hokkaido, does this mean that Miyajima's lab is on Hokkaido, too? It can't be, because later it's clearly in the Tokyo area. Would a smallish (magnitude two) tremor with an epicenter that far away really affect Tokyo that much? I think not.
We zip back downstairs where Wagura and Saeko are staying up late, still studying the statue and the photos of the wall art. I'll cheat a bit here and clue you in on something that they're going to find out soon anyway. The writing on the statue is an instruction manual of sorts. It says that when "the red moon sets and the sun rises in the west", they can then place the statue on the altar of Azumi Castle to wake up the beast King Seesar (though it's not said why they would want to do this). More later. Wagura then asks Saeko to get him a cup of coffee. In his own house! Of a fellow professional archaeologist! And she says "sure" and does it!!! Man, sucked to be a woman in Japan in the 1970s.
"Yes, we respect your intelligence and your education. Now go make us some sandwiches."
Anyway, just then a man bursts in the window, brandishing a pistol with a silencer. It's Charles Bronson!!! (remember, from when he peeked in on Saeko back in Okinawa?) Bronson demands the statue and then gets into a brawl with Chandler, who rushes downstairs at the sound of the commotion. Now, this is indeed the lamest fistfight in the history of film, shot with a bouncy camera and confusing editing cuts, by two pudgy actors trying to be ninjas. Bronson, presumably a trained killer/thief/assassin/whatever is nearly bested by WASPish engineer Chandler. Saeko takes the statue and runs (smart girl), but Wagura just stands there being helpless.
On countless occasions, Wagura has openings to smack Bronson on the head with something heavy as he wrestles on the floor with Chandler, but he just stands there. Even when Bronson loses his gun and Wagura picks it up, he does nothing with it. Shoot him!!! Chandler takes quite a beating here, I counted at least thirteen solid hits to the face. Wagura, shoot him!!! Finally, Bronson breaks free and dashes out the window, running right past Wagura with the gun. Dammit, shoot him!!! Arg, you worthless piece of iguana crap!!!
Bronson escapes, though Chandler, Wagura and Saeko chase him out into the street. Hey, Saeko has the statue in her arms! She carried it out into the street, making her an easy target? Anyway, all this is watched from a distance by Neo, puffing on a cig, looking all bad-ass in his Keanu Reeves shades.
Ok, we now cut to later that night and some mountain exploding with random booms and flashy pyrotechnics. What looks like a rock sails by in the sky, accompanied by the standard "whirring" noise that all UFOs have in low-budget movies. It hits the ground and explodes (???) and from the debris rises Godzilla (!!!). Ok, all that on film was horribly confusing so I had to go to the literature to find out what the heck just happened. Apparently, that was Mount Fuji exploding (who knew?) and Godzilla was encased in that flying rock (who knew?) before busting out of it (who knew?). Sure. The big lizard starts to make his way downhill towards Tokyo, with some serious urban stomping in mind. In case you haven't guessed yet by this Godzilla's strangely high-pitched roar, this is not the "real" Godzilla. More evidence to follow.
Apparently Professor Miyajima's lab is just a few miles from Mount Fuji, because we now see him and Joey out on the balcony pointing and staring at Godzilla as he comes into view. Also, it's clearly day time (the pink dawn sky was just seen behind Godzilla) but Joey is wearing the same clothes. This obviously means that Joey spent the night with the professor and his hot daughter! You go, man!
Back at Wagura's house, the doctor and Saeko watch the rampaging monster on TV and conclude that Godzilla is in fact the destroying force from the prophecy. Saeko shakes her head sadly and laments, "I never would have guessed that the monster could be Godzilla." This statement, more than any other, highlights the differences between the evil, city-stomping Godzilla of the 1950s and 60s and the kid-friendly, protector of Japan Godzilla of the 1970s.
Chandler is worried about his brother Joey, who he somehow knows is still at Miyajima's (Maybe he could just telephone over there?) and says he's going to Mount Fuji to find him. By the way, despite being beaten up badly the night before, Chandler shows no bruises or cuts at all.
We now cut away back to Okinawa where the crusty old grandfather and the young princess have heard about Godzilla coming to town. The old man goes on this long diatribe about how mainland Japan deserves to be trashed because of the way the Okinawians have been mistreated by them. I wonder how this sentiment played in mainland Japanese theatres in 1974, did it make them feel guilty or just confused? Is this the same thing that we are supposed to feel when movies remind us how our ancestors mistreated the American Indians?
Anyway, back to our "pseudo-Godzilla" marching on Tokyo. Man, that suit looks bad. The eyes look painted-on and the dorsal plates flop like half-inflated pool toys. First up on the menu is a big hotel-looking building, which he just smashes up with particular vigor and malice. This is definitely not the kindly Godzilla of Godzilla vs. Megalon.
As he continues on towards the city proper, the ground ahead begins to buckle. Focused on destruction, oh-so-not-Godzilla doesn't see it until it's too late, tripping and falling as the earth beneath him gives way. Out pops Anguirus, shaking off the dirt and howling with rage. Every time I see this monster I have to laugh, he just looks so painfully fake. Anguirus is said to be a distant cousin of the Ankylosaurus, and was previously an ally of Godzilla as recently as 1972's Godzilla Vs. Gigan.
Though it's never said, I assume that the tremors of the last ten days were indeed caused by Anguirus moving underground. One wonders where he was going, because the fact that he's here in fake-Godzilla's path seems a little too convenient.
Either Anguirus knows something we don't (snicker), or apparently there has been some type of falling out between the two since they last battled Gigan and Ghidorah as friends. Did Godzilla steal his girlfriend, insult his mother, stiff him for a dinner check? Whatever the reason, seconds after emerging from the ground, Anguirus jumps at the lizard, though he gets kicked away for his efforts. Anguirus flies through the air to crash into a bridge, making us marvel that a 33,000 ton animal can be kicked so far.
As they square up again, here's the tale of the tape:
Height: 200 feet
Length: 328 feet
Weight: 33,000 tons
Weapons: Lots of spikes, pointy teeth, defensive lineman stance.
Godzilla (or is it? hehehe)
Height: 164 feet
Weight: 20,000 tons
Weapons: Atomic Fire Breath, whip-lash tail, attitude to match.
As the music score turns jaunty like a cheap Sunday night Samurai-movie, Anguirus leaps at Godzilla again, this time connecting with his right shoulder, gashing off some skin. A patch of gleaming metal is revealed in the wound! Ahah! I knew it, this isn't the real Godzilla! I think I'll refer to him from now on as...hmm, oh, I don't know, how about "MechaGodzilla"? Yeah, that'll do. MechaGodzilla then strikes this ridiculous kung-fu pose which just looks dumber than dumb. They charge at each other again, grappling like sumos. Using his height advantage, MechaGodzilla gets the upper hand, smacking Anguirus on the top the head four times before kicking him in the ribs. That's got to hurt.
