(Sorry for stealing your idea, KIASA)
I shall occasionally attempt to grace you with reviews of things I have recently played, watched, listened to or read. There’s a good chance these things will not be new releases, and have probably been reviewed many times before. But that’s their opinion and this is mine. Enjoy!
I have a taste for surreal humour. Some of my favourite comedy acts have inexplicable elements to them. Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer, Tim & Eric, The Mighty Boosh, Monty Python. Watching silly stuff that doesn’t make any sense makes me feel like someone is pouring lovely, delicious warm gravy over my soul. It’s like parts of my brain that lay dormant for the majority of the time are suddenly sizzling like sparklers.
So when I saw snippets of Big Man Japan on a Jonathan Ross TV show (I don’t recall which one I’m afraid) and then more clips thanks to a few Youtube searches, I knew this would be my kind of film.
The plot concerns a man named Masaru Daisato who, through his family heritage, has the ability to grow to huge proportions, with the aid of massive shocks of electricity. With this power, a steel pipe, and suitably large purple underwear, he battles monsters that terrorise the innocent Japanese people. Although they aren’t particularly grateful for the collateral damage he generates during these battles, and they leave hateful graffiti around for him, and occasionally throw bricks through his windows.
The majority of the film is mockumentary style and fair low-key. We see a lot of Daisato’s everyday life, and learn about the breakdown of his marriage, his childhood and his agent, who insists he regularly sports sponsors logo’s on his enlarged body. Sometimes the interviewer comes off a bit cruel, almost taunting the subject of his documentary, perhaps to emphasise the lack of respect he is afforded as defender of the people
Injected throughout the film and fantastically created CGI battles between Big Man and the mosters, reminiscent of the fights from Godzilla or the Power Rangers. But it’s not always as action packed as you’d expect, sometimes just resolved with shouting between the foes, and this all adds to oddness of film. Big Man doesn’t really have great fighting skills and when a real threat turns up, well I won’t spoil it for you. In some ways this film reminded me of Audition, with the mundane “slice-of-life” scenes amplifying the surreal comedy (or horror in the case of Audtion).
Daisato himself isn’t a one-dimensional hero. Initially you feel very sorry for him. All he is trying to do is protect the populous from the menagerie of beasties that threaten them. He appears to have a grudging pride in the responsibility that has been handed down through his family. But as the film goes on he makes some dubious choices and shows a cowardly side. At first this is jarring as he is supposed to be the hero, but it makes you realise he is human, and not devoid of flaws as most heroes are. It made him a far more interesting character which is good because there are very few scenes where he isn’t the centre of attention.
The ending of the film was just spot on for me. It didn’t really resolve anything, didn’t tie up any loose threads, it just left me thinking “What in God’s name just happened there?”. I sat there for a few seconds dazed by the absurdity, then began to laugh. It was the perfect ending. I had rented this film with the hopes of it dazzling me with amusing insanity and it succeeded more than I imagined.