“Try as I might, it’s very hard for me to imagine this movie being anything other than awesome.”That was me, back in October of 2009, talking about the 1976 Taiwanese fantasy movie War God. If you’re a fatalist like me, you’ll recognize that those words couldn’t have been more designed to be eaten than if they’d been sprinkled with jimmies. At the time, however, I felt safe in uttering them, due to the fact that there seemed little chance that I would ever actually see War God. Furthermore, they were conveyed via the internet, where it’s common practice to throw the word “awesome” at things that are either contingent, lost to the ages, or completely imaginary. Truthfully, it is only in such a limbo state that we net rats actually allow ourselves to enjoy a thing -- knowing as we do that, should it beat the odds and actually make its way into our waking world, the cruel mathematics of nerd expectations will guaranty that it’s made of 100% Fail.
Tars Tarkas, a dedicated hunter of tantalizing-sounding lost films who’s a great friend to have if you like having, not even carrots, but hazy, low resolution photographs of carrots dangled in front of your nose all the time. From the materials that Tars unearthed, the film appeared to be a Japanese style giant monster mash -- directed, no less, by Chen Hung Min of Little Hero fame –- in which a battleship-sized version of the revered historical figure-cum-deity Guan Yu protects Hong Kong from a trio of equally mammoth alien invaders. For Tars as for me, the mere sight of the faded old lobby cards and publicity stills was the only spark needed to fuel an enduring obsession. The mere idea of War God had us dancing around excitedly like two grown men for whom the idea of a film featuring a man in a rubber monster suit giving a thumping to another man in a rubber monster suit while standing amidst a field of model skyscrapers was somehow both new and novel, while, in reality, we were two grown men who had seen literally dozens upon dozens of such films. This is the sort of thing that is, within our particular circle, referred to in hushed tones as The Sickness. And we had it bad.
But, having come, did it really ruin anything?
precedent for such a thing). Upon seeing the film, however, and observing the relatively crude nature of its model work and costumes, I began to suspect that this was not the case.
Achilles Girl in Actionland blog indicates that the film was originally marketed, at least in part, as a disaster film. And, indeed, these aforementioned aspects of the film echo to a great extent the smug, God’s eye moralizing of Irwin Allen’s disaster epics of the period, in which, no matter how random nature was in its depredations, it always took great care to ensure that the “bad” people –- the unscrupulous developers, the adulterers, and especially those foolish mortals hubristic enough to think that they were above harm -- got especially fucked up. This, then, is the unique fusion that War God accomplishes, melding in equal parts the sensibilities of the 1960s Kaiju Eiga and the 1970s Hollywood disaster drama.
This review is part of a special crossover event between 4DK and TarsTarkas.NET. Be sure to check out Tars' take on War God over at his site.