Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994)
Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon (ヤマトタケル is a Yamato Takeru, lit. Yamato Takeru)1994 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Pictures. The film was released to Japanese theaters by Toho on July 9, 1994.
The film begins with the birth of twin princes. One of the twins is named Ousu, and is loathed by his father, the Emperor of Yamato. The emperor is convinced that his loathing of Ousu is a premonition, and he orders the shaman named Tsukinowa to kill the child. But his plans are thwarted by Amano Shiratori, the White Bird of the Heavens. The Emperor's sister views this as a clear sign of divine intervention, and takes it upon herself to raise the young prince.
Years later, when Prince Ousu has matured into a man, he is given pardon by the Emperor and allowed to return to his father's castle. Unfortunately, not long after, his mother falls ill and mysteriously dies. This sends his brother Ousu into a rage, causing him to attack Ousu, who defends himself and kills his sibling in the process. His father, furious at these events, orders his son to leave the castle and not return until the barbarians living in the Kumaso domain are dealt with. The prince makes dealing with these barbarians his top priority, and quickly takes off. He stops at a shrine on his way, where, after a quick battle, he befriends the beautiful but mysterious Ototachibana, who joins him on his journey. Along with their companions Genbu and Seiryu, they raid the barbarian castle, killing Kumaso Takeru and their god Kumasogami. Following this feat, the prince changes his name and becomes Yamato Takeru.
However, he still fails to win the acceptance of his father, and Yamato's aunt warns him of a great threat looming overhead. The god Tsukuyomi is posed to return, endangering the Earth, and Yamato Takeru must prepare to halt this from occurring.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Takao Okawara
- Written by Wataru Mimura
- Executive producer Shogo Tomiyama
- Music by Kiyoko Ogino
- Theme song "RAIN"
- Performed by GLAY
- Lyrics by YOSHIKI
- Composed by YOSHIKI, TAKURO
- Arranged by YOSHIKI
- Cinematography by Yoshinori Sekiguchi
- Edited by Nobuo Ogawa
- Production design by Fumio Ogawa
- 1st assistant director Kunio Miyoshi
- Director of special effects Koichi Kawakita; Takao Okawara (Kumasogami sequence)
- 1st assistant director of special effects Kenji Suzuki
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Masahiro Takashima as Prince Ousu / Yamato Takeru
- Yasuko Sawaguchi as Oto Tachibana
- Hiroshi Abe as Tsukuyomi
- Hiroshi Fujioka as Kumaso Takeru
- Saburo Shinoda as Emperor Keiko, Takeru's father
- Miyashi Ishibashi as Seiryu
- Bengal as Genbu
- Keaki Mori as Empress Inahi, Takeru's mother
- Yuki Meguro as Susanoo
- Akaro Maro as Tsukinowa
- Miho Akishino as Etachibana, Oto's sister
- Akira Koieyama as Ousu, Takeru's brother
- Koichi Ueda
- "Hurricane" Ryu Hariken as Kumasogami
- Kenpachiro Satsuma as Yamata no Orochi
- Wataru Fukuda as Utsuno Ikusagami
- Yuij Saeki as Kaishin Muba
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Jack Murphy as Prince Yamato Takeru
- Chris Hilton as Emperor Keiko / Seiryu
- Warren Rooke as Genbu
- Rik Thomas as Tsukinowa / Kumaso Takeru
Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon was originally scheduled to go into production following the release of Godzilla vs. Mothra in 1992. The original story was a remake of Toho's 1959 epic The Three Treasures, but director Takao Okawara, mindful of the studio's plans for a trilogy, made numerous revisions, including the addition of the Imperial Regalia of Japan and Yamato Takeru's two companions. He approached the material "not as a period piece, but instead as a futuristic drama imagined by people living in the past."
The final battle between Yamata no Orochi and Utsuno Ikusagami was significantly edited at the request of Toho executives, who felt the film was too long. A second scene of Yamato Takeru jumping onto one of Orochi's heads was also cut.
- Main article: Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon/Gallery.
- Main article: Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon/Soundtrack.
- Yamato Takeru (Japanese title / alternate English title)
- Prince Yamato (alternate English title)
- Orochi, the Multiheaded Dragon (alternate English title)
- Madra the Eight-Headed Monster (Madra die Acht-Headed Monster, Germany)
- Japan - July 9, 1994
Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon was dubbed into English in Hong Kong. Voice actors included Chris Hilton as Emperor Keiko and Seiryu, and Rik Thomas as Tsukinowa and Kumaso Takeru. The film went direct to video in the United States under its international title. ADV Films first released it on VHS in 1999, then on DVD in 2003.
Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon performed poorly at the Japanese box office, grossing only ¥800,000,000 with approximately 1,500,000 admissions. By comparison, Toho's other 1994 kaiju film, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, made ¥1,650,000,000. Its failure forced the studio to eventually abandon its plans for a trilogy, with a sequel featuring a new monster named Bagan scheduled for 1997, but ultimately cancelled.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon currently has a 30% Audience Score, based on over 1,000 ratings. Its average rating there is 2.9/5. The film remains fairly obscure among kaiju fans due to its limited availability on home video. Toho Kingdom's Anthony Romero gave the movie a 1.5/5 rating, citing it as "pretty lackluster across the board" being "plagued by a weak script and a hollow cast of characters", with "bland acting, [and] special effects", and a musical score that "would have been more appropriate for a television show". However, he does state that the monsters featured in the film "were well done in terms of details," though they "are far less impressive once they are seen in motion". Writing for Alternate Ending, Tim Brayton took aim at its low production values, calling it "an early '80s European fantasy adventure with just enough of a distinct Japanese sensibility in the themes and dialogue to mark it out."
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)
- Special features: Trailers
- Notes: Out of print.
Toho DVD (2004)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Subtitles: Japanese
- Notes: The DVD has been reissued twice since its initial release on August 27, 2004: on February 7, 2014, and on August 19, 2015.
Though Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon is not available on Blu-ray, an HD version can be rented or purchased on the Japanese versions of Amazon Video and iTunes.
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