In honor of the wonderful Valentine’s/Birthday/Father’s Day/Christmas present my wife gave me, I am featuring giant things this week. Big Man Japan (Dai-Nihonjin) is currently available on instant Netflix.
WATCH: Big Man Japan (2007) – Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and crude humor.
“In this hilarious mockumentary, middle-aged Daisato (Hitoshi Matsumoto) — a second-rate, third-generation superhero — annoys his neighbors with the noise and destruction he causes on the job. But a heroic public image is the least of his concerns. Besides defending Japan from bizarre monsters, he must deal with an agent seeking to brand him with ads, a superhero grandfather with Alzheimer’s and a family embarrassed by his incompetence.”
“I like that they only get big when you need them to.” (folding umbrellas)
“You sink of smoke” (Yes, sink)
“He ran called the shots…” (Yes ran called)
I’m not sure if the botched subtitles are real or part of the joke.
The first twenty minutes are a documentary crew interviewing a boring loser. He is unutterably depressing and depressed. I’d wonder what the payoff was going to be but obviously the description gives it away. Just after the twenty-minute mark our subject, Daisato transforms into Big Man Japan.
We get a big fight scene. I did very much enjoy that Big Man really was just a Big Man with a stick.
Afterwards the documentary crew interviews people on the street until Big Man gradually becomes Daisato then we pick up where we left off. Rinse and repeat and you have the whole film.
There are jokes about sponsorship and merchandising but that is done far better by Greg Kinear in Mystery Men. I did like how the film crew interrupts the sacred ceremony and asks them to restart from “Yayyy” to get a better shot.
The humor in the film is exceptionally dry. Nothing is actually played for laughs even though it is clear that this was meant to be a comedy. There are no nods to the audience – the whole film stays in documentary mode throughout (except for the finale). The single word that comes to mind is surreal.
The creatures Big Man has to face are hysterically weird. To describe them would be to spoil some of the fun of the film. Big Man’s fight scenes are short and humorous.
The finale of the film morphs from a mockumentary to a really bad Japanese TV show. Trust me – even if you are going with the flow on this surreal film, when it hits this point you will definitely be going “What?!?”
Big Man Japan is presented on instant Netflix in HD with subtitles.
I recommend this film with some reservations. You will have to read subtitles and the reason to enjoy this film is how absolutely bizarre it is. It has a definite Japanese mindset to it and I’m not even sure I can say it’s fun. It is however different from anything you have ever seen.
People Watch: Takashi Miike favorite Riki Takeuchi (Battle Royale series, Dead or Alive series) appears as Haneru-no-ju. Also there is a lady who wears some absolutely fabulous dragon stockings in the film.