Gina really got a kick out of the first DAIMAJIN movie, and asked to watch the rest of the franchise with me as soon as possible. So as soon as possible, we popped the second movie in to see where the Majin’s continued adventures would take him. Well, we were quick to discover that the DAIMAJIN trilogy is pretty damn loose – it’s almost better to think of the films as three separate Part 1s instead of Parts 1, 2 and 3, as there’s no direct link between the three films except the existence of the Majin himself. Let’s take a look at the second film, released just months after the first, shall we?
This is a story of three villages. The villages of Chigusa and Nakoshi, linked through various aristocratic marriages and pledges of loyalty, are on opposite shores of a large lake, and are prosperous, happy places to live. As such, refugees from the miserable mountain village of Mikoshiba, fleeing from their cruel master Lord Danjo, frequently seek freedom in Chigusa.
Lord Danjo, understandably, isn’t happy about his peasants fleeing to happy, prosperous Chigusa, His solution is to wait until the nobility of Chigusa and Nakoshi are celebrating a joint holiday centered around God’s Island, an island in the center of the lake occupied by a giant statue that contains the spirit of the Majin.
Mikoshiba warriors, smuggled into Chigusa disguised as bales of straw, quickly throw open the gates to the rest of the Mikoshiba army, throwing the village into chaos and taking Katsushige Nakoshi, the son of Nakoshi’s lord, hostage. His sister, Lady Sayuri, flees to God’s Island with her fiance, Lord Juro Chigusa (Kojiro Hongo, who starred in GAMERA VS. BARUGON the same year, and also had roles in GAMERA VS. GYAOS and GAMERA VS. VIRAS). She prays to the Majin to save Chigusa and Nakoshi from the Mikoshiba, but instead is forced to watch as the Mikoshiba blast the statue to tiny bits with an enormous charge of gunpowder.
Blown up or not, it’s only a matter of time before Daimajin rises from the lake, and then it’s not long before Lord Danjo is reconsidering the wisdom of his attempted conquest…
Not as good, in my opinion, as the first film, but a damn sight better than you’d expect it being knowing that it was released three months after the first (I’ve read some conflicting reports on various sites, but it looks like the three films were shot more or less simultaneously).
I think my biggest issue is that the human drama just feels so much less compelling this time around. The characters were less interesting to me than they were the first time around, and I especially thought that, in terms of personality and what they bring to the story, Lord Juro and Katsushige were basically interchangeable, and Lady Sayuri just felt bland after Princess Kozasa in the previous film. Worse, this time around we get comedy relief in the form of Lady Sayuri’s bumbling, heavy-set bodyguard.
I hate comic relief characters in otherwise-serious movies.
Worse still, Daimajin himself feels oddly neutered; in the previous film, he squashed a guy into paste against the side of a building and nailed another guy to a rock with a chisel through the chest. This time, he pushes over some walls and almost steps on a kid but that’s about it. His rampage of destruction is very brief and very bloodless, and while it’s what I’d expect from just about any other kaiju film of this era, it’s not what I’d been led to expect from a Daimajin movie.
That being said, there are some amazing visuals to be seen here; I’m especially fond of a scene in which Daimajin parts the waters of the lake, Moses-style, in order to march across and stomp occupied Chigusa flat. It’s a beautifully shot sequence and the colors on the Blu-Ray release are incredible as Daimajin slowly and deliberately strides down a tunnel of roaring water. Also, when was the last time you saw a city-stomping (okay, village-stomping) monster emulate Charlton Heston?
Final Analysis: While not as unrelentingly brutal as the first film and with a less-compelling human element, WRATH OF DAIMAJIN remains beautifully shot and a wonder to see. Definitely a weaker film then it’s predecessor, Daimajin himself remains the primary draw and his palette of emotions has expanded from simply “rage” to include “irritation,” “contempt” and “more rage.” I might not recommend this one as readily to the casual viewer, but for diehard fans of the genre it has its rewards.
Overall, I give WRATH OF DAIMAJIN (1966)…
THREE BARRELS OF TOXIC WASTE.