Stunned and prone, Angiurus is powerless to stop MechaGodzilla from grabbing his tail, lifting him up off the ground, and smacking him back down like a rag doll. I can only imagine the enormous expenditure of force and leverage required to lift Anguirus by his tail like that, clearly the laws of physics are being ignored here. MechaGodzilla then literally "dusts himself off" (!!!) and grabs Anguirus' tail again. He smacks him on the ground five more times, until Anguirus is dazed and hurtin' real bad.
MechaGodzilla breaks his jaw!
MechaGodzilla then straddles him and grabs his jaws and pulls them apart as Anguirus' tongue flaps in a nice touch. This vicious wrestling move breaks Anguirus' jaw and blood spews all over the ground. The blood is lava-orange and thick like jelly and stains MechaGodzilla's hands. Regaining some strength, Anguirus scuttles away to burrow back beneath the ground, his ripped-up jaw dragging the in the dirt. He will never be seen again in the Godzilla series (though there was some aborted talk of bringing the monster back in the 1990s). MechaGodzilla roars his strange roar and heads back downhill. Hey! Where did the blood on his hands go?!?! Must have had a wet-wipe in his pocket.
Meanwhile, Chandler is driving along the mountain roads, presumably heading for Miyajima's lab to save his brother Joey. He's driving a great Nissan Skyline coupe painted a sickly, bright orange. Is it his or his uncles'?
1972 Nissan Skyline GT.
His road is soon blocked by a landslide, presumably caused by the monster fight. As he attempts to clear it by hand (good luck!) he notices a brick of shiny metal in the debris. By brick, I mean brick. It literally looks like a brick spray-painted silver.
He apparently finds a short cut, because in the next scene Chandler is at the professor's lab where the scientist identifies the brick as space titanium, just like the chip that Joey found. Miyajima hands Chandler the chip and the brick, he looks at them both for two seconds and then says, "You're right, it is the same metal." Right, and you can tell that with a glance. Got an "A" in Exo-Geological 101, did you, Chandler?
Miyajima wants to go get a closer look at Godzilla, who is still raging in Tokyo. As they leave, he introduces us to his "special smoking pipe". For some reason he has invented a pipe that when separated into two pieces, causes "magnetic waves to develop that will destroy the positive and negative electrodes". Why the hell would anyone build such a device? Unless you are Q, that is, and 007 needs a nifty gadget to escape from Blofeld's prison. Not exactly the sort of thing I'd be sticking in my mouth. BTW, a close-up shows us that the pipe has the initials "H.M." on the bottom (this will come into play later). The letters are in English, so I guess this close-up was re-shot for the American version?
Ok, so Miyajima, his hot daughter Eiko, Joey and Chandler all pile into Chandler's orange Skyline and zip over to where Godzilla is about to smash up an oil refinery. Apparently there are no road blocks, police or army units around to keep civilians from wandering into a battle zone. It's now fully night time, so we're forced to wonder what has been going on in the many hours since the dawn fight between Anguirus and our imposter? Perhaps it took that long for them to make their way down to where the action was? Maybe MechaGodzilla stopped at a ramen bar, had a few Fosters, got caught up watching the cricket matches on TV and lost track of time until his wife called and told him to get to work NOW!!!
As they pull up, MechaGodzilla is having a grand time kicking up the refinery, blasting away with his Atomic Fire Breath (which is bright yellow, again marking him as fake) and wading through the impressive resulting explosions. This is indeed one of the better refinery-stomping scenes in the whole Godzilla series, with enough gas-fueled explosions to make Michael Bey weep. The refinery is on the shores of Tokyo Bay and the flames are reflected in the dark waters of the bay, a very neat effect.
Oh, that's NOT Godzilla.
A warehouse suddenly explodes upwards, and out of the smoke rises...another Godzilla!!! This one belts out our beloved roar, signaling that he is the one true Godzilla. While this is an exciting entrance, it makes us wonder what he was doing under the ground in the first place. Where did he come from, how long had he been underground? Maybe it was he, and not Anguirus, that was causing the earthquakes?
Anyway, MechaGodzilla and Godzilla square off in the flaming ruins of the refinery. MechaGodzilla wastes no time on introductions, shooting off a yellow Atomic Fire Breath at Godzilla that barely misses to the right.
We leave Tokyo now to go to the Okinawa control center of the "alien race" that's controlling MechaGodzilla. The HQ is a barebones set with the look of a 1940s Flash Gordon serial, decorated with simple plastic panels and sparse furniture. There are flashing lights and switches everywhere, as you might expect, and the monster action is viewed on several large monitors. The aliens look just like Japanese men with bad 1970s hair and silver jumpsuits, they will prove to possess neither superpowers nor great intellect.
It's here that we meet the Evil Alien Commander (he's not given any other name) who's masterminding this whole fake Godzilla plot. He's played by Goro Mutsu, a 40-year old actor with a penchant for cigars and bad sunglasses. The instant you first see him, you will be struck at how similar he looks to George Takai, Star Trek's Mister Sulu. For that reason, he will be "Mister Sulu" for the rest of this review. Mutsu returned in Terror of MechaGodzilla playing another similar alien leader. [Editor Pam: What is that funny dark spot on the left side of his head? At first I thought it was a shadow, but it was in the same place in all of his scenes, no matter what the lighting was like. None of the other aliens have anything like it.]
In the interests of clarity, I'm going to cheat here and give you some information that you won't get until later in the film. MechaGodzilla was built by the "Simeons", a race of aliens from the "third planet of the black hole". Apparently their solar system is being "pulled into the black hole" and they're out looking for somewhere else to set up home. Earth is their choice but they have to eliminate Godzilla first so the puny humans can be pushed around. To this end, they have "studied Godzilla for many years", and decided to create their own mechanized version to both defeat him and then to take over the world.
If this sounds familiar, it's because the same basic plot line has been used in the last few movies before this one. In both Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon, aliens disguised as humans were controlling monsters in much the same fashion. Instead of badly-realized cockroaches, however, whenever the Simeons suffer some type of injury, that part of the body reveals its real form, which is a cheap ape suit. The Planet of the Apes franchise was very popular in America during the early 1970s (the fourth sequel being released the same year as our film) and Toho was looking to cash in on that by making the aliens intelligent apes masquerading as humans.
The control room for the aliens.
Back to the action now. Facing off again in the ruins of the refinery, the two beasts bump chests and then Godzilla knocks a radio tower into MechaGodzilla. As the flames billow up around them from the raging fires, they grapple again. Godzilla misses with a roundhouse right, but connects with a quick elbow snapped back. Another hunk of skin is torn from MechaGodzilla's left shoulder, revealing more shiny metal. They separate again, and Godzilla notices the patch of metal. Godzilla cocks his head to one side as if he's doing a vaudeville double-take and says, "What the...?". He then heats up his spines and shoots two strong Atomic Fire Breaths (in familiar glowing blue) into MechaGodzilla's stomach, ripping off more fake skin.
