Gentle readers I bring you the tale of a giant monster FIFTY TIMES THE SIZE OF T-REX!!! Shim Hyung Rae, the director of Reptillian, must have spent hours and hours and hours reverse engineering the Roland Emmerich/Dean Devlin monster fiasco that was Godzilla. Because Reptillian is a knock off like the Elantra is a knock off of the Corolla. There is no other explanation for Reptillian that I can think of.
Now I know that back in the 1960’s Korea entered the giant monster movie business with the original Yongary, Monster from the Deep. I actually remember the original as an okay knock off of the Toho standards, but I wouldn’t stay inside on a nice day to watch it on Creature Double Feature.
Anyway. The story of how Reptillian came to be is rather interesting if for nothing else. Shim Hyung rae wanted to take Korean cinema to the world, and what better way to do it than by springing a giant monster flick onto the festival circuit? The idea that Korea could make a ground breaking giant monster movie that was not specifically enjoyable only by Koreans seems rather strange. Godzilla is very popular in Japan, and with a limited number of people here in the US of A, but Toho doesn't target their latest flicks at the American audience. There isn't any money in it.
The world is divided into two kinds of people: Those that dig giant monster movies, and those that hate giant monster movies. A further division is: People who are Korean, and people who are not Korean.
Knowing those divisions, why would a guy like Shim Hyung Rae want to make a movie that appealed to a small percentage of the population made even smaller if you consider that only Koreans are Korean?
I think perhaps the repeated viewing of Emmerich and Devlin’s Godzilla must have tapioca-ed his brain. There can’t possibly be another reason. Oh, and to further exploit the divisions, there ain’t a Korean in the movie that has a single line.
But, on with the film.
We begin in a cave. The sort of cave that apparently has a self-lighting mechanism as blue light exudes from the rock around our first group of characters. Cut to one of them, apparently lost, he is an old man. His name is Dr. Hughes (Harrison Young). He will be the single funniest character in the movie. Not because he says anything funny, oh no, because this man simply cannot act.
Imagine William Shatner in a tampon commercial earnestly explaining his problems with monthly menstrual discharge.
it would be more believable than Dr. Hughes.
This is one awesome cave too. Every wall, ever speck of floor space, and every stalagmite hold the bones of some prehistoric animal. It would be a paleontological wonderland if it weren’t so obviously a set. I mean, there ain’t a rock on the floor, no dripping water, no bats, cockroaches, dermestid beetles, nothing, nada, zip... It’s a goddamn set and it shows.
Well, we get introduced to the second funniest element of this film immediately after. Dr Campbell (Richard B. Livingston). He is apparently running this dig and cares not for the safety of Dr. Hughes as evidenced by this exchange:
Fat uncredited guy: I think I heard Dr. Hughes... We should go look for him.
Dr. Campbell: No
Fat uncredited guy: But... but...
Dr Campbell: I said no.
Ahh, it’s like Hemmingway isn’t it? I have not yet mentioned the script (but then until now no one has said anything so I guess it’s okay). The entire script is one really long direct-to-video-action-movie cliché. The dialogue is stunningly bad, and mixed with the unbelievably stilted acting of every single cast member, it makes “Carnosaur 8: Carnosaur and Pikachu”, look like Shakespeare.
There is so much expository dialogue here it almost feels like you are listening to someone relay the story to you. This has its benefits such as occasionally forgetting you are watching Reptillian and instead thinking you are listening to your asylum roommate suffer night terrors.
As the film progresses Dr. Campbell and his intrepid assistant Holly (Donna Philipson) have unearthed about half of a giant monster skeleton. Well, they didn’t actually do it, a bunch of non-Korean non-American laborers have done it. What possessed Shim Hyung Rae to give these people lines is beyond me. At first I thought they were speaking Korean, but no, after a few seconds I realized it was English. Yeesh.
