Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review: Karate-Robo Zaborgar @ NYAFF

We live in an era where beloved franchises are given new life through reboots and remakes.  So often we see a new film or series trying to recapture the hearts and minds of today's youth using the very same characters and stories that captured our own.  For the most part all of these attempts turn out to be complete and utter crap.  Now imagine a director who pays homage to yesterday's characters with the loving humor and crass vulgarity of a Friar's Club Roast... can you see it?  Did you envision a sweets-obsessed special agent and his transforming robot/motorcycle best-friend?  If so, you are either a complete weirdo or grew up in 1970's Japan, because what you see before you is Karate-Robo Zaborgar!

This past weekend we had the pleasure of experiencing this cinematic roasting first-hand, thanks to our great friends at Midtown Comics and the New York Asian Film Festival.  The NYAFF, as it will be referred to from here-on out, is a celebration of film from the Far East.  You can see some of everything here: classic Kung-fu from Hong Kong (Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain - 1983), Family Comedies from Japan (Ninja Kids!!! - 2011), your favorite Manga brought to life (Gantz & Gantz: Perfect Answer - 2011) and even Rock & Roll Zen Buddhist Monks (Abraxas - 2010).  These are just some of the over 40 titles screening at the NYAFF, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.  You can check it out now through July 14th at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center. Subway Cinema & the Film Society Lincoln Center have joined to bring a fantastic selection of movies that will capture the imagination of all movie-goers.

Back to this crazy-ass robot-kung-fu-cyborg-monster-mash that is Karate-Robo Zaborgar.  The concept in and of itself is pretty insane.  Would you ask a director who's got more "adult videos" on his wikipedia profile credited to him than anything else touch your childhood memories?  (Insert pedophile and/or cheesy porn title joke here.)  Despite what outsiders may consider a shady history, director Noboru Iguchi, who is apparently best known for crude jokes and ultra-violence, pulls together a wild but family-friendly adventure.  My first impression was "what if Quentin Tarantino was tasked with creating a PG remake of the Power Rangers."  Are you scared?  Rightfully so.  Excited? You are my people.

If you don't like it they will Triple Dragon-Kick your face in.
I need to say that I have no idea what the original series, Denjin Zaborgar, was like.  I also have no intention of finding out.  You can't judge me, you weren't going to check either.  The plot plays out like any family adventure, our Hero teams with a fantastical robot, Zaborgar, to fight the mad plans of an evil organization, Sigma.  If you look back at any of your old favorite TV shows you begin to notice all of the gapping plot-holes that are covered up with action and silly jokes.  In Zaborgar, these holes are not just left as is, instead it feels like Trey Parker & Matt Stone played mad-libs with the original plot.  The main character had a twin brother who died of (blank - noun)... "How about male breast milk?"  Did I make that up as a joke for this post or is it really in the movie?  You'll get the answer at the end of this post.  These funny moments come completely out of left-field and keep the adult viewers from getting bored with the sillier main plot.

Zaborgar Versus Diarrhea Robot
I wish I was making it up...
All in all it was a fun experience that makes me want to check out the rest of the lineup at NYAFF. Even if this movie isn't for you, there's plenty to see, so check them out at  If you do check them out this weekend you just might run into a member of IGH.  I hear Wilderowens is totally going to see Horny House of Horror.

Btw, the answer is yes.

O tanoshimi kudasai!

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