Friday, July 17, 2009

Spreading The Disaster Germ

Fukkatsu no hi (Virus)(The End)(1980)Directed By Kenji Fukasaku

The best disaster movie you will never see, and basically the prototype of Roland Emmerich's Global Destruction trilogy, "Independence Day" ,"The Day After Tomorrow", and I'd wager a guess from it's trailer, the upcoming "2012", will bring more of the same. If you can get the Japanese cut, it has almost an extra hour, which I imagine probably gave a lot more depth to the film, just a guess. The American version I did get my hands on was pretty good on it's own. This is not really a movie about saving the world so much as surviving the numerous apocalypses the world can throw at you. Even after the entire world population dies at the hands of a super virus, those surviving in Artic research stations (the virus cannot survive the cold) some 8880 men and 8 women. Theres a scene where the women address how 1 on 1 "relationships" are going to be impossible, is one of the most genuine, poignant, and unique in the film, the Apocalypse doesn't hit home till you realize there's 8000 horny scientists, crawling over each other to play Adam and eve, those not-if-you-were-the-last-man-on-earth scenarios horribly reversed. And then you still have to deal with the fact that both the Russian and American automatic nuclear missile systems are still in operation, and a coming earthquake is liable to force them to launch, one of which is pointed at the Antarctic research station. So two men on foot, one Japanese and one American take a trip to DC, to turn off the machine.A lot of the save the world stuff takes place in the last 20 minutes, the rest is all death and survival.This was at the time of it's release the most expensive Japanese film ever made, and it shows, as we get scenes from Germany, Japan, America, and yes the Antarctic, real submarines too. If you sat through "Outbreak", "Deep Impact", and many of the now numerous end of the world films, this wont be anything too new, there are some scenes which are undeniably cheesy(the "walk" at the end). However, because I've got a U.S. cut, and U.S. cuts, as a rule of thumb, are generally dumbed down and streamlined, sad but true. So I don't know how to give an accurate review, this movie as it is at the 108 minutes I saw it, was decent with a fair serving of 80's cheese, I have a feeling though with a little more time, this might have felt as epic and grand as it intimates in it's best moments. "Virus" is also a terrible title for this film as well, which has little to do with virus', or bacteriology, it's a good global destruction movie, "The End" is a much better fitting moniker. Director would go on to later success with "Battle Royale".Note: I picked this movie up because it gets referenced a lot in Junot Diaz's "The Brief And Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao" as the title characters favorite film, and in the right cornball sentimental context, I can see why.

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