The gig is up now, and the aliens back at HQ flip a switch and burn off the rest of the fake skin, revealing MechaGodzilla in its true form. Even I have to admit that MechaGodzilla just looks damn cool here. All shiny metal (that space titanium again), with pronounced rivets, bellows at the joints and an array of missile and beam weapons, MechaGodzilla is one bad mutha. His weaponry includes eight fingertip-launched missiles (four per hand), six toe-launched missiles (three per foot), a powerful attack beam from his chest, maser beams emitted from his eyes, as well as the ability to fly at high speeds and form a protective force field by spinning his head (!!!). Cool! MechaGodzilla is listed as being 164-feet tall (same as Godzilla) and a whopping 44,000-tons heavy (more than twice that of Godzilla). On paper, this looks like a terribly unfair fight, with all his weapons and technology, MechaGodzilla should mop the floor with Godzilla. We'll just have to see if Godzilla's moxie and attitude can win the day. [Editor Pam: As the camera pans up Mechagodzilla, we see the letters "MG" on him. It's not clear just where they're located, although that belt-buckle-like thing at his waist seems likely, and since the letters aren't seen again, I think they must have been added at this point in the American version only.]
If I may digress, one does has to wonder about the fingertip missiles, however. The warhead is clearly larger than the diameter of the barrel, making them look like a Russian RPG or a German Panzerfaust. So how are they reloaded? And were they unloaded when the fake skin was on, because his fingers didn't look any longer or wider when his skin was on. I hate this movie. One also has to wonder about the yellow fire breath from before. It's never seen again, though it seemed to be an extremely powerful weapon. MechaGodzilla's mouth shows no sign of a barrel or vent for that fire breath, so we wonder where it came from. As well, when in disguise MechaGodzilla's dorsal plates heated up just like the real Godzilla's do when it fired. Why didn't anyone connected with the editing process notice this at the time? I know it looks cool to have MechaGodzilla shoot a different color flame, but it defies explanation.
Back to the Okinawa base now. The remote controls that run MechaGodzilla from here are laughably simplistic. There are no joysticks, no wheels, no levers, no touch screens, no keyboards or mice. Just dozens of seemingly unlabeled, flip-switches mated to either a green or red light. There is apparently a switch for "Strike a stupid ninja pose", because that's what we see happen repeatedly.
The green one shows the cheese-factor level.
With the flip of another random unmarked switch, MechaGodzilla now shoots off eight of his fingertip missiles. Since we see an insert shot of the left hand firing four, then another shot of the left hand firing four, either he's holding the right hand in reserve or they just re-used the footage. And again, there is no way to reload the missiles unless they have collapsible warheads, but that makes no sense whatsoever. At least one of the missiles smacks Godzilla in the left shoulder, knocking him on his butt. This is the only visible hit on him, so I guess the other seven missed, despite the short range.
While Godzilla struggles on the ground, MechaGodzilla clanks up and from his eyes fires twin maser beams of rainbow-colored light. Godzilla barely rolls out of the way as the beams stab into the ground. On his feet again, Godzilla fires off an Atomic Fire Breath at the same time MechaGodzilla shoots his maser eyes a second time. The two energy weapons meet in the middle and explode in a thunderous fireball. I guess whatever energy source powered the masers reacted with Godzilla's plasma breath to explode with tremendous force? [Editor Pam: No doubt. I'm sure a thesis could be written on the physics and chemistry underlying this reaction...]
MechaGodzilla's eye beams.
The concussive force tosses Godzilla into the bay, where he sinks out of sight in the rolling, frothing water. Dark red blood boils up to show that Godzilla is hurt real bad. The blast also knocks MechaGodzilla over, and his "head controls are out of order" now (so says the alien technicians back in the control center). In reporting the damage to Mister Sulu, one of them calls him "Chief", which seems like an informal title for the Alien Commander.
Sulu orders that the machine be returned to the Okinawa base for repairs, and another random flip of an unmarked switch causes MechaGodzilla to fly off, rocket jets in the soles of his feet blasting. The amount of thrust and the fuel requirements to lift a 44,000-ton hunk of metal and fly it all the way to Okinawa are beyond the scope of measurement. There simply has to be a propellant working here that we don't yet know the properties of. The Internet literature quotes a speed of Mach 5 for MechaGodzilla in flight mode, though this is preposterous in light of the robot's singularly un-aerodynamic shape and huge dragging weight.
Following this, our heroes discuss what just happened. It's Professor Miyajima who names the machine "MechaGodzilla", though in a previous scene Mister Sulu calls it by that name also, which is just bad continuity. Miyajima also makes the intuitive leap that since the machine was made of space titanium, then it must be "remotely controlled by spacemen". Um, why remotely controlled, as far as you know it could have a full crew inside, or even be totally under its own control like the Terminator. But, hey, you're the scientist, so you must be right. He further says that he's going to Okinawa in the morning to see the cave where Joey found the chip in the beginning of the movie. Here, he's sure, he will find clues.
Cut back to the aliens' huge underground Okinawa base. MechaGodzilla is here undergoing repairs, standing up straight like an ICBM in a silo. Technicians with evil-looking goatees mill around fixing things. Swilling brandy, Mister Sulu watches the work on his monitors. One tech says to him, "Hey, these repairs are going to take a long time." "Hey"? That's pretty informal for a group of world-destroying aliens, don't you think? Is this the Dutch Army? Another tech says, "If we lose too much time, headquarters will discover our mistake." "Our mistake"? That they underestimated Godzilla? That they got the robot damaged? What's the mistake?
Sulu replies to all these negative reports, "Don't worry about it. We'll use an earthman who knows space technology." So, what, your robot doesn't come with an owner's manual? Didn't you guys build it? Why would a spaceman from a civilization technologically advanced enough to built MechaGodzilla and travel across the cosmos need to enlist a human for help? These are the lamest alien conquerors this side of Battlefield Earth.
Sulu then says "Tell Agent Number One to steal the statue of King Seesar. Now that they've solved the puzzle of the statue, the monster can wake up anytime. We'll be in trouble if King Seesar brings other monsters to life." What??? At no time have we heard about King Seesar's ability to rally other monsters, and what other monsters? And how does Sulu know that they've "solved the puzzle of the statue"?
We never know because we cut instantly to a cruise ship sailing the open sea. It's a smallish single-funnel ship, painted white with an orange sunburst on the side. We see that Saeko and Chandler are aboard, standing at the portside rail. Chandler says, "The spacemen will never guess we're taking the Queen Coral to Okinawa." To which Saeko replies, "We're outsmarting them this time."
Ok, what? How would or could they know that the spacemen are interested in them at this point of the movie? The whole "spaceman" idea is just a theory at this point. Why would they think that they would be interested in them or even know or care they're alive? Did they guess that the spacemen would be after the statue? If so, then how? And why do they assume that a race capable of crossing the galaxy and building a robot would not be able to track two people on a big, slow boat? And Saeko said that they were "outsmarting them this time", what does that mean? At this point in the movie, you've had no prior dealings with the spacemen (that they know of).
