Monster X Strikes Back -- Attack the G8 Summit



Venice Film Festival

VENICE – At a time when political comedies are rare, certainly in Japan where social decorum and guardedly uptight behavior are the norm, Minoru Kawasaki's "Monster X Strikes Back – Attack the G8 Summit" ("Guilala No Gyakushu — Toyako Summit Kiki Ippatsu") seems a refreshing departure, even commendable.

World leaders are ridiculed, their selfishness exposed, their inter-personal rivalries displayed and weaknesses bared in a work that certainly has little arthouse value, but is bound to get people into the cinemas.

This is a highly implausible story of G8 Summit leaders in Japan's Hokkaido being threatened by a monster that emerges from a nearby site where China's Mars probe had crashed. The film follows the hideous creature as it blows up buildings and crushes cars. Although Tokyo wants to call off the summit, the U.S. president (who resembles Bill Clinton) does not want to be seen as a "cowardly dog scampering away with its tail between its legs."

This is the only way to get the public ratings up, he feels, and the other leaders decide to go along with him. Attempts by Japan, Italy and Russia, for instance, to destroy the monster, named Guilala, fail with the president not missing the chance to lampoon them.

While he himself does little to tame the monster, the French president (a Sarkozy look-a-like) seems the least worried of the lot, slipping away from the venue to drink, dine and make love. Finally, a journalist, Sumire (Natsuki Kato), and her cameraman (Kazuki Kato) find the answer through the inhabitants of a strange village who use the power of spiritualism.

Kawasaki rose to cult fame making low-budget satires including "Nihon Igai Zembu Chinbotsu" ("The World Sinks Except Japan") in 2006, but his latest work appears far more ambitious in content though weak in effects, and is in a way a subtle indictment of a world gone increasingly nuclear. A sequence of the North Korean leader sneaking into the venue and using a nuclear missile to finish off Japan illustrates this.

Interestingly, the summit that has been called to discuss the environment soon becomes a platform for one-upmanship and a naked exhibition of power, even nuclear. However, the monster's antics are not impressive enough, and the film often seems to run out of action and ideas.

Production company: Tornado Film
Cast:  Natsuki Kato, Kazuki Kato
Director: Minoru Kawasaki.
Screenwriters: Minoru Kawasaki, Masakazu Migita.
Producers: Minoru Kawasaki, Shinobu Suzuki, Masanobu Suzuki, Shuntaro Kanai, Koichi Shioda.
Director of photography: Takashi Suga.
Production designer: Tetsuya Uchida.
Music: Yasuhiko Fukuda.
Costume designers: Kenji Kawasaki, Masatoshi Utsumi.
Editor:  Yosuke Yafune.
No rating, 98 minutes.