Plot: What’s it about?
Yamato Takeru (Masahiro Takashima) is a prince who once had a bright future, but now he faces a darker life. He has a magical amulet, one that has incredible powers, ones that Yamato was unable to control. After the amulet turned him into a beast, he killed his own brother in a brutal rage attack. Yamato had been trained by two of the kingdom’s finest warriors, so he was a fierce man even without the amulet. But now he has been banished from his father’s kingdom, so that he can learn to harness his powers with more skill. If he could control his immense powers, he could be the most powerful warrior in all of the lands. So he and his trainers venture out of the kingdom, when the incredible adventure begins. The three men soon encounter Oto, a woman who can shoot fireballs from her hands, a worthwhile trait. She joins the party and soon enough, they do battle with a fire demon that threatens Yamato’s home. But this is just the start for Yamato, as he is forced to shoulder the burden of saving the world. An evil god is about to invade Earth, with plans to overtake the planet and assume control. This creature has been to the planet before and left behind a trail of destruction, so Yamato must stop its efforts. But can he control his powers and defeat the monster, or will his powers overwhelm him again?
If you’re a fan of kaiju cinema or Ray Harryhausen’s creations, then you’ll want to check out Orochi: The Eight-Headed Dragon. This movie blends mystical creatures, kaiju style monsters, a fantasy storyline, and some awesome special effects. Orochi is by no means a great picture, but I had fun and I think it is a solid movie. You can tell Toho had high hopes for Orochi, as the production values are excellent. The special effects look terrific for a Japanese production, especially the various monster creations. The battles that involve the monsters are a blast to watch, as the visuals really shine in those sequences. The storyline is thin, but we don’t need depth to enjoy this kind of movie, if you ask me. A lot of the elements have been ported from other movies, but I never had a problem with that aspect of Orochi. But the film is just too damn serious, as if the producers were told this was a Merchant Ivory style period piece. The flick has very little in terms of humor, which is a shame, as a lighter take could have worked wonders. The performances suffer the most, as this is just not the kind of movie where you need dead serious actors. Even so, Orochi was a fun watch and for fans of kaiju and fantasy cinema, it is worth a look. ADV’s disc is bare bones, but the movie looks good, so at least a rental is in order.
Video: How does it look?
Orochi: The Eight-Headed Dragon is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. The case lists this as a full frame treatment but rest assured, the film is shown in its proper format here. I do wish this was anamorphic, but at least the print is in solid condition, aside from some grain. A few scenes do display thick grain, but for the most part, the print looks quite good. The film’s vivid colors come across well, which is important, while contrast is only hindered when heavy grain is present. As I said, anamorphic would have been nice, but even as is, this is a solid presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
You’ll find dual language tracks have been included here, as the original Japanese soundtrack is joined by an English dub option. As always, I recommend the original language and with good reason, as dubs almost always lose the intended texture of the material. I know subtitles aren’t perfect either, but at least you hear the dialogue as intended, instead of via some haphazard voice talent crew. The dialogue is well placed and never hard to understand, while the music & sound effects are also well presented. You won’t be dazzled here, but the material is covered and that’s what counts. This disc also includes optional English subtitles, so even if you don’t speak Japanese, you’re covered here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.