Monday, May 22, 2017

Dogora, Space Monsters and a Femme Fatale in Japan

Akiko Wakabayashi is best known to American audiences as a beautiful Bond girl in "You Only Live Twice." Sultry and mysterious, she was one of the most famous actresses in Japan in the 1960s. Take this beauty, dress her in black, give her a gun and a double-crossing nature, and we have a perfect femme-fatale.  But wait!  Put her in a crime thriller or gangster film? That's not what Toho did...nope, Ms. Wakabayashi stars in this Japanese monster film, 1964's "Dogora" as a sultry femme-fatale. Do the two mix?  If Akiko Wakabayashi is the dangerous lady...who cares?
Kinda complicated, but well worth it. A jellyfish -like space monster takes out Earth's satellites, and the invasion begins.  Simultaneously, a gang of ruthless diamond thieves hit, or try to, Tokyo jewelry stores.  The thieves are perplexed as the stolen diamonds disappear shortly after the thefts.  Detective Kommei (Yosuke Natsuki) is on the case. Wondering where their stolen loot went to, femme-fatale Hamako (Wakabayashi) is sent to find them.  While avoiding Kommei, she pursues the mysterious Mark (Robert Dunham) who appears to be a newcomer in Japan's jewelry thief industry.  As diamonds mines and stores keep getting hit, it is apparent that the culprit is not of this Earth.
Earth's coal supplies and diamond supplies are sucked up into the clouds by a mysterious force. This menace turns out to be a space jellyfish which will eventually suck up the entire planet if not destroyed. Japan's military is no match for this tentacled beast.  Hamako sees this as an opportunity to rip off her gang leader and flee with the diamonds. Okay...stop here. Slimy jellyfish space monster invades Tokyo, putting a cramp in a jewel thief gang's operation. The story is average, but add a sultry femme-fatale and a cool creature, and now we have something.
Will femme-fatale, turned damsel in much distress Hamako be able to evade a pursuing jellyfish creature and the gang she betrayed? Is that question a metaphor for the duality of the human-creature?  Will post-war Tokyo be sent back to the state it was in during the summer of 1945?  If Veronica Lake made monster movies, would her career have been extended. Fans of Toho monster films will enjoy "Dogora," and so will femme-fatale fans.  Get ready for an ending which brings the monster on a collision course with Japan's most notorious criminal gang, and enjoy "Dogora" (directed by Ishiro Honda- the guy who directed "Godzilla").

2 comments:

  1. I have seen Godzilla & I am a huge Ultraman fan. Other than Kurosawa, I can't say I have sampled much in the way of Japanese films. This one does sound entertaining. Good review, Christopher.

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  2. I saw this a long time ago and thought it was pretty cool. You don't hear much about this one, I wonder how many other Japenesse gems like this exist. I have faith Chris will find them, great review bud.

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