Enter the single most annoying character in the history of Korean giant monster cinema, Bud Black (Brad Sergi). He is a photojournalist, or so we are told through even more exposition, assigned to this giant dinosaur story by his unscrupulous boss. Bud Black is supposed to be the same kind of character as Hank Azaria’s “The Animal” from Emmerich/Devlin Godzilla. You know, reckless and edgy, however unlike Hank Azaria, Bud Black succeeds only in annoying the viewer while having expository conversations WITH HIMSELF!!!!
Meanwhile on the other side of the moon. No I am not kidding, stop laughing! A giant space ship (that actually looks rather cool), is approaching Earth. Apparently the aliens piloting this spacecraft brought the giant dinosaur to Earth some 400 million years ago.
See if you can guess how we learn this? If you said expository dialogue, go get yourself a cookie.
Dr. Hugh sneaks into Holly’s tent and utters some asinine expository yet still threatening dialogue. Dr. Campbell has Hugh thrown out.
KOREAN ALERT! One of the workers is a Korean.
Cut back to the dig site. Some non-Korean workers are apparently standing guard over the skeleton. Cut to the space ship which is charging some sort of energy beam thingy. Cut back to the guards looking up (apparently they can “hear” the aliens powering up their ray gun). Cut again to the space ship which fires a beam down over the skeleton and evaporates the two men.
No one else notices until the next morning when their remains are found in a big crater. Holly wants Dr. Campbell to notify the authorities. Instead, he fires her. Consider the logic in this action. Holly threatens to tell the cops that people are dying. Rather than try and console her and dupe her into saying nothing. Dr. Campbell fires her and has her removed from the site.
Worse yet. Holly is such a moron that she completely neglects to notify anyone once she is free of Dr. Campbell’s madness. If it were me, as soon as I bumped into a pay phone I would have been dialing 911. But hey, I am not an idiot.
Meanwhile Bud Black Cub Reporter guy, is snapping photos of the dead bodies. Dr. Campbell snatches his camera and exposes the film. Poor Bud Black... Wanker... Anyway, the non-Korean diggers don’t want to work anymore and threaten to leave the site too, but Campbell threatens to tell the authorities that they are all illegal aliens if they don’t make with the digging. The non-Korean diggers are all morons, so they continue to dig.
That night, intercut with a scene of Bud Black expositorying himself, another guard is killed when the aliens blast the skeleton with another beam. Again Bud Black snaps some pics of the body and again Dr. Campbell ruins the film.
Man this is getting predictable...
Anyway, in a scene that should have been flushed down the cutting room toilet. Bud and Dr. Campbell have a night of male bonding over a bottle of scotch. Cut to Holly checking into a Best Western hotel. She has some expository dialogue with a phone, then with a bartender. Dr Hugh who has been stalking Holly for a few minutes joins her in the bar. They have some expository dialogue.
Man... this is worse than a pre-school reading circle.
Okay. Back at Holly’s hotel room Dr. Hugh shows her some rubbings from inside the cave set... I mean, the cave. They fortell of a giant monster destroying mankind. Holly and Dr. Hugh head back to the camp.
It’s nighttime now, again... er... I guess the camp is in a different time zone...
Now we get the our first glance of the aliens. They are action figures, Micronauts I think, painted silver-chrome. Very very very silly. Worse than the laughable spastic movements of the marionette aliens is that they speak in EXPOSITORY DIALOGUE!!!!!!
Cut to a planetarium pretending to be a space command center. Cut to a cool CGI of a space shuttle. Cut to “our hero” Captain Parker (Eric Briant Wells) watching a screen saver of some science looking stuff. Cut to one of his lackeys. Cut back to the space shuttle. Cut to the alien space ship powering its weapons.
Boom no more space shuttle.
Cut back to Captain Parker being dressed down by General Murdock (Dan Cashman) giving a performance that would lose him a gig selling used cars on cable TV. “You don’t just LOSE a space shuttle...”
