REPTILIAN AKA YONGGARY
The story goes like this: Some 200 million years ago a mighty beast was felled by an unseen alien force. The prophecy surrounding said beast states that "the beast will be awakened by a powerful light and will wage war on mankind". Well, here we are 200 million years after the death of the monster and an excavation of its remains is underway. True to the prophecy an alien vessel is in Earth orbit and once they (the remains)are totally unearthed, a beam will be fired onto the exposed skeletal remains and Yonggary will be reborn! Under the aliens command, Yonggary goes from city to city decimating everything in its path. Nothing mankind has can harm him and only two people on the planet know how to stop him and they're not talking! Now that you know the scoop, let me tell you a bit about this latest entry in the large, green, scaly and attitudinal category. Reptilian AKA Yonggary is South Korea's answer to Japan's Godzilla. The first time he hit the scene was in 1967 in a film that went by many names. Initially it was Great Monster Yongary Then it became known as Great Monster Yongkari note the change in spelling. He later became Monster Yongkari and finally Yongary, Monster from the Deep and again, with the name spelling difference Yongkari, Monster of the Deep. All of this happened in 1967. Mind you these are not different films made in 1967, they are all the same film with different names attached. 1999 also sees a name change for the film's domestic distribution and Yonggary becomes Reptilian! Why the name change (again) to Reptilian? I haven't the foggiest. Yonggary has more of a ring to it than its current title but, Reptilian somehow won out. Now, the public reaction to Yonggary in the wake of the far more popular Gamera and Godzilla series was less than thrilling so, until 1999 Yonggary had been in something of a forced retirement. However, in 1999 Director Shim Hyung Rae resurrected Yonggary for what was to become his (Yonggary) biggest film to date. Like Gamera, Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidora and the rest of the Kaiju-Ega clan, Yonggary saw new life in the way of the latest in digital effects and miniatures. The script and acting however for Yonggary and indeed some of the newer Godzilla flicks is something of a throwback to its original low brow stint back in the 1960's! That is not too say that Yonggary is not an enjoyable if not flawed film. Yonggary is quite a lot of fun but more on that later.
The audio for the film is presented in a DD5.1 platform that has some very nice low-end boom when Yonggary approaches or is in scene. The dialogue is all easily understood and for the most part extremely laughable. The surrounds had great directional effect (primarily with F-16's buzzing about your head as they go after Yonggary) and the center was very nicely delineated. The video is a below average anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer that has a lot of grainy elements throughout the print. The black and gray images show the most grain and are generally poor to fair in their presentation. Other than that the colors were well saturated and the fleshtones were accurate. Regarding Yonggary itself, it never seems a part of the environment in which its been placed. The compositing used to create the creature(s) effects by "plugging them into scenes" makes Yonggary milky and pasty and detracts from the visual presentation. The resultant effect is more of an overlay of the monster on scenes of locations rather than the illusion of him actually being "inside" the action in those locations. If I had to rate the audio/video I'd give audio a B+ and video a D.
The extras on the disc consist of three trailers Godzilla 98' Godzilla 2000 and Reptilian AKA Yonggary. A Photo Gallery that consists of 10 shots, two of which are actually of Yonggary. And a Yonggary Profile identifying his height, weight, pastime and nemesis.
Columbia Tri-Star released both Yonggary and Godzilla (98) which speaks to why the menu screens for both features bear some cursory resemblance. Not as elaborate but using the same color schemes and themes, Yonggary's menus are very much like those of its bigger and better predecessor. The only gripe that I have about the menus screens are the wishy washy way in which they function. When you select the bonus features from the main menu the screen explodes and you are met with a blank rock wall with a highlighted oval that identifies nothing. When you select whatever it is that the oval is on, you are then able to see what you've chosen by the subsequent menu screen that appears. This did happen each time I loaded the disc so I'm hoping it's an isolated issue as opposed to a mastering problem.
If you love Kaiju films as much as I do you enjoy checking out as many as you can whenever and wherever possible. Yonggary was a title I was anxious to see as I remembered the 1967 version from all those many years ago. Truthfully, this is a very bad movie. The acting and dialogue are so ridiculous, it's almost too painful to take at times. But it is a "giant monster movie" so sometimes you have to sacrifice great acting and stellar scripts for mass destruction, mayhem and guys/gals in rubber suits walloping the deuce out of each other! Not too mention getting to destroy all those really cool miniature buildings, planes and things! While Yonggary has a long way to go before it begins to eat away at the Godzilla/Gamera dynasty, this latest entry is funny enough to merit at least a rental for some good ole' monster building mashing fun!