Fantastic Fest Review: Karate-Robo Zaborgar

11 Oct

Karate-Robo Zaborgar was one of the movies I was most anticipating seeing while I was at Fantastic Fest.  I am a huge sucker for Japanese tokusatsu television from the 1970s—giant monsters and/or robots played by men in rubber suits fighting over miniature versions of Tokyo.  I mean, come on.  So, when I heard that one of the classics of this genre, Denjin Zaborger, was getting the remake treatment by the same director who brought us The Machine Girl and RoboGeisha, I was understandably intrigued and excited.

I don’t know what I was really expecting when I went into this film, other than robots fighting, but even with my weakness for this type of entertainment, I was pleasantly surprised.

The story is simple enough.  Yutaka Daimon (played by Itsuji Itao) and his robot partner Zaborgar consistently save an ungrateful Japan from the evil organization Sigma.  Complications arise when Daimon falls in love with the evil Sigma agent Miss Borg.  Fast forward a couple decades and Daimon is unemployed, overweight, and without Zaborgar.  But Sigma is back, and only Daimon can stop them.

As I said, fairly simple.  It could almost be an episode of Power Rangers if it wasn’t for director Noboru Iguchi’s existential tendencies.  But that was the brilliance of hiring Iguchi to direct.  Along with existentialism, you get a giant teenage girl destroying a city with the radio waves coming out of her cell, evil robot women with chest dragons, and, as soon as the movie is getting a little too sentimental, fart jokes to lighten the mood.

If that all sounds too much like a giant robot version of Ren and Stimpy for you, then this is probably not the film for you.  You won’t feel the excitement every time Daimon yells, “Zaborgar!  Go!”  And you probably won’t laugh when some of the evil robots sport giant lips that suck politicians’ faces off with a kiss of death.  But for those of us that do appreciate this type of humor and action, then this movie was truly a blessing.  When leaving the theater, I couldn’t help but notice that every member of the audience was smiling, if not laughing.

And to top it off, all of this fun is had with style.  Karate-Robo Zaborgar looks amazing.  You can see Iguchi’s love for the source material in every frame of the film.  And for those who have never seen the original show, he was kind enough to include some original footage in the closing credits.

Basically, if you want to have a good time, this is a perfect film choice.  There’s plenty of action, humor, special effects, and silliness.  Noboru Iguchi took home the Best Director award in the Fantastic category, and there’s no question as to why.


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