Sure enough, things get sneaky when we see that Neo is on the ship as well. He's still dressed in his black trenchcoat and turtleneck, aviator shades and puffing on a cigarette, so much for trying to remain sneaky.
Anyway, we now bounce back to Okinawa, back to the cave where Joey found the chip of Space Titanium from the beginning of the movie. Miyajima, his hot daughter Eiko and Joey are here, wandering through the strangely well-lit cave. I guess they weren't trying to "outsmart" the spacemen so they just took a plane from Japan. Miyajima, incidentally, is smoking his "special pipe" and is dressed like a RAF Flying Officer, while Joey I believe is wearing the same outfit he had on the day before. Eiko, for her part, is spelunking in high black go-go boots and a red plaid jacket with pronounced black horizontal stripes that could not possibly be flattering on any woman. She's also carrying a little black purse, and not one with a shoulder strap, but just a small handle, which has just got to be a pain to go caving with.
And for being so dumb, they're captured by the spacemen. If you haven't figured it out by now, the spacemen have their secret base in this very cave (imagine the odds!). When surprised, Miyajima drops his fancy pipe (remember this for later). They're led into the spacemen's base, which really looks like the basement of some office building, complete with cinder block walls, checkerboard tile floors and pipes along the walls. The set dressers have filled it with sciencey-looking workstations and banks of flashing lights to make it seem all spacemany and alien, but we are not impressed.
Brought into the "control room", the three humans are confronted by Mr. Sulu, who tells Miyajima that they "have been waiting for him". Umm, the good professor is here because he stumbled into their space-cave on his own volition, right? This is the man that the aliens needed desperately to fix their robot and instead of just kidnapping him they waited for him to come poking around their cave? What if he had decided to go to California instead? Perhaps the aliens were spying on him all the while and knew he was heading for the cave? Maybe, but this just seems pretty stupid on the aliens' part to let the crucial part of their plans for global domination just wander around the place.
Mr. Sulu introduces himself as "Commander for Conquest of Earth, from the Third Planet of the Black Hole, Outer Space", and his shiny spacesuit sure is impressive. Less impressive is the belt around his very ample stomach with the obvious ape-head buckle stolen directly from the Planet of the Apes prop mail order catalogue.
He then explains that MechaGodzilla is busted and they need Miyajima's "expertise that won him the Nobel Prize" to fix it up. He attempts to whet Miyajima's appetite by saying that their scientists created the robot after careful study of Godzilla (which again begs the question why they can't fix it themselves) but Miyajima doesn't bite. So, taking advantage of his daughter being there, Mr. Sulu orders Eiko and Joey dragged off to the "Execution Room" to blackmail him to agree to help them. At this, Miyajima concedes, but not before Mr. Sulu points this tiny little ray gun at him.
BTW, even though Miyajima can't be a day over 40 and seemingly physically fit, and Joey is a young kid in good shape, neither of them really resist too much when the aliens move to drag off Eiko. Her "father" doesn't put up much of a fight, even though there are only two alien guards there and he is much bigger than at least one of them. Hate to have him as my dad if someone tries to mug us.
Here's also a good place to complain about the sweating. Everyone in this movie, especially Miyajima seems to be sweating profusely in every scene and every setting. Here in the spaceman's lair, presumably far underground in a climate controlled environment, Miyajima is drenched in icky sweat. Movies are supposed to make their leading men look good, not like summer-help construction workers. [Editor Pam: I've seen unexplained sweatiness like this in other Toho movies. I think either a lot of their actors happened to have a problem with excessive sweating, or the studios were poorly air-conditioned and they didn't want to waste time stopping filming to wipe sweat off the actors' faces.]
Ok, now we cut back to the cruise ship Queen Coral to reconnect with Chandler and Saeko. It's dusk and they're at the railing looking out at the sea. Without any audio cue Saeko says that she just thought that she heard Godzilla (though her lip movements don't match the dialogue, suggesting that she said something completely different). Chandler didn't hear anything, as did we. In the immediate next scene, we see Godzilla, so I guess she somehow did hear Godzilla. Would it have hurt to have the editors foley in a little soft Godzilla sound into the last scene? And is Saeko supposed to have some supernatural ESP powers? Or was the island that we are about to see Godzilla on close enough to the shipping lanes so that he could have been heard? I think the American editors realized how rough the transition between these scenes was and inserted the bit about Saeko hearing Godzilla to smooth it out.
And so we have another Godzilla scene. It's dark, it's pouring buckets of rain, it's lightning like a mug, but other than that we can't tell a thing. I guess it's some island, or maybe not, but wherever it is, Godzilla is here. In a new twist we've never seen before, Godzilla suddenly becomes a lightning rod. In a few seconds he's smacked by at least 14 lighting bolts, which cause him to glow bluish in one of the lamest, cheesiest, most amateur special effects of all time. I had to go to the Internet fansites again to figure out what just happened. It seems Godzilla used the lightning to replenish his energy and heal his wounds from his fight with MechaGodzilla. Does this seem right?
Godzilla glowing blue!
Anyway, we quickly cut back to the cruise ship. We see Charles Bronson (remember him from Saeko's office back at Shuri University and the break-in at the Wagura's?) sneak up and pick the lock on Saeko's stateroom door. While the pretty lady sleeps (still wearing lipstick, BTW) he tiptoes over to her luggage and takes out a King Seesar-sized box and sneaks back out.
Next we see Bronson entering his own stateroom with the box. I guess it's his stateroom, I can't imagine it would be someone else's room, especially on a passenger liner where all the doors lock. Instead of leaving it in the box, he opens the lid and takes out the statue and places it on the desk for some reason.
Suddenly, Chandler (?!?!?) leaps him from behind and knocks him to the floor. What??? Was Chandler in Bronson's room all along? He must have been, because we didn't see or hear the door open, and presumably the doors lock automatically when closed like hotel rooms. How did he know that Bronson was even on the boat, let alone what room he was in, let alone be able to get into his room without a key, let alone know that Bronson was even going to steal the statue that night and take it back to his room. And if he did know his plans, then he took a huge chance by leaving Saeko alone, not knowing if Bronson would have killed Saeko to keep his actions secret (which is logically what he should have done). This is such a stupidass movie.
And so we have yet another lame fist fight between Chandler and Charles Bronson. Bronson pulls another silenced pistol (I guess he bought a spare) but Chandler knocks it out of his hand. While wrestling, Bronson then pulls a knife and cuts Chandler's hand. It could have been worse but Chandler manages to avoid several knife swings, showing him to be a master of knife fighting as well as a pretty good construction foreman. Getting ahold of the gun, Chandler shoots Bronson in the right eye (!!!), staggering him back against the cabin wall.
Now, we have a bullet fired from at most six feet away hitting a man in the eye and there's no blood or anything at all (to be fair this is a Rated G movie). Then the right side of Bronson's face morphs into a terribly bad ape mask. I guess that whatever effect that the aliens used to mask themselves as human was stripped away by the bullet. His lower set of teeth strangely elongate and he begins grunting in ape-like tones, all to show us the simian nature of the aliens real appearance.