You get the idea. There is a torrent of fake, and silly military dialogue. Get used to it, it makes up 90% of the script for the rest of the movie.
Cut back to the camp where skin forms on the Yongarry skeleton just as Holly and Dr. Hugh arrive. The non-Korean workers start running around like idiots as Yongarry picks himself up from the ground.
To be fair, Yongarry is pretty okay looking for a CGI monster. It’s kind of like a blue Hulk Hogan with a dog-shaped head, a big nose horn, and spiky shoulder pads. Unfortunately for Dr. Campbell, Yongarry starts destroying the whole camp.
Dr. Campbell in a fit of what can only be described as flagrant stupidity, thinks he can control Yongarry with his voice. He even tries to reason with it. “You are my creation!”
Yongarry demonstrates his disapproval by stomping Dr. Campbell into the dirt like cigarette butt. There, the villain of the film is now nothing but Yongarry toe-cheese.
There’s still an hour to go.
Cut to Bud Black laying on the ground. This is the last we see of him. Did Yongarry give him the cucaracha treatment? I have no idea, and neither will you. But, on the upside, Bud Black never shows his face in the film again.
I guess the aliens controlling Yongarry aren’t all that bad.
Cut to a jeep speeding through... er... the desert (I kid you not) driven by east while supporting character "Sergeant Archie". He is speeding towards the Planetarium with Dr. Hugh and Holly in tow.
Wait a minute! KOREAN ALERT! Look at the bottom left corner of the windshield. The cameraman is clearly visible as a reflection.
Yongarry materializes right there in the road. He looks cold, really cold.
Cut to the planetarium. Endless moments of fake military dialogue between the new main characters of the film. General Murdock, General Thomas (Dennis Howard), and Captain Parker. They dispatch helicopters to deal with the monster.
Why? I have no idea. In all the military mumbo jumbo I started to daydream. Sue me, I OWN this movie so I can do that if I want to. Nya!
Yongarry destroys all of the choppers in a CGI sequence lifted directly out of the Emmerich/Devlin Godzilla.
At this point the military gets wind of the spaceship as it beams Yongarry... er... somewhere... it never makes it clear where he goes when he isn’t stomping on things. Anyway, the generals examine a wireframe model of the spaceship on a computer. The aliens must have the military’s IP address because they realize that they are spotted and destroy a communications satellite.
Apparently Earth has only one communications satellite because the Planetarium is cut off.
Meanwhile they have beamed Yongarry into a river cutting through “The City” and he promptly starts stomping the shit out of it. This is actually a pretty good scene and reminded me of “The Beast from 20000 Fathoms”. I will say this, Shin Hyung Rae’s Zero-9 CGI gang does a damn good job with building destruction. They sway, they lean, they crack and crumble, they fall. Overall these are the best effects in the movie. Better even than the miniature sequences Toho does.
Along one building there are stationed a group of soldiers? Cops? I am not sure because we only see them in far away shot. They are madly firing shot guns at Yongarry. He cooks them good with a blast of his flame breath (which appears to be on loan from Gamera).
Now General Murdock launches a wing of fighter jets. How many? I have no idea. There are four to start with, then six, then I counted eight... Hmmmmm... Continuity problem?
They engage Yongarry who defeats their military might by simply sidestepping every single missile fired at them. The pilot dialogue at this point is another script page from Emmerich and Devlin, this time though it’s “Independence Day”.
Pilot 1: I got a lock! Fox two away.
Pilot 2: Fox two.
Pilot 3: Fox two.
Pilot 1: Damn missed. Locking sidewinder. Fox four away.
This shit goes on for like ten minutes.
Big McLargehuge: I got the clicker. Mute button away!
Now we really get to see Yongarry. He looks less impressive now. Because all of the monster shots occur in the evening he, and all things near him, are tinted evening sky blue. Almost as if their CGI program was missing a color pallet or something. Hmmmmm.
We also get a few good shots of Yongarry moving through “The City”. Which city? Who cares? Certainly not the movie. It never says.
