Tuesday, 17 March 2015

March Monsters: Yongary, Monster from the Deep (aka Taekoesu Yonggary) (1967)

Yongary, Monster from the Deep (aka Taekoesu Yonggary)
Director: Ki-duk Kim
Starring: Yeong-il Oh, Jeong-im Nam, and Sun-jae Lee
Running Time: 80 min

  This looks like a fun "Godzilla" knock off from South Korea.  I don't recognize the director, Ki-duk Kim, although he has an extensive catalog of films, and none of the actors pop out either, so I'm flying blind on this one and hoping that this is as humorous as it looks.

  After their marriage ceremony, an astronaut/scientist man and the daughter of a top government official depart for their honeymoon and the rest family joke about how their other daughter and another scientist Ilo will probably be getting married next. Ha Ha Ha Ha!
  Meanwhile in the car a few miles ahead, the astronaut/scientist groom and his bride are being driven to their honeymoon location, but they are attacked by some sunlight that flashes on them, which makes them very itchy and they ask their driver to pull over.  Unfortunately, they cannot stop itching even outside the car.  Luckily, Ilo pulls up behind them and finds the culprit who is causing them to itch hiding in the bushes.  It's The bride's little brother, Suna!  He has stolen a experimental weapon from Ilo's workshop to play a trick on his sister and her new husband by trying to make them itch to death! Ha Ha Ha Ha!  Ilo takes the weapon away from the little scamp and then he and Suna wish the happy couple all the best and drive back home.
  Sadly, the honeymoon is cut short because just as the astronaut looks like he's going to launch his rocket into his wife's celestial spaces, he gets a call from her dad, the top government official.  He tells his astronaut/son in-law that the Middle East is doing some nuclear testing and that the astronaut has to go into space for some reason.  So, the astronaut groom puts off exploring the new frontier with his bride and heads into work.  He goes into space and after some minor difficulties, he then returns and everyone is happy. Ha Ha Ha Ha!
  Meanwhile, the testing in the Middle East has caused some sort of weird earthquake that seems to be moving into South Korea.  Eventually it arrives and it's not an Earthquake, but the legendary reptile creature Yongary!  Who was awakened, I'm guessing, from the nuclear testing and is looking for a snack.  Yongary smashes his way through cities and crushes any military presence sent to contain the monster.  However, Ilo feels that he can stop it with, well he doesn't have a plan yet but he knows he can stop this gigantic creature, so he takes off to help battle it with his girlfriend and her younger brother, Suna in tow.
  When they arrive in the city that Yongary is smashing, Ilo and his girlfriend lose Suna in some Yongary smashing mix up.  Ilo realizes that he can't do shit and runs away with his girlfriend.  Unfortunately, the obnoxious Suna is still alive and travels through the sewers and eventually comes up in a oil refinery plant.  But guess who else is there... Yongary!  Who is drinking himself stupid on oil.  After a few gallons, his tail destroys something that contains a white powder substance that make Yongary stagger around.  Watching Yongary covered in the white powdery substance and dancing around looks like your least favourite relative at a wedding with a free bar.  However, Suna thinks he has discovered a plan to stop this monster and runs back to town to tell Ilo!  Can Suna and Ilo stop this monster in his giant tracks or will South Korea fall victim to a serious stomping by the legendary Yongary?! Ha Ha Ha Ha!

  This is a very charming and fun Godzilla-esque monster movie.  Sure it's G rated and lacks any real story, but it does have a monster that likes to party.  It drinks like a fish, it dances, white powdery substances makes it go crazy and I'm sure if it could talk, it would telling you the most offensive jokes that it could think of,  "What do you get when you cross Godzilla and blender?"...  Anyway,   Yongary is like that one friend, you're always afraid to bring to parties because you think they might embarrass you.  This monster is a lot of fun to watch awkwardly stumble around the city looking for something to drink, kinda of like I did in my teens and twenties and I think this is why I find him so amusing.
  Also, I love the miniatures and the monster suit.  Sure, it's not perfect and you can tell at times that they are remote control but there is something so amusing and adorable about these lower budget monster sets.  Everything is so well crafted but director Ki-duk Kim just can't push it into the realistic looking level and that's okay because it's part of the charm of the film.  As well as the monster suit, which is great for back then but it lacks any real mobility and you can see the enormous hole where the fire is coming from when it is using it's fire breathing attack.  Again, this is okay because it just adds to the camp factor of the film and reminds me of the scenes with Bobcat Goldthwait in "One Crazy Summer", where he is trapped in the monster suit.

   What the film is truly lacking is a cohesive story and a focus on a central character.  The story keeps shifting it's focus from the astronaut/groom to Ilo for most of the beginning of the film and eventually stays with Ilo and Suna to tie it all up.  This can be a bit confusing and it negates a lot of reasoning on why the astronaut/groom went to space or why we should really care about him at all.  It would have been better to just center our attention on Ilo, his scientific work and build it up to how that will help destroy this monster.  Which it kind of does in an ass backwards kind of way.
  Also the ending is a little awkward after the final battle with Yongary.  There is a lot of smiling and laughing, in what seems to be a more solemn moment.  Director Ki-duk Kim tries to make the Yongary character/monster likeable and even has a dance scene with Suna, which makes you think this creature isn't all bad, it likes 60's rock and maybe it just doesn't understand what it's doing.  Then at the end of the film, the only person not laughing and smiling is Suna, who recognizes what has really just happened and has some real sympathy for the creature but it is only momentarily.  I understand that it's just a silly monster movie but it's hard to play it both ways, light and fun but trying to inject this deeper undertone into the film.  It doesn't really work here and it just makes the other characters look cold and callous in the end.

  However, the film is still very good for a 60's big lizard flick that you can watch with anybody.  There is no real looking violence in this and there are some decent special effects and miniatures in this.  On top of that, Yongary can be a fun monster to hang out with, once you get to know him.  So, if you're looking for a party monster that will level your living room for an hour and give you a chuckle, invite Yongary over for your next B-Movie monster party! 



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