But again, he was just shot in the face by a handgun at close range, and as we shall see later, the aliens are just as mortal as humans, so why is Charles Bronson still alive in the first place. But he is alive and seemingly unhurt, and he grabs the statue and runs out of the stateroom. Chandler, still holding the gun, has about a million chances to shoot him again but does not (what the hell!!! First Wagura and now you!!!), but instead just chases him out into the night.
We then have a horribly ugly chase-fight along the open deck of the ship, highlighted by Bronson throwing flimsy metal deck chairs at Chandler as he chases after him. Despite the fact that it's morning (we clearly see the rising sun), there's strangely no one else on deck. Chandler carries the gun the whole time but still refuses to use it, and even loses it back to Bronson at the end. Then, just when we hope to God that he shoots Chandler and puts us out of our misery, Bronson is shot himself by an unknown gunman. Still holding the statue, Bronson (read: an obviously fake prop dummy dressed like Bronson) falls overboard into the sea.
Saeko, who has awakened to find the statue gone, runs up to him just then. As they talk about the strange way Bronson fell overboard (Chandler guesses he was shot), they're approached by Neo, the mysterious man in black that has been tailing them all movie long. With a big smile he says to them, "Hey, on a night like this, you should talk about love." What? Who wrote that line? He then just walks away, and despite the circumstances, Chandler and Saeko just let him go without even so much as a word. Of course, Neo shot Charles Bronson, we just have to wait until later to find out why.
Next we jump ahead to see our two heroes leaving the cruise ship once it has docked in Okinawa. The ship's Captain (another bit part appearance by the legendary Kenji Sahara) gives them an identical box to the one that they lost. Chandler explains to a surprised Saeko that the statue they lost was a fake and the real one was in the Captain's safe. What the hell? Why would he have done that? Did he suspect that someone was going to try and steal the statue again? Logical since Charles Bronson tried to steal it before at the Waguras, but did he really have the time to get a fake made? How much time has passed here anyway? Chandler quotes Sun Tsu by saying to Saeko, "What friends don't know, enemies don't know." Classy.
The ship captain (Kenji Sahara!).
Back in his eyesore orange Nissan Skyline coupe, Chandler and Saeko go to find Miyajima, Eiko and Joey at their hotel. They're not there, the desk clerk saying they have been missing for some time. Leaving Saeko alone at the hotel (which seems odd considering the two armed robbery attempts so far) Chandler drives off to the cave to hunt for the missing people. We see, indeed, that some strange man we've never seen before is now watching over Saeko from afar.
Back inside the spacebase, Miyajima has apparently fixed the broken MechaGodzilla. Man, he's sweating like a Guatemalan tomato picker in July! I'd think having all that dripping liquid around all that open, exposed electrical stuff would be asking for trouble. Get that man a hankie! Mr. Sulu then says that he will now be taken to see his daughter and released. But, sneaky ape that he is, Mr. Sulu tosses Miyajima into the "Execution Room" with Eiko and Joey and tells him he's going to die, too.
Now, first of all, Mr. Sulu is assuming that Miyajima actually did fix his robot and not just saying that he did, or even secretly sabotaged it. The professor could have done this as he obviously knows more about the robot than any of the aliens do. As well, what if the robot breaks again? Why would Mr. Sulu kill off the one person who can fix it again? Dumb alien apes. Anyway, in a not-too-unexpected James Bondish twist, the execution room is a big "sauna of death", with steam jets and heat lamps. This will take quite a long time as we shall see. Way too much time in the next ten minutes of the film are spent showing us close-ups of Eiko's face as the three of them suffer in the sauna, another example of the Japanese fixation of young women being tortured on film.
The sauna of death.
Back to Chandler, sweating like an overworked Pakistani dockworker but not willing to take off his jacket or tie, who's now in the cave. He finds the professor's pipe and is surprised by two armed spaceman sentries. Just as Chandler is about to be shot dead, Neo appears, shooting one of the sentries and karate-chopping the other. We see the sentry's hand morphing into a bad ape hand as he (presumably) dies. Though when Charles Bronson was just wounded, his face changed into an ape, so maybe only the sentry's hand was hurt. Who knows, who cares? I just want to know how Neo got here so quick.
Neo is sweating worse than anyone I've ever seen, short of an Amish farmer behind his horse-plow. Gallons of sweat are pouring off his face, it must have been hellishly hot in the cave set for the actors to be sweating that much. Neo is also still wearing his sunglasses! What the hell? I'm all for staying in character, but come on!
Chandler asks Neo who he is and Neo obligingly tells him everything. It seems Neo is really an Interpol Police Organization agent named Nanbara. Apparently some six months ago, Interpol learned about the spacemen and have been investigating them since. Alien invasions are handled by Interpol? Don't you think something as important would be handled by more than just one guy in sunglasses?
Ah, apparently the sentry with the ape hand glove was just knocked out, because Neo now "wakes him up" and orders him to lead them to the secret base. To gain entrance to the base, there's an exchange of passwords shouted through the metal door (!!!). Tell me again how dumb these aliens are? They can build an underground base and a huge robot but they can't put up a closed-circuit camera or even a peephole in the door? The passwords, by the way, are "Alpha" and "Centaurus". Having knocked out the one (!!!) guard on the inside of the door, Chandler and Neo take their clothes and gear to be able to move about the base more easily.
They jump the one (!!!) guard outside the door of the Sauna of Death. There's a simple push button directly beside the door on an otherwise empty wall, but instead of pushing it, Neo just shoots it with his gun. This somehow opens the door when you'd think that it wouldn't. Once inside, they, however, are surprised by two more armed alien guards. [Editor Pam: One even says, "Reach for the sky!" so I guess in addition to studying Godzilla, the aliens have also spent time studying old Westerns.] Neo goes for his gun, which is now suddenly tucked in his back belt, and shoots them both. Hey, wait! Our two heroes don alien clothes to rescue a woman from a prison cell? Just like in Star Wars on the Death Star! George Lucas has got a lot of explaining to do.
As alarms sound, Mr. Sulu, looking annoyed to no end, watches our heroes running out through the cave on a monitor. So I guess they did have security cameras in the cave? If so, then why didn't they catch the sentries being killed or the forced entry into the base? Who runs the security for this base, Ray Charles? Ah, but Mr. Sulu says, "Goodbye, stupid earthmen" so we know that he's got a plan.
Sure enough, as the five of them cram into Chandler's Skyline, Neo stops Chandler from turning the key. Apparently from the editing here, Chandler left the key in the ignition while he went into the cave. This seems really trusting, even for Okinawa. After everyone is out of the car, Neo rigs a wire to the key and turns it from a distance, and sure enough the car explodes with a huge boom!. Now how did he know the car was rigged to blow? I guess that's why he's a secret agent man.
