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The Complete Daimajin Trilogy
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Box Front Includes: Daimajin, Return of Daimajin, and Wrath of Daimajin
Japanese Titles: Daimajin (“Giant Majin”), Daimajin Gyakushu (“Giant Majin’s Counterattack”), and Daimajin Ikaru (“Wrath of the Giant Majin”)
Original U.S. Release Titles: Majin:  Monster of Terror, Majin Strikes Again, and Return of the Giant Majin
Directors: Kimiyoshi Yasuda (Daimajin), Issei Mori (Return), and Kenji Misumi (Wrath)
Original Release Year: 1966 (all three!)
Running Time: 84 minutes, 87 minutes, and 79 minutes, respectively

DVD 3-Disc Set Released By: ADV Films
Video: Widescreen
Audio: Japanese mono
Extras: ADV previews
Subtitles: English
Closed Captions: None
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 8 per movie
Packaging: 3 discs in a triple-keepcase
MSRP: $24.98
UPC #: 702727030727
Catalog #: DALA/004
Status: Out of print


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Reviewed by:
Zillamon51
The Films: These three films feature Daimajin, a giant stone idol worshipped in feudal Japan.  When Daimajin’s followers are oppressed by brutal tyrants, the statue comes to life and wreaks vengeance on all those who defy him.  All three Daimajin films were produced and released in 1966.  (A remarkable achievement, considering the quality of each.)  Daimajin is one of only five daikaiju to star in on ongoing series (Godzilla, Gamera, Mothra, and Ultraman being the others).

Daimajin:  Samanosuke, chamberlain of the castle Yamanaka, stages a brutal coup.  The good and just Lord Hanabasa is murdered.  Fortunately, Kogenta, one of his trusted warriors, manages to save Hanabasa’s children.  They flee the kingdom, and live out the next ten years on Daimajin’s mountain, where few people dare to tread.  Samanosuke becomes a brutal overlord, using the people as slave labor.  When Kogenta and the prince are captured and scheduled to be executed, it up to Princess Kozasa to awaken Daimajin.  However, the angry god may not just crush Samanosuke and his forces; he may lay waste to the entire kingdom!

Return of Daimajin:  A group of woodcutters from a peaceful mountain village are taken captive by Arakawa, ruler of a neighboring domain.  Lord Arakawa is building a huge fort, and plans to conquer the surrounding kingdoms.  He uses his prisoners as slaves.  Any who defy him are thrown into pits of hot sulfur.  Four children, brothers of the captured woodcutters, attempt to make the perilous journey over Daimajin’s mountain and into Hell’s Valley.  However, they must overcome hostile terrain, freezing temperatures, and pursuing soldiers.  Will Daimajin once again awaken and help them rescue their brothers and stop Lord Arakawa?

Wrath of Daimajin:  Lord Danjo of Mikoshiba covets the rich lake and lands of his neighbors.  He quickly conquers the friendly kingdoms of Nagoshi and Chigusa.  To break the people’s faith in their god, he sends his men to blow up the statue of Daimajin, which is on an island in the lake.  The rightful heirs, Lord Juro and Lady Sayuri, try and fail to take back their kingdoms.  Only when Daimajin rises from the lake will Lord Danjo’s treachery come to an end.

The
Daimajin trilogy is a unique combination of Japan’s samurai and giant monster genres.  While all three films have similar plots, they are also different enough to remain interesting.  The first film presents Daimajin at his most destructive.  Even after the evil warlord is killed, it appears that the angry god might continue to lay waste to the entire kingdom.  Return is the slowest of the three films.  However, the four young leads are genuinely likeable and never annoying, which helps the film tremendously.  Wrath may be the best of the trilogy.  It has the quickest pace, and the lake setting helps to set it apart.  All three films benefit from beautiful scenery, musical scores by Akira Ifukube, and great special effects.  Daimajin is truly an imposing figure.  When he comes to life, the statue’s blank face is replaced by a more organic one, through which the actor uses only his eyes to chillingly project the god’s wrath.  The miniatures are also excellent.  All of the period buildings are exquisitely detailed, so much so that when Daimajin smashes them, rows of individual clay tiles slide right off the rooftops.  While slower paced than most kaiju eiga, these three films are still wonderful productions and are highly recommended.  Grade for the series:  A-

Video: Each film in the Daimajin trilogy is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen.  The film prints are in good shape.  They occasionally show their age with speckles and lines.  There are several instances of white squiggly lines appearing onscreen.  This happens mostly during the first film, and only once during Return.  Overall, the transfers are good, though it’s regrettable they’re not anamorphically enhanced.  Some scenes appear dull, mostly interiors.  The first film (the darkest of the three) suffers the most from this.  Overall, Wrath (the brightest film) has the best picture.  Grade:  B

Audio: All three films are presented in the original Japanese mono.  The dialogue, Daimajin’s pounding footfalls, and maestro Ifukube’s ominous and haunting music come through loud and clear.  Although the films were dubbed into English many years ago, those dubs aren’t included.  Undoubtedly, these artfully-made films play better in their original Japanese language.  Grade:  B+

Extras / Menus: All of the menus have background music.  The main menus are still images; the selection windows on the chapter select menus have animated film clips.  Disc 1 includes a promotional trailer for the Daimajin trilogy.  Disc 2 includes trailers for ADV’s releases of Destroy All Monsters (set to ADV’s infamous “Do it Now” music), The Hypnotist, Parasite Eve, and Gamera:  Guardian of the Universe.  There are no supplements on disc 3.  Grade:  D

Final Analysis: Three great films in one attractive package, at a price that’s hard to beat.  It’s too bad the video isn’t anamorphic, but it’s great that all three are presented in their original Japanese language with very well-done English subtitles.  Final Grade:  B+
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