Devilman (2004)

October 22, 2009 - 11:32pm | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: Ai Tominaga, Asian Horror, Asuka Shibuya, Ayana Sakai, based on anime, Bob Sapp, devilman, Hiroyuki Nasu, Hisato Izaki, japan, japanese, Ryudo Uzaki, Yôko Aki, Yûsuke Izaki

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Hiroyuki Nasu
Hisato Izaki, Yûsuke Izaki, Ayana Sakai, Asuka Shibuya, Ryudo Uzaki, Yôko Aki, Ai Tominaga, Bob Sapp

This is the live-action version of the Devilman OVA (original video anime) and manga series in Japan. The manga dates back to the early 70's, which also spawned a year-long animated series. It wasn't until the late 80's and early 90's that we saw a rebirth of the series in OVA form. It also spawned a Devillady spinoff in '98. I've seen the two early OVAs and the Devillady series, but I don't believe I've seen the short OVA that came out in 2000, nor have I desired to see the original 70s' series. I can't say that I'm a fan of the anime, but I did find it quite interesting. When I heard they were making a live-action version I was curious to see how it'd turn out. Though, when I first viewed the trailer I questioned whether it was even live-action since most of the footage shown was jam-packed with computer effects. Now having viewed the film I have to say that they should have spent more time on the script, because it's a mess.

The film combines many elements from the OVAs that I've seen, and even hinting at a Devillady, although we don't actually see her. The story basically follows a skinny dweeb who becomes a half-demon or "Devilman" after the accidental release of some sort of supernatural force within the Antarctic. This virus somehow spreads throughout the rest of the world, turning normal people into demonic beings and causing amok among society. Now it's up to the Devilman to attempt to put a stop to the madness. The movie has a lot of small sub-plots, like how normal people become paranoid of others when they show sign of something different. This eventually leads to unruly mobs and vigilantism. The government also creates a place to quarantine supposed "demons". All of this is shown, but never fully explored or explained, but then there are a lot of things in this film that were never explained.

The biggest problem I have with the movie aside from the numerous plot-holes would be the hacky acting by the leads, who just happen to be teen pop-idols in Japan. Actually, most of the lead cast are either teen idols or models. Speaking of bad cast-choices, who do we get as an American newscaster but six-foot-five-inch, 250+ lb former NFL player-turned-actor Bob Sapp, whom you may have seen in films like Elektra and The Longest Yard remake. This film really tested his acting abilities by forcing him to use more than the usual "looking tough and mean" form of acting, like when it was called for him to look scared, he made sure to move his eyes around a lot and say "oh my god" a couple times. Why most of Japan would even broadcast an American news station is beyond me, but I guess that was the only way director Hiroyuki Nasu was able to show how the virus spread through the globe, and very poorly so.

The story is just plain cluttered and loaded with scenes that don't make sense. Like for one instance when the lead Fudo (Hisato Izaki) and his love interest go to a church (while demons are still popping up over the world) only to talk about how they want to spend their futures together. What the hell? How does that benefit the story? Then in the end we're treated to a final showdown between the Devilman and his best friend, whom also got special powers the same time Fudo (Devilman) did. I have to admit by this point I dozed off a couple times, but from what I saw it looked like a great cinematic from a newly-released PS2 game. Good work on the CGI guys (sarcasm). I have to admit that even though the movie had a lot of problems, I still liked the plot of demons popping up over the world and causing society as we know it turn upside down, and eventually leading to the end of the world. After everything's said and done, the flick fails; leaving fans of the anime rolling their eyes; appalled by this live-action addition to series.

After the long wait I had to endure after its release in Japan back in October of '04, I am severely disappointed. Not only was the story a huge mess, but the acting and leads were horrible. Casting a former NFL player as a news reporter? What a waste. See this flick if you like video game cinematics, because that's what it feels like you're watching when witnessing all the lame computer effects.

Author Information

FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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