KOREAN ALERT! One sign was not rendered out of the background and clearly displays Korean characters.
Yongarry walks like he has a load in his pants. He doesn’t walk as much as he sort of waddles. Meanwhile, several of the planes are destroyed. Flash of light. Yongarry disappears again. Yadda yadda yadda.
Cut back to the planetarium. MORE fake military dialogue as the general’s try and figure out what to do next. Meanwhile A squirrely guy has entered the “secure” facility. He announces that he is from the NSIA whatever that is, and has knowledge of the aliens that may help the military. He rebuffs both general’s anger with some smarm and logic. “What would you do, build a worldwide defense system? We didn’t know when they were coming, we just knew that they were coming.”
Enter Dr. Hugh and Holly. They also have security clearance. Man, can anybody get in here? I guess when they do the Pink Floyd laser light show you need a ticket or something...
Hugh recognizes the NSIA guy and they have some expository dialogue. Apparently in the two years that Dr. Hugh was thought dead he was actually helping to study and alien body discovered in the cave set... I mean, the cave. NSIA guy is the principle villain for the rest of the movie. What does he do? Read on and learn.
Cut back to the alien micronaut puppets making exclamations that Earth will be conquered soon. Bwahahahahahaah... hahahahahah.....hahah.. ha. Considering they have not even beamed a list of demads to Earth my guess is that they won’t have much luck with their nefarious plan.
Now the military decides that if helicopters couldn’t hurt Yongarry, and jet fighters couldn’t hurt Yongarry, they are left with no other option but to...
Send out tanks?
Get more fighters?
Establish a defensive line of artillery?
What do they do?
They strap jet packs to Captain Parker and a bunch of Star Trek Red Shirts and send them out with machine guns to take Yongarry down. I will take a short intermission so you can laugh. They also release some stock footage of a Stealth Fighter. Apparently the President has authorized a nuke drop on "The City" if our Generals can't knock Yongarry down.
So Captain Parker and his platoon of KIAs drop out of some stock footage of a C-130 and fly Flash Gordon style at Yongarry.
Meanwhile back at the planetarium!
Dr. Hugh takes a octagonal key fob thingy out of his pocket and explains (like there would be some other kind of dialogue?) that it is a Damon (not a Wayans, just a Damon) that projects a shield around Yongarry from its resting place on the monster’s forehead and they should try and destroy it.
Now wouldn’t you think that such a shield would also protect the Damon?
But no, not in this movie. A sacrificial lamb soldier (one who volunteered I might add) that I will refer to as “Yongarry’s mid-movie snack” from now on, flies straight at the monster and fires a massive Vulcan cannon. The aliens are onto this trick it seems and begin teleporting Yongarry out. Yongarry's mid-movie-snack kamikaze's the Damon as Yongarry teleports.
The Damon explodes just as Yongarry’s mid-movie snack is eaten.
Flicker of the once flashing lights and Yongarry is still there in "The City".
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea? Anyway, Captain Parker shoots at Yongarry with his gun AND MISSES! For the over of God Yongarry is 500 feet tall and less than a block away!!!! How can you miss?
But since the monster is no longer under control of the spastic alien puppets he has no hard feelings.
Cut to two more fighters "dropping to the deck."
Pilot 1: I have good tone. Fox three.
Yongarry: Roar. He sidesteps another volley of missiles which slam into nearby buildings.
Pilot 2: I have good tone. Fox three away!
Yongarry sidesteps these missiles too (he must've studied kung-fu or something)
Cut to parker screaming into a cell phone or communicator, or something, for the pilots to stop.
Cut to the planetarium as the pilots are recalled by the generals.
Cut to the alien spacecraft where the alien action figures gesticulate wildly.
Cut back to the planetarium where cheers ring loud (disturbing a class of preschoolers watching the presentation under the big dome.. No, wait... just kidding). Dr. Hugh says, "Yongarry one of us now."
