Blu-ray Review: Kamen Rider Kuuga (The Complete Series)

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When I was a kid in the ’70s, Japan was a land of TV cultural wonders. This was where the best color monster movies in came from. We couldn’t get enough Godzilla and Gamera. Their TV series included Speed Racer, Ultra Man, Space Giants and more. We knew there were more cool movies and TV shows in the Land of the Rising Sun thanks to occasionally seeing a magazine with photos or being told by those who were stationed overseas. I first encountered Kamen Rider in a magazine photo, but wouldn’t see it for decades. The show began airing on Japanese TV in 1971 with the story of a motorcycle rider who turns into a buggy superhero. Kamen Rider would have been perfect in the ’70s when kids were glued to the TV waiting to see the next Evel Knievel motorcycle stunt. This could have been a big hit except it wasn’t imported to America until 1995. The people behind Power Rangers tweaked and butchered the show to make it The Masked Rider. It was a flop. Decades after that disaster, seasons of Kamen Rider are finally getting released in America without any “upgrades.” Kamen Rider Kuuga: The Complete Series includes all 49 episodes of the 10th installment that ran in 2000.

A mountain cave is being excavated by university archeologists when they discover a tomb. Inside is a Kamen Rider. But there’s more inside the cave. Turns out the Kamen Rider had sealed inside the Grongi Tribe. They were an evil group. When the college team removes the Kuuga’s stone belt, they allow the evil beings to rise and seek revenge on the family members of those that imprisoned them. Yusuke Godai (Pumpkin and Mayonnaise‘s Joe Odagiri) is a happy go lucky guy dating Kaoru Ichijo (Ju-On: The Grudge 2’s Shingo Katsurayama). She is part of the dig which is how Yusuke finds himself near the Kuuga stone belt. He becomes obsessed and compelled to wear the belt. When a Grongi shows up to retake the belt, Yusuke put it around his waist and discovers he is now Kamen Rider Kuuga. He transforms and is able to fight up the powerful creature.

Over the course of the 49 episodes, Yusuke and Kaoru have serious battles with the Grongi. The powerful and elusive creatures don’t want to be forced back into the cave. The episodes are action packed. There’s more fighting than talking. It’s almost like pro wrestling with monster outfits. Watching the episodes without having them getting Americanized is more enticing and entertaining. There’s plenty going on that doesn’t need to be translated like fighting in helicopters and cool motorcycle stunts. Kamen Rider Kuuga: The Complete Series will rescue your after-school afternoons or after-work evenings.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. It get a sense that the series was shot on High-Definition video. Things look fine with great and goofy special effects during the fight scenes. The audio is DTS-HD MA 2.0 in Japanese. There’s no English dub. The subtitles are in English with and without the Grongi lines translated. If you want to side with the monsters, you’ll turn them on.

No bonus features.

Shout! Factory presents Kamen Rider Kuuga: The Complete Series. Starring Joe Odagiri, Shingo Katsurayama, Kazumi Murata, Wakana Chizaki, Kitaro, Mie Nanamori & Kenji Urai. Boxset contains 49 episodes on 7 Blu-ray discs. Release Date: September 20, 2022.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.