“I think what saddened me the most about Monsterz was the fact that Ringu director Hideo Nakata, is capable of so much more than this hamfisted mess of a film. Nakata had the opportunity to fix all that was wrong with the original. But instead, spewed out this horribly written, poorly directed, crapfest.”
by Nav Qateel
Since birth, a mysterious man (Tatsuya Fujiwara) has had the power to control the minds of others. He uses his power to do bad things, including murder and bank robbery. When he runs into Shuichi Tanaka (Takayuki Yamada), a man who appears to be immune to his mind-control, the killer decides he can’t allow Shuichi to live. What he doesn’t realise is that Shuichi was also born with unusual powers.
Monsterz is a remake of Kim Min-seok’s 2010 South Korean hit Haunters. I haven’t seen Haunters to know if it was anywhere near as dumb and as poorly written as this disaster. But, based on the reviews I read at the time … it was. Being a fan of Asian cinema I’m used to things not making a whole lot of sense much of the time. However, Monsterz takes the cake when it comes to sheer stupidity. The plot holes are also large and in abundance.
Japanese actor Tatsuya Fujiwara has been in several high-profile movies, with Battle Royal 1 & 2, and the movie versions of the brilliant anime Death Note among his filmography. In fact, it was playing the character of Light Yagami from Death Note that I first remember him. Here, Fujiwara plays a character creatively titled “man with special powers.” I labeled him “Constipation Man” because of the crazy look he would adopt while using his X-Men-style mind-control power. Similar to Bruce Banner changing into The Hulk when he got pissed, his eyes would change color then he appeared to hold his breath then squeeze real hard. And with this comical look, he would make his victims do his bidding.
Monsterz opens on a very young, blindfolded “man with special powers” being looked after by his mother. It would appear his mother and he have had to move into a small apartment, away from his father. When the father turns up and tells his wife to come back home but to leave the boy to his fate, “man with special powers” removes his blindfold then makes his father twist his head all the way around so it’s facing the wrong way. This becomes “man with special powers'” signature move. “Man with special powers” also has a very bad limp. At the beginning of the film we discover the young “man with special powers” has a large mark on his foot. When it leaps to the present he’s wearing a high-tech artificial leg; the type used so the wearer can walk almost perfectly. Not so with “man with special powers.” Instead, he drags the leg around as if it were amputated a few hours ago, then the artificial leg nailed to the stump! Why does he now have said artificial appendage? How did he come to have his powers? Those obvious questions and many, many more go unanswered.
The mind-control could be used for a great many things, especially for the criminally inclined. What “man with special powers” decides to do with this fantastic gift is occasionally make people rob a bank while he hobbles around outside waiting for the cash to be handed to him. His victims don’t ever remember what happened to them but they never seem to report it to the police. He also makes large groups of people freeze on the spot so he can wander among them. Oddly, no one ever notices 200 people standing still in the middle of the street. It’s while “man with special powers” is doing this to a random group of people, that he notices the unaffected Shuichi Tanaka (Takayuki Yamada).
Like with almost everything else in Monsterz, how and why Shuichi isn’t effected by the mind-control, or how he can regenerate his body after horrific and fatal injuries, isn’t touched upon, leaving us completely ignorant. At one point Shuichi is crushed under a huge concrete block. How he gets out from under it and where he goes to recuperate, remains a complete mystery. One minute he’s crushed to death, and the next he’s having lunch with his buddies! By the way, Shuichi’s overtly gay friend could take up another couple of paragraphs but I’ll leave it at that.
Most of the film is made up with these two chasing each another. And I lost count of the number of times they could’ve so easily killed their opposite. Instead, they would give a stupid speech, allowing the other one a chance to escape. This continued right up until the final scene, which was just as dumb as the rest of it. When the cops finally become involved in the hunt for “man with special powers,” their actions are beyond belief. The beautiful Satomi Ishihara playing the obligatory eyecandy, was one thing that made this film almost bearable.
Yûsuke Watanabe’s screenplay was bad by any standards, and surprisingly, he was chosen to write the screenplay for the live action version of Attack on Titan, a much loved anime that has a lot of interest, not only in its native Japan, but around the world. I think what saddened me the most about Monsterz was the fact that Ringu director Hideo Nakata, is capable of so much better than this hamfisted mess of a film. Nakata had the opportunity to fix all that was wrong with the original. But instead, spewed out this horribly written, poorly directed, crapfest. Monsterz is certainly watchable if you’re into films that are in the “so bad it’s good” category. Otherwise, forget it.