Er... I won't even address the stupidity of that statement.
Cut again to the battlefield where one of the buildings wrecked by a stray missile begins to topple down over Captain Parker. Yongarry throws himself into the wreckage allowing Parker to escape. Could it be that without alien control, Yongarry is a friend to humanity?
Cut to the seizing space aliens. Angry that their plan has failed they release another monster, Cykor, to finish what Yongarry had started. Cykor is a pretty cool looking four legged two armed crab-dog thing. He actually looks kind of like Gamera.
This hurts Yongarry pretty badly and he lumbers off and er... sort of passes out... I guess.
Anyway, Cykor starts wrecking shit a-la Yongarry. But Yongarry wakes up. A cool battle ensues where Cykor shoots tentacle things at Yongarry and Yongarry rips them off. He then rips off one of Cykor’s arm, then his head.
All bloodless of course.
Cykor continues to fight, but as is the case with all of these movies, he eventually dies when Yongarry drops a fireball into his neck. Yongarry walks off into the sunset as characters explain what just happened.
Cut back to the Planetarium as the generals are trying to recall the stock footage of the stealth fighter. Something is wrong with the computer (must be Windows machines). They are being jammed from inside the room. We learn this through expository dialogue (yawn).
Mills, the guy from the NSIA has jammed the computers with what appears to be a garage door opener. He bargains with the generals for the code to open the Planetarium door. Now how did he get in in the first place if he didn't have that code? Better not to ask these kind of questions...
Holly offers some a stellar argument as to why Mills should release the Planetarium's computers, "We're just trying to save lives," she says.
Interesting. No one seemed to think that way as every single missile slammed into a civilian structure during the climactic battle. But who cares. Dropping a nuke is never a good idea.
One of the generals gives Mills the code and he is about to flee as "Captain Archie" knocks him out. Archie was outside the door. He must've needed a bathroom break.
Cut to some awful one sided footage of the generals trying desperately (well, for this movie anyway) to abort the nuke drop.
Will they be successful? Of course, this isn't "Failsafe."
The stock footage returns to the stock footage room.
Everyone laughs and smiles that the crisis has been averted.
Whew... Now I know you are thinking that there sounds like some cool shit in this film. There is, but you have to know how to get to it.
Step 1. Mute the television or watch it in one of the language tracks that you don’t understand. French, Korean, Portugues, German, and Spanish are all on the DVD.
Step 2. Skip everything going on at the camp except the bit where Yongarry awakens and squishes Dr. Campbell.
Step 3. Fast forward to the stock footage of the C-130 and watch the Flash Gordon air battle.
Step 4. Fast forward again to when Cykor appears.
The DVD has some rather average features. The trailer which is better than the film it advertises, some production still of actors you will never want to see again (Brad Sergi, I’m looking in your direction...), there is a nice text history of the making of Yongarry 1999 and the subsequent rework and rerelease as Yongarry 2000/Reptillian and a useless stats about Yongarry.
That’s pretty much it.
This is a pretty good one to watch with some friends. The dialogue us so awful that you can effectively make your own up and have a grand time out Shatnering the “actors.” Also, it would make a good lead in to a double feature followed by one of the Heisei Gamera films, or Godzilla 2000 (A weak but passable entry from Japan).
It is important to watch this with the right person. At first I watched it with Mrs. McLargehuge and she was pretty upset that I forces 90 minutes of her life to elapse. I then watched it with a bunch of monster movies pals. They had pretty much the same reaction as Mrs. McLargehuge, but it was more fun because we all had a lot to say.
That said. Don’t buy this flick unless you are a giant monster movie fanatic and completist, an asylum inmate that can get packages past the nurse’s station, or suicidal (this may very well give you a reason to live i.e. finding and destroying all copies of this film).
For a fun post movie game, start a pool and see how many of Yongarry’s “actors” appear in television commercials. I’ve seen two already.