Posted in Fantasia 2011, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews

Fantasia 2011: Review of Karate-Robo Zaborgar

KARATE-ROBO_ZABORGARKarate-Robo Zaborgar (2011)
Director: Noboru Iguchi, Screenplay: Noboru Iguchi
Cast: Itsuji Itao, Mami Yamasaki, Asami, Naoto Takenaka, Hiroyuki Watanabe

Achoo!  Denjin Zaborgar GO!  If what you’re looking for is good old fashioned, cheesy fun involving a robot superhero then this is the movie for you.  It is a remake of an old Japanese TV-show from the 1970s and based on clips from the original TV show that play during the end credits, it seems like a very faithful recreation with updated special effects and costumes.  Karate Robo Zaborgar features a robot named Zaborgar who is endowed with various weapons and can transform into a motorcycle.  By his side is Daimon, a young man who’s skilled in imitating the martial arts of Bruce Lee and also gives Zaborgar his commands.  They’re a crime fighting duo who are called in when an evil organization called Sigma begins kidnapping politicians to literally suck out their DNA.

I didn’t find the movie as funny as the Fantasia audience but it definitely has its moments with its combination of crude jokes, physical comedy and extremely surprised facial expressions.  Daimon’s frequent Bruce Lee yelps and the weird enemies like Miss Borg, Diarrhea Robot and the Bulldog van were quite funny.  The plot is also more complex and coherent than you’d expect as Daimon at one point becomes confused about who he should be protecting.  There are some genuine character moments that add human emotion to break-up all the zaniness going on, particularly in the second half when new characters are introduced.  The action is predictably cheesy but entertains nonetheless with Zaborgar’s abilities on full display.  You’ll be hard-pressed to not want to yell out Zaborgar GO! when the credits roll.

The director and music composer were in attendance for a Q&A and showed up wearing only sumo loin cloths (mawashi).  No I didn’t take photos but others did so I’m sure they’ll show up on the internet soon.  The director’s frequent oh, ohs were funny to hear as he would listen to the translator translating audience questions for him if you really want to see them.  The director mentioned that the Fantasia version of this movie was 16 minutes shorter but that the longer version will be available on DVD.  There was also some enthusiastic discussion of a cyborg sex scene but I don’t remember whether this was a sequence the director wished he could have done or if it was shot but cut from the version of the movie shown at Fantasia.

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Author:

Longtime fan of East Asian films. Occasional guest "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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