Yamato Takeru (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 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 Oto, who joins him on his journey. They, along with their companions Genbu and Seiryu, 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
- Produced by Shogo Tomiyama, Tomoyuki Tanaka (executive)
- Music by Kiyoko Ogino, Glay, Yoshiki Hayashi
- Cinematography by Yoshinori Sekiguchi, Kenichi Eguchi
- Edited by Nobuo Ogawa
- Production Design by Fumio Ogawa, Tetsuzo Osawa
- Assistant Directing by Kunio Miyoshi, Okihiro Yoneda
- Special Effects by Koichi Kawakita, Takao Okawara (Kumasogami sequence), Kenji Suzuki (assistant director)
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Masahiro Takashima as Ousu / Yamato Takeru
- Yasuko Sawaguchi as Oto Tachibana
- Hiroshi Abe as Tsukuyomi
- Miyashi Ishibashi as Seiryu
- Bengal as Genbu
- Saburo Shinoda as Emperor, Father of Osu
- Hiroshi Fujioka as Kumaso Takeru
- Yuki Meguro as Susano-o
- Akira Koieyama as Osu's Brother
- Keaki Mori as Osu's Mother
- Koichi Ueda as
- Hurricane Ryu Hariken as Kumasogami
- Kenpachiro Satsuma as Orochi
- Wataru Fukuda as Utsuno Ikusagami
Yamato Takeru 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 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: Yamato Takeru (film)/Gallery.
- Main article: Yamato Takeru (Soundtrack).
- Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon (English Title)
- Madra the Eight-Headed Monster (Madra die Acht-Headed Monster; German)
- Japan - July 9, 1994
Yamato Takeru was dubbed into English by a Hong Kong studio. Voice actors included Chris Hilton as Emperor Keikou and Seiryu, and Rik Thomas as Tsukinowa and Kumaso Takeru. The film went direct to video in the United States under the title Orochi, the Eight-Headed Dragon. ADV Films first released it on VHS in 1999, then on DVD in 2003.
Yamato Takeru 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 scheduled for 1997 but ultimately cancelled.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Yamato Takeru 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, in part 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."
ADV Films DVD (2003)
- Region: 1
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Mono)
- Special Features: Trailers
- Notes: Out of print.
Though Yamato Takeru 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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