Death Kappa

Title: Death Kappa
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi (Comedy)
Starring: Daniel Aguilar Gutiérrez, Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi
Director: Tomo'o Haraguchi
Language: Japanese

Someday, we'll be together, you and me
I'm wearing panties again today
The stars above are all lucky, happy
I'm going to end up putting our secret inside a treasure chest

Sometimes I wonder just how they manage to sell films like this to potential producers; whether they simply say 'It's about a Kappa that destroys stuff' and hope they don't ask for any further details, or if they have to ask them sit down and brace themselves whilst they explain exactly what they want this film to do. At least here they sold it to the right people; the producers who gave us 'Tokyo Gore Police' and 'Machine Girl' are on board, and that for me automatically seals the deal, I'm on board for the ride too. And this is one hell of a ride; this is the sort of B-Movie that makes Troma look like it's being serious; that harks back to Japan's glory days of Godzilla, mocking it as it proceeds. It's completely self aware and everything from the effects work to the choreography of the fights has been done to exemplify that, finding the humour in it all. They've succeeded in making this film thoroughly dreadful, cheapening everything to the point of no return and in exchange they've delivered upon one of the most hilarious films I've seen.

When a pop star realises she hasn't got any talent, she resolves to travel back home to her grandparents so as to look after them like they looked after her as a teenager. Unfortunately their reunion is cut short when a group of speeding teens run over her granny and drive off (don't worry, Kappa gets revenge for her); her final words? “Protect Kappa.” Cut to our mythical creatures specialist and we learn that a Kappa is a wrestling, cucumber loving, goblin/turtle who lives in lakes. And he just happens to love dancing to our protagonists brand of pop, much to the delight of our cute but completely insane scientist. Using her music against her to attempt to capture the Kappa for her research, first undergone by her now deceased grandfather, she sets to work fusing Kappa DNA with humans to create amphibious super soldiers. Well naturally this plan screws up so she detonates a nuclear warhead that must have misfired as all it did was create a monster that springs up to attack Tokyo Godzilla style. Who will save the country? Why that giant Kappa will of course!

Bear in mind that this is a film clocking in at less than 80 minutes and you'll see just how tight the pacing is here. It doesn't spend any longer than the absolute minimum explaining itself so it can get on with the parody, firing pun after pun within this joke of a film. The film is unquestionably divided between the two sections; the opening forty minutes a mini-film that alludes to the more modern brand of Japanese insanity; the 'Machine Girl,' 'Yakuza Weapon' and 'Robo-Geisha' style of insensibility full of obvious slapstick and oddball humour, which you'll either love or hate. It isn't until the second half of the film – or perhaps it would be more apt to call this the 'second film' – that the Godzilla parody gets under way, complete with super-lasers and the crackpot military cocking their heads back and laughing in the control room, plotting and scheming whilst the monster gets to business with wanton destruction. The fact that there are two sides will automatically make this a hard sell, the second half perhaps hitting it's mark more effectively due to the serious nature of the originals (albeit that's not how they're viewed now), but ultimately requiring prerequisite knowledge of two undeniably linked styles separated by time.

Usually when faced with a budget directors have to be a little clever; they use darkness and the shadows to disguise sub-par work, they leave as much as possible to the audience's imagination, using the power of suggestion to get into the audiences mind. Consider that at one point our Kappa and his monstrous foe start playing a game of volleyball; that the vehicles used are little more than remote controlled children's toys and you'll note that this director doesn't exactly follow this line of thought. Neither does he seem to like the idea of CGI, using rubber suits in a perfect homage to the flicks of the 70s – if it wasn't around 40 years ago, it won't be in this film. This is a flick that has so far been very poorly received and this seems to be on the fault of the audience; this isn't just a parody of the classics but destined to be a cult classic in its own right. It's cheap, nonsensical, batshit insane, and this is precisely why you should love it. Bring on the Blu-Ray!


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