Just then, they notice that the moon is blood red, in fulfillment of the prophesy from the cave. Neo declares he's going back into the cave to "take care of those bastards" while the rest of them head off for Azumi Castle with the statue. Joey and Miyajima go with Neo--Joey probably because he's jealous of his brother getting to do all the action-hero stuff, and the professor to redeem himself for having helped the aliens with their robot. Chandler gives him his pipe back (remember this).
Ok, Neo, Miyajima and Joey sneak back into the cave and reach the door again. Ok, first off, since they're only armed with the agent's pistol, you have to wonder why they didn't take any of the spaceman guns from all the guards that they eliminated before? Wouldn't it be easier to invade and destroy an alien base if more than only one out of the three men were armed? And what happened to the security cameras in the cave and outside the entrance? And why didn't they post more guards in the cave and outside the door once they realized how easily their security was breached before? Wouldn't a pile of dead guards cause you to beef up your defenses a little? And laughably worse, we're soon to hear that the passwords to gain entrance to the base haven't even changed! Using the same "Alpha-Centaurus" trick, Neo kills the one (still!!!) guard on the inside of the door and they rush in.
The door to the base.
We now cut back to Chandler and the girls. How Chandler and Eiko make it back to the hotel to get Saeko and the statue is never explained, but somehow they do. Maybe they took Neo's car? The editing here makes it seem that they get back to the city before the three men even start to enter the cave, but this has got to be just bad cutting. We see them next at Azumi Castle, running down a flight of stairs. Both girls, running side by side, seem to be struggling to keep up, but Chandler reaches back and takes only Saeko's hand to steady her. Poor Eiko must feel like she's a fifth wheel here as icky sweaty love blossoms between Chandler and Saeko.
Eiko and Saeko.
Ah, but more danger erupts as gunshots ring out! As two bullets kick up dirt around them, they dive for the ground. Watch as Eiko grabs Saeko's butt as they are on the ground, mmmm...very kinky/slashy. We see that two alien guards have taken the Azumi princess and her grandfather hostage. One guard, pointing a gun at the princess, says "give the statue to me or the old man and the girl will die!".
A few things here. First the guns they hold are the same that we've seen the guards with the entire movie but never fire before. Here we see that they are standard projectile weapons, strange considering the laser and maser technology that the aliens have already shown us. Also, the guards are wearing their shiny silver spaceman suits, out in public, seemingly making no attempt at being inconspicuous. Also, if they want the damn statue so bad, why don't they just shoot everyone there and take it off their bleeding corpses? They have the drop on Chandler and the girls, after all.
Just as they're about to hand over the statue, the two guards are shot dead by the strange man that we earlier saw watching over Saeko at the hotel (while Chandler went off to the cave). He's obviously an Interpol agent too as he's wearing the same kind of sunglasses that Neo had on.
Sure enough, he introduces himself as Neo's partner Tamura. In a strange bit, all the people here now exchange some weird looks. Chandler looks stern and concerned. Saeko and Eiko seem to be fawning over Tamura like twelve-year olds at a Ricky Martin concert. The princess and her grandfather look at each other as if to say, "Ah, the valiant Japanese have saved us! I take back every bad thing I've ever said about the mainlanders!".
Tamura, there on the left.
Just then they notice that the sun is rising in the west, in accordance with the prophecy. Chandler deduces that it's a mirage (how???). Saeko takes the statue and runs up to a small platform on a wall of the castle where she places it gently. How the hell did she know that was the right place to put it, or even the right direction to face it, or anything? Anyway, the rays from the sun are reflected off the statue's eyes and a beam of red light shoots out. The beam clearly strikes a small rocky island surrounded by water. Ok, does a "mirage" of the sun project rays? I don't think so, but I may be wrong. And if the statue was facing the real sun (to the east) then the castle has got to be on the island's eastern coast, right? To check this I went Googling and could not find any reference to any "Azumi castle". Little help here? In the next movie, the scene of the coming battle is clearly on the west coast of Okinawa, which doesn't jive with the rising sun. Arg. Anyway, the beam causes the rock to explode (???) and in the resulting hole we see the legendary King Seesar's face.
King Seesar peaking out.
Back at the spacebase, Mr. Sulu learns that "they have freed King Seesar". To which he replies dejectedly that "our men have failed to get the statue", to which the audience replies, "maybe you should have sent more than two men to get it, you numbnuts!". Hey, wait, how did they know that the monster has been awakened? They must have a recon patrol watching the castle grounds. Mr. Sulu decides that King Seesar will be MechaGodzilla's first victim and orders the robot launched.
So MechaGodzilla emerges from his silo through a sliding door by use of his foot-mounted jets. He then lands and begins walking. I guess that the fuel for the jets is not unlimited and to be used only when needed, otherwise it would make more sense for the robot to just fly all the way to King Seesar and kill him before the monster was ready. One also has to wonder about all that backblast jet exhaust contained in the seemingly enclosed silo.
Arriving too late, Neo, Miyajima and Joey decide to head for the control room to try and stop the robot. They charge into the control room, but are frozen in place by some sort of electric bug-zapper as Mr. Sulu laughs evilly. He speaks into a corded microphone, "MechaGodzilla, kill King Seesar quickly". So, the robot uses a voice-activation system in addition to the simple flip-switches and blinking lights? Why didn't we see this technology before when everything about the robot was controlled with switches?
Now, apparently, King Seesar can only be reawakened by a "direct descendant of the Azumi royal family". So the fair princess runs down to the beach and drops to her knees as a musical number starts. She then sings this corny pop tune that somehow awakens King Seesar, which is nothing like the Mothra song, really. The song is not dubbed, thankfully, and I'm sure the words are quite lame. It works, however, and the rocks explode outward to expose the now fully-awake King Seesar.
The princess sings!
Ugg, what a pathetic monster. Imagine the biggest floppy-eared Pekinese you have ever seen, or one of those Foo Lions you see dancing in Chinese parades. His fur is shaggy and his teeth are pointy and he has three claws per hand (without a thumb one wonders how he picks up anything). He's about the size of Godzilla but obviously vastly lighter on his feet. His sole special power is the ability to absorb energy beams projected at him in his right eye, and re-direct them back at his adversary through his left eye!!!!!
King Seesar awakens just in time, as MechaGodzilla arrives on the scene. The battle is set and here's the tale of the tape.
Height: 50 meters (164 feet)
Weight: 33,000 tons
Weapons: Energy reflection eyes, sharp pointy claws, fleas.
Height: 50 meters (164 feet)
Weight: 44,000 tons
Weapons: Energy beams, missiles, yada yada...
MechaGodzilla starts off the battle by shooting out his maser beams from his eyes. The twin beam hits King right in his right eye where it's reflected back out of his left eye (!!!), striking MechaGodzilla in the chest. One can only marvel at the properties of King's eyes that allow them to absorb and re-direct energy in such a way. King follows this up by running headlong at MechaGodzilla, but is fended off by an arm block, crashing him to the ground. It's obvious in the coming fight that King Seesar will have to use his superior agility and foot speed if he is to survive.
