KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR (2011) - A Review
As a follow up to my previous post...I should mention that the DVD of the Watcher in the Attic was put out by Mondo Macabro, and it contained a whole slew of teasers for other films they've released on video. This trailer reel was so great, my wife and I watched it three times, and took notes of titles we want to try and track down, mainly crazy looking movies from the 1980s made in Indonesia and the Philippines.
With that search in mind, we went down to the library yesterday and, for the first time in a long time, went through their large collection of foreign DVDs. Though I didn't find any of the specific films we're looking for, I did continue my recent run of "Z" movies (I neglected to mention that another DVD I got from Grocery Outlet was the none-too successful "electric western" Zachariah from 1971). I was very pleased to find a copy of William Castle's Zotz! (1962), which, I believe, is the only one of his gimmick-era films that I haven't seen, though I have read the book. And I stumbled across the recent Japanese film, Karate-Robo Zaborgar.
Apparently intended as an homage to the sci-fi transforming robot TV shows of the 1970s, Zaborgar turned out to be pretty delightful, if an acquired taste. Too adult for kids, and too juvenile for adults (in theory), this is the story of a pair of twin brothers. Raised, and nursed, mind you, by their scientist father, one of the boys dies, but is secretly reborn by being exposed to the element "daimonium," which has the property of turning anything it touches into a robot, or some such strangeness. Whatever.
Anyway, the remaining human brother, Daimon, trains in martial arts for ten years, then becomes a crime fighting "secret agent" aided by his robot companion (and brother) Zaborgar, who, in addition to his human form, can also transform into a motorcycle. Together, Daimon and Zaborgar must fight the evil organization Sigma, who are kidnapping the leaders of the world to extract their DNA in order to build a huge, world conquering robot of their own. Unfortunately for Sigma, this process is taking quite a long time, as it turns out.
But the plot is, I think intentionally, pretty silly, and it's not really necessary to follow it in great detail to enjoy this film, which offers much to laugh and marvel at. Action in the first half of the film includes Zaborgar fighting a Diarrhea Robot, as well as a Bulldog Car Robot. Dialogue runs from goofy exposition to goofy expressions of personal angst, such as "I don't want to be a homicidal robot!"
Then, at the halfway mark, the film jumps to "25 years later," and Daimon is played by a new, older actor. All other returning characters are played by the same actors who played their characters earlier and younger. The leader of Sigma, meanwhile, is still working on his giant robot. It all comes to an end when Daimon and Zaborgar must fight the ultimate weapon of destruction: An immature 20-something woman who is over one hundred stories tall, and talking to her friend Janine on her cellphone - the signal waves from which cause people's heads to explode!
As a menace, it was certainly novel, and a makes for a clear representation of the day-glow, good-natured, good vs. evil silliness of this movie. It has action, robots, robot ninjas, cyborgs, plenty of special effects, martial arts, spy stuff, jokes, drama and tons of colorful costumes and corny music. So, yes, this is a film in which the police officers from the first half of the film become the League of Smiles in the second half - a team of superheroes (without any super powers) who wear insanely bright matching uniforms, and literally launch themselves into the final battle of the film by lighting a fart for propulsion. I told you it was too juvenile for adults, didn't I? Or is that too offensive and adult for children? Whatever.
At any rate, I don't know that I will ever need to see Karate-Robo Zaborgar again, but I certainly did enjoy it last night. The ten year olds and/or cyborgs in your life would probably like it, too. Go, go, Zaborgar!