It’s easy to be a little confused by watching the trailer for Karate-Robo Zaborgar, the new film by Noboru Iguchi director of Mutant Girl Squad and Robogeisha. The trailer doesn’t feature any of his trademark blood splatter or gore, but in fact resembles more of a grown up tribute to kid’s shows like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers or Transformers. Don’t be alarmed by this confusion because that’s exactly what it is. Based on 1970’s Japanese TV series Denjin Zaborgar, Karate-Robo Zaborgar is what Americans have been sorely lacking from remakes of TV shows from our youth – this movie is actually good.
High above the city in their sinister floating headquarters, evil cyborg agency Sigma is kidnapping government officials and scientists in order to extract their DNA to create a giant robot. The only thing that can stop them is secret agent Daimon and his robot/brother/motorcycle sidekick Zaborgar. In the midst of battling Sigma’s crazy robots, Daimon falls for Sigma agent Miss Borg. He and Zaborgar have a falling out, and Daimon retires from crime-fighting. The film then begins its second “episode” by flash forwarding 25 years to reveal an older, slower Daimon with back problems and a job as a taxi driver. Daimon must reunite with Zaborgar once again now that Sigma has finally completed their DNA robot and is ready to unleash it on the city.
Iguchi has already proven to be a master of the absurd, and he’s certainly the perfect choice to walk the very fine line between campy and just plain idiotic. Zaborgar features bulldog tanks, diarrhea robots, robot girls with dragons coming out of their bra, and a giant robot teenager destroying a city with her cell phone banter – and it all looks GOOD. Iguchi smartly decided to keep the kitschy look of the original TV series, but with a budget.
Karate-Robo Zaborgar is so incredibly self aware in its humor too, with punchy one-liners, pop culture references, and Three Stooges-like physical humor. The end credits even feature scenes from the 70’s TV series that the movie recreated, and the comparisons aren’t too far off. The result is an explosive action film that will entertain genre fans more than that other giant robot movie based on a TV show that came out this summer. Americans take note: THIS is how you take a cult favorite TV show and turn it into a movie.
Release info: If you’re interested in seeing this movie, it was announced on 7/20/11 that Karate-Robo Zaborgar and the rest of the current Sushi Typhoon titles were going to be getting American distribution thanks to Well Go USA. Release dates should follow soon.
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Notable Cast: Itsuji Itao, Yasuhisa Furuhara, Mami Yamasaki, Yuya Miyashita, Akira Emoto