GAMERA VS. BARUGON

(1966)
(Japanese Title:
Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon)

With Kôjirô Hongô, Kyôko Enami, Yûzô Hayakawa, Takuya Fujioka, Kôji Fujiyama, Akira Natsuki
Directed by Shigeo Tanaka
Reviewed by JB

This review is of the original Japanese version of the film.  

      From what I've read, GAMERA VS. BARUGON, the first sequel to Daiei Studio's hit GIANT MONSTER GAMERA, is the most serious and adult of all Gamera movies - which is like saying "This is the most hard-hitting, provocative Scooby Doo episode ever!".  

    It earns points by having Gamera show up and destroy things within minutes of the opening bell before the film takes us on an adventure in New Guinea, where a group of shady characters are trying to find a legendary opal worth bucks deluxe.  The opal, natch, turns out to the be the egg of an even more legendary monster named Barugon who can shoot a freeze ray from his tongue and a destructive rainbow from his back.  Did I say this was the most serious, adult Gamera film?   Nobody finds this out until the opal has already been brought to Japan, where Barugon hatches and grows to gigantic proportions within minutes. 

    Despite the promise of monster madness between the two title characters, the actual battle footage is fairly short. Gamera is incapacitated early in the film by Barugon and does not revive until the last ten minutes.  As for the plot, well, I honestly believe they made it up as it went along.  It's the usual "We have a new plan that can't fail!" story but all the plans depend on stuff that we suddenly learn about Barugon, such as he can't survive in water and he likes diamonds.  Eventually, when the first two plans fail, it is up to Gamera himself to save the day.

    In the Toho monster films, the humans were sometimes as entertaining as the monsters.  In the first Gamera film, this was not the case, but here, Kôji Fujiyama plays a wonderfully nasty villain who, much like Barugon, has a thing for diamonds.  The two heroic leads, Kôjirô Hongô and Kyôko Enami, may not be exciting but they play their well-rounded characters nicely.  The rest of the cast is filled with actors playing the usual army generals and befuddled scientists.  There are some well-done fight scenes between the hero and the villain, and the fact that the hero is one of the people who helped bring the monster to Japan, and thus is responsible for thousands of lives being lost and much damage to the Japanese infrastructure, gives his character a tragic depth not often found in these kinds of movies.

    As for Gamera, he flies off into the sunset, obviously ready to return for more adventures! 3 - JB

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