Review: GAMERA VS. JIGER (1970)

There is a big fight feel in the air with GAMERA VS. JIGER, a smackdown for the ages from 1970. This is the sixth movie in the giant turtle series, with Noriaki Yuasa once again in the director’s chair. The screenplay is by Fumi Takahashi and the cinematography by Akira Kitazaki captures every punch, kick, heat ray, and poison dart in this epic battle between monsters. The score by Shunsuke Kikuchi features a theme song delivered with an almost absurd degree of joy by a small gang of children.

The year is 1970, which means Osaka is preparing for Expo ’70. Young Hiroshi (Tsutomu Takakuwa) is excited, as are his pals Tommy (Kelly Varis) and Susan (Katherine Murphy). The festivities include the construction of several exhibits, one of which involves a statue from Wester Island. Gamera arrives to prevent the effigy from being removed from the island, but the humans won’t be stopped. It is soon revealed that the statue has been holding a creature called Jiger at bay. With the monster loose, Osaka’s Expo ’70 is in serious jeopardy.

jiger2

GAMERA VS. JIGER is one of the most entertaining entries in the series thus far because it is so damn silly. From its humble beginnings as a corny advertisement for Expo ’70, complete with a character detailing its date and location, to its extraordinary fight sequences, Yuasa has really hit his goofy stride with this one. The human element is also impressive, with Hiroshi’s father (Kon Ômura) unafraid of sending his son anywhere and everywhere – including inside Gamera via a mini submarine.

For all the absurdity of performing an internal exam on a giant turtle or the consistent undermining of poor Miwako (Junko Yashiro), the battle scenes knock this one out of the park. The two monsters duel like proficient fighters and Gamera learns from each bout, figuring out new ways to avoid Jiger’s dart attacks and progressing his movements to finally take the thing out. He has a lot of time to work on his game plan, as he spends big chunks of the movie either flat on his back or disabled under the sea with an egg in his lung. Life is tough, even for Gamera.

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