King Seesar gets up in time to receive and re-direct another maser blast back at MechaGodzilla, hitting him in the throat this time. Why does MechaGodzilla keep aiming for King Seesar's eyes? After a few of that re-direct thing, wouldn't they start aiming somewhere else? Anyway, King Seesar charges again, and this time tackles MechaGodzilla to the ground. Both back on their feet again, we get some nifty kung-fu moves. King Seesar ducks under a left-arm swing and then blocks a right-arm swing, trapping the arm and using the leverage to toss MechaGodzilla to the ground where he crashes into a building. King Seesar jumps on him and smacks him on the chest a couple of times before MechaGodzilla shoves him off.
King Seesar is out of his league.
Separated again, we get one more maser beam re-directed back sequence (though we don't see where the beam hits MechaGodzilla). Seeing how that isn't working (duh, try aiming for the belly, morons!), MechaGodzilla tries out his finger-tip missiles. He fires off eight missiles in two separate volleys both from his right hand. King Seesar jumps behind a thick rocky spire that takes most of the hits, though one and possibly two hit him squarely in the chest. King Seesar seems to be a flesh and blood creature, so we wonder how hits from explosive-tipped projectiles can seem to cause no visible damage.
Showing some nifty tactical strategy, MechaGodzilla then fires his powerful attack beam from an emitter on his chest. The emitter is behind a flip-down door that opens real cool, much cooler than the horrid "special" effect used to realize the beam--a bright red zig-zag cartoon lightning bolt-looking thing. The attack beam shears off the rock spire, exposing King Seesar. King Seesar gives a comical look that says, "Damn! I am way out of my league, here!" before MechaGodzilla quickly fires off four more missiles from his right hand. At least two hit King solidly, knocking him to the ground in a shower of sparks and dust. As with the earlier battle with Godzilla, we wonder why the robot only fires missiles from one hand per battle.
MechaGodzilla then charges in to deal out some serious hand-to-hand thrashing. King Seesar gets his furry butt kicked royally here, MechaGodzilla showing a wide range of moves from jamming his hand into King Seesar's mouth, to kicking him in the stomach when he's down, to the head squeeze, to the classic karate chop to the neck.
He needs some help!
Back in the spacebase, our three intrepid heroes are chained up in the control room where they can watch MechaGodzilla stomp his enemies. Mr. Sulu reminds Miyajima that he helped fix the robot, insulting the man's honor to no end. I'm still wondering why he's keeping them alive now when before he tried to kill them off several times. Neo, because he's James Bond, slips a signet ring off his finger and begins to use it to pick the lock on his chains.
Back at the battle, just as King Seesar is almost down for the count, the waters of the sea boil and rage. Out of the water leaps Godzilla! Chandler intones that his appearance must be the prophesized third monster that will appear, and he is right on. Mr. Sulu is also surprised to see Godzilla still alive and picks up his microphone, "MechaGodzilla, beat Godzilla to death!" And so the two main duelers square off again in a clearing near the coast. MechaGodzilla strikes a stupid-looking kung-fu pose once again.
Godzilla starts off the battle by firing off a quick Atomic Fire Breath blast, which misses as MechaGodzilla engages its jets and flies straight up, showing an enormous amount of on-demand thrust that must result in a very high G-factor effect. Godzilla then (and I really mean this) does one of those swinging-arm finger snaps as if to say, "Aww shucks! I missed!". It's the dumbest bit of anthropomorphizing I've ever seen in a Godzilla movie. While airborne, MechaGodzilla zaps Godzilla with his eye masers, hitting him in the throat and knocking him down.
Godzilla on the attack.
We cut quickly back to the spacebase where an exuberant Mr. Sulu orders his robot to finish him off. We watch his monitors with him as they show Godzilla smack against the ground in a cloud of dust. The camera angle is at ground level so we have to wonder where the camera is that is taking this image, since it can't be from MechaGodzilla, who is flying at the time. Perhaps there is a silver-suited alien with a camcorder hooked to a satellite transmitter out on the battlefield?
Neo has by now straightened his ring and is using it to pick his handcuffs, while Miyajima has pulled his pipe out of his back pocket and is unscrewing it. Please don't tell me that these intergalactic spacemen use padlocks that can be picked with a blunt piece of bendable metal, please. Indeed, he manages to unhook his chains just this way.
Back at the battle, MechaGodzilla lands again. King Seesar finally decides to come out of hiding (coward!) and advances towards MechaGodzilla in his loopy, bouncy gait. He tries to sneak up behind MechaGodzilla but the robot's head swivels 180 degrees to face him and he stops cold in his tracks. In a very, very nifty tracking shot we follow MechaGodzilla's eye-view of King Seesar back along his arm to a point-of-view shot of Godzilla. There's going to be some serious hurtin' going on here, I can feel it.
From his backwards head he fires his maser beams at King Seesar, from his right foot he launches three missiles at Godzilla. The camera angle doesn't allow us to see if these attacks hit, however. MechaGodzilla then aims his right hand at the ground (the foreground of our picture) and shoots off four missiles that blow up some random structures on the ground. We wonder why he wasted ammunition on some sheds and houses, but the pyrotechnic display was indeed impressive. King Seesar disappears again for the next few minutes (coward!), undoubtedly hiding behind a rock again.
Enraged, Godzilla makes to charge but MechaG whips up his right hand and fires four more missiles at him. Despite the range being like a hundred feet, all four miss and hit the ground. The concussion, however, knocks Godzilla off his feet again (for like the millionth time). On his way down, he lets off a quick Atomic Fire Breath that connects with MechaGodzilla's throat (again with the throat shots!), knocking the big robot back on its heels.
Both fighters bounce back up again quickly. MechaGodzilla then activates a nifty force field around him. This is accomplished by spinning his head around rapidly (!). Since the field is a hazy blue, perhaps it's formed by some use of the similarly-colored maser beams from its eyes. The field is impenetrable to Godzilla's Atomic Fire Breath (as he tries one to be sure) and physical attacks as well (as Godzilla tries to punch through and gets knocked on his butt again for his efforts). MechaGodzilla then turns off the force field and we never see it again. One wonders why such a powerful defensive screen is not used more. Perhaps it takes up too much power, or also keeps the robot from engaging in offensive actions of its own?
MechaGodzilla now unleashes a hellstorm of firepower against his two opponents. King Seesar has now reappeared and is beside Godzilla for the next few scenes of abuse at the hands of MechaGodzilla. The robot fires everything it has at them as they present a combined target (stupid tactics). Attack beams from his chest, maser beams from his eyes, and missiles from both hands and feet all are used together. After watching this sequence many times it's clear that they reused much of the footage, even putting some shots in a loop several times. Assuming, however, that they want us to believe that all the action was live, then I counted at least nineteen (!!!) missile salvo firings for an estimated total of at least sixty (!!!) missiles fired in this one attack. Again, where do these reloads come from.
