Dai-Nipponjin (Big Man Japan) (2009)
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Critic Reviews for Dai-Nipponjin (Big Man Japan)
Somewhere there is a stranger film than Big Man Japan, but it would be hard to find.
This inspired 2007 send-up of the atomic-monster genre gets a fair amount of comic mileage from Daisato (played by the director) being anything but a big man.
The film, written, directed and starring stand-up comic Hitoshi Matsumoto has, like most superheroes, a tragic flaw: It isn't funny.
At nearly two hours, Big Man Japan is clever (in a sick sort of way) but overlong. It needs judicious editing -- more mockumentary, fewer superhero antics.
Audience Reviews for Dai-Nipponjin (Big Man Japan)
Movies don't come more oddball than this. Japan's version of "Hancock" is also a loving tribute to the 60s live action kids shows. Big Man Japan is a "mockumentary" following the life of Masaru Daisato, a seemingly ordinary, middle-aged and divorced loser who's having trouble making money and yet seems to be very famous (and disliked by the general population). People throw rocks through his window and write critical graffiti on his wall. Masaru however, is a super hero and must be on call 24 hours a day, for he never knows when he must leap into action to defend the country from giant monsters. It's these bizarre monsters that are the true stars of the movie, from the giant, "hugging" monster with the comb-over to the "evil stare" monster with the cooked chicken body and the phallic eyeball. Masaru grows great big and then chases down these creatures and confronts them (generally he doesn't defeat the monsters so much as they clumsily take themselves out). Everytime a monster dies, it's soul floats up to heaven on a beam of light. The clumsy battles are broadcast on television, albiet to very low ratings (Masaru must cover his body in advertisements just to keep on the air). Every scene involving the monsters is disturbingly surreal and funny all at once. Unfortunately, the documentary portion of the film takes up a great deal of the time. It's not that these scenes aren't compelling in their own right (while furthering the plot), it's just that they aren't very entertaining for the most part. The ending throws out the very premise the film is based upon (the notion that all these creatures are real), and gives us a cheaply done Power Rangers-type production of bad costumes and a badly choreographed fight scene. Yes, I realize this was supposed to be parodying that type of Japanese superhero program, but it feels tacked on and lazy, as if they didn't know how to end it so they went for something easy. Plus, it sort of negates the entire film they just made. I suppose it could be construed as a slightly political jab at the US (what with the red, white and blue super family coming to save the day) but even that is heavy-handed and not very funny. In any regard, it's not a great film, but it is for the most part, an entertaining one (marred, if slightly by a less-than-witty ending).
More than just a homage to kaiju flicks, you can feel Matsumoto is meditating a lot about the routine of living in Japan for a middle age man. A clever approach with a dead-pan comedy style that suits the whole thing very well. The final act was unpredictable but quite fun, and seeing Riki Takeuchi as a big jumping monster is always a plus.
I know a lot of people hated this one, but I for one thought it was hysterically funny. The monsters are totally outrageous and the ineptness of the 'hero' makes him completely identifiable. Highly recommended for the visuals and the creative "bizarreness" (just don't take it too seriously).
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