Under the onslaught, the two monsters stumble around and fall over each other as the ground erupts in repeated explosions and the air is thick with energy beams and missiles. Despite all the firepower, careful watching shows that King Seesar doesn't take any direst hits and Godzilla only takes two, both maser beam hits to the chest. Therefore it's no surprise that at the end of the onslaught, both King Seesar and Godzilla are still on their feet and seemingly intact. This robot can't hit a barn.
MechaGodzilla then takes to the air again, and this time his aim is better. It seems odd that he can score hits while airborne (and presumably less stable) than when firmly planted on the ground. Four maser beams from the eyes in a row hit Godzilla on the same spot on the right side of his throat (again with the throat!). Real blood (!!!) begins to spurt out of Godzilla's neck like I'm watching Kill Bill and the big lizard falls to the ground. I'm assuming that MechaGodzilla found a weak spot and deliberately targeted the same spot, though it needs to be explained why before he couldn't hit the ocean with a rock.
MechaGodzilla now loops around and fires off another double volley of hand missiles at the prone Godzilla. Six of the missiles "stick" on Godzilla's hide and hang there like acupuncture needles. Godzilla (no longer bleeding now) gets to his feet and somehow becomes a "magnet", flexing with a electric blue squiggly effect and causing the missiles to fall off of him (????). This is as hard to describe as it was to watch. I guess the earlier scene where Godzilla "recharges" himself in the lightning storm is supposed to tie in with this newfound magnetic ability, though not one word of dialogue is offered to support this. Anyway, to show us he's all magnetic and stuff, we see two big metal transformer towers moving slowly through the air to "stick" on Godzilla's chest. Would they move that slowly, wouldn't momentum cause them to speed up the closer they came to the magnetic force?
Towers sticking to Godzilla.
Oh, yeah, in the last scene we also get to see the size of MechaGodzilla's fingertip missiles as they remain "stuck" on Godzilla's hide for a few seconds before he "repels" them with his magnetism. Relative to the size of Godzilla, they appear to be around twenty-feet long and the thickness of the warhead is almost the same as the bus of the missile. We wonder again (and again) where the reloads for these missiles are kept within the body of MechaGodzilla. You'd think that 70% of his internal volume is taken up with missile reloads by the size they are and the high rate of fire. And we also wonder why they didn't explode when they hit Godzilla. The warheads must have direct-contact fuses instead of proximity fuses, but the missiles did hit him so why no explosions? Maybe, though, his newly-generated magnetic field stopped them inches from his skin, but you'd still think that the force of the sudden stop against the "solid" magnetic field would trigger their warheads, right? And we also why the missile motors were not firing anymore once they hit Godzilla, why would they shut off?
With this last volley of missiles launched, a count of the number fired since this final battle began is in order. Since many of the scenes are edited so frenetically and there's much reuse of footage, a totally accurate account is impossible. We can say for certain, however, that at least 60 and possibly as many as 90 missiles were fired. Where were all these reloads kept in MechaGodzilla's body? Knowing roughly the size of the missiles there's clearly no way they could have been stored internally. Oh, well, it's just a silly movie...
As MechaGodzilla attempts to fly off, Godzilla "reverses the polarity", effectively transforming himself into a living magnet. To show the mental effort exerted, Godzilla's hand and body motions mirror those of Luke Skywalker trying to lift his X-Wing out of the swamps of Dagobah using The Force. But wait, The Empire Strikes Back was made in 1982, right? I think George Lucas stole that bit from our Godzilla movie!!!!
Godzilla using the Force.
We also wonder how Godzilla is able to seemingly control this magnetic force into a relatively narrow beam so that only MechaGodzilla is effected. And I'm not a scientist, but I can imagine that the actual magnetic force needed here to overcome the weight and opposing jet thruster force of MechaGodzilla must be outrageously off the scale. And why doesn't MechaGodzilla try shooting Godzilla to distract him?
Anyway, the magnetic tractor beam works and MechaGodzilla is forced to land at Godzilla's feet. Once grounded, Godzilla grabs him from behind in a full-nelson hold. MechaGodzilla tries to take off and manages to rise a short distance in the air with Godzilla holding on to him before crashing back down. Those foot jets must be super powerful to lift the combined weights of the two fighters even a short distance.
Seeing his chance while MechaGodzilla is so constrained, King Seesar makes a run for him. Nice of you to show up now, dog boy! He pounds on MechaGodzilla's chest while Godzilla holds his arms from behind, showing little sportsmanship, I must say. MechaGodzilla just takes the hits, even though it seems he could be blasting away with his eye beams or something.
Godzilla about to end this fight.
Godzilla then twists his head off (!!!). Yes! Hey, wait, wasn't the robot's head able to swivel before? Why did it sound like it was bending and mangling metal to turn the head now? Anyway, MechaGodzilla blows up in a big boom, the severed head falling into the ocean. Watch the scene when the robot blows up, Godzilla is standing right next to him but you can plainly tell that it's just the empty suit propped up next to the empty MechaGodzilla suit as the latter is rigged with pyros to explode. It's a very obvious and cheap effect.
Meanwhile, back in the spacebase cave, the aliens are freaking out. Neo, now fully free, has taken the two parts of Miyajima's special pipe. He creeps up on the distracted aliens and tosses the pipe at the control station. Now, there are only three aliens in the control room, Mr. Sulu and two flunkies. You'd think there would be more aliens here, especially since there are also three prisoners in the room. When Neo makes his move, all three aliens pull their little pop guns. Neo grabs one guy from behind, and in true James Bond fashion, uses the man's own gun to kill the other flunky. Then Mr. Sulu shoots and kills the flunky that he's holding at the same time Neo shoots Mr. Sulu, hitting him in the throat (again, again, again with the throat hits!). Mr. Sulu spurts green blood (!!!) and expires.
With these last two kills, we can total up the final carnage numbers for Agent Nanbara, AKA Neo. In this movie he has killed at total of seven confirmed alien spacemen, with another three injured and very possibly killed. Truly, he's a one-man death squad worthy of this era of filmmaking. But it's ok, because they are Evil Spacemen, see, so their deaths don't count.
The computers begin to spark and explode now. Our heroes dash out of the control room, as Neo grabs the keys and unshackles them. Watch the extremely comical and unrealistic way in which he "unlocks" the handcuffs as they run up the stairs, very funny. We see the base explode (killing three aliens as they run in panic) in huge waves of flame and smoke. Tell me how the entire base could self-destruct because some computer in the control room short circuited? Don't these intergalactic aliens have surge protectors or fire suppression measures?
Our three heroes escape by the skin of their teeth, though the editing makes you wonder if they got trapped in the firestorm. Saeko even worries about her father and Chandler says that he has made a noble sacrifice, further making you think that they all died. Ah, but no, because at the very end we see that all is well. Our cast of good guys and girls all smile and laugh as the statue of King Seesar is put back in the alcove of Azumi Castle.
Oh, yeah, after the battle, King Seesar reseals himself in the rocks to await the next time he's needed (which thankfully is never again in the Godzilla series) while Godzilla swims back out to sea to await a sequel.
Written in July 2004 by Nathan Decker and edited by Pam Burda and Darci Sharver.
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