Friday, February 3, 2017

licence to il.

With the inauguration of Donald J Trump, everyone around the world seems to have forgotten that there were power mad mental haired dictators before he came to power whom we also worried about in regards to human rights or whether they'd go crazy ape bat shit and blow up the world.

If anything Trump is really an amateur  when it comes to tango-tanned tin-pot dictatorships.

I mean he never gave us one of the world's greatest monster movies.

For that we have to thank the late, great Kin Jong-Il.

Comrades, I give you...

Pulgasari (1985).
Dir: Shin Sang-ok, Chong Gon Jo and most probably Kim Jong-Il.
Cast: Chang Son Hui, Ham Gi Sop, Jong-uk Ri, Gwon Ri, Gyong-ae Yu, Brian Blessed (possibly) and Geoff Pulgasari as himself.

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"I can't just sit here and cry all the time!"




The time is somewhere between 918 and 1391 AD (that's the Koryo Dynasty fact fans - who says this blog isn't educational?) and the evil bearded governor of the Korean province of, um, West Bromwich has decreed that all the iron in the area is to be confiscated and used to fashion all manner of pointy, sharp weapons.

Not for fashion weapons tho' that would be silly.

Pretty soon all the men folk are sick and tired of having to live off Pot Noodles and take-aways so decide the time is right to stage a revolution.

Right on!

Takse (Ri), the local blacksmith and calm man wanders around urging everyone to just get on with it and stop complaining but his bowl headed apprentice Inde (someone else) has other ideas and sets him self up as a self styled revolutionary leader.

After a couple of weeks of grumpy disagreements and interminable political rhetoric between the two friends, the governor decides to claim Taske's iron too and, surprise surprise the blacksmith then decides that maybe Inde had the right idea.

Takse's plan is stunning in it's simplicity; he gets up in the middle of the night and stashes all his iron under the bed before telling the governor's men that a legendary beast named Pulgasari (as himself) snuck in and ate it all during the night.

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"Raugh Row!"



The governor, not being a small boy, thinks Takse's story is utter bollocks and promptly throws him in jail along with Inde and his stinky band of angry peasant followers.

Score one for justice and law abiding folk!

Not having any iron spare to make cutlery, microwave ovens or chairs means that the prisoners all end up sitting in their own shite on hard stone floors (probably catching piles) with nothing to eat but beetles, so Takse's two annoyingly twee children, Ami (Hui) and Ana (Ri, the other one listed, it's not like he plays two parts) decide to throw scraps of food to their father through the window of his cell.

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"Ah fell aff mah beanstalk Ian!"


But rather than eat it (or even share it with the others the selfish bastard) Takse fashions the food into a little troll - like doll before dying of (you guessed it) starvation.

So far, so depressing.

Ami, being the favourite child (and having the less amusing haircut of the two) ends up inheriting the doll, carrying it around with her and occasionally chatting to it but one day whilst sewing a revolutionary bedspread accidentally cuts herself dripping blood all over it.

Frankly I'd slit my wrists if I was in her position too but that's neither her nor there because, believe it or not the blood causes the doll comes to life!

Not only that but it starts to eat any scraps of iron lying about!

Could this be the legendary left wing monster and hero of the people Geoff Pulgasari?

Um, yes.

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"Blade in mah mooth!"


Geoff, thanks to a diet of old tin cans and spoons grows bigger and bigger (well big-ish, about the size of an average toddler) everyday and is soon ready for his first mission as an heroic communist kaiju, heading off to save Inde from the executioner's chopping block.

The daring (if not incredibly comically, seeing as the entire scene consists of watching a grown man with a stick on beard wrestle a stiff rubber doll) rescue is a success and Inde and his band of pikey layabouts head off to the mountains to hide.

Back home, Ami and Ana are busy celebrating the fact that a small child in a knobbly gimp suit is going to lead Korea and her people to freedom and how he will save them all from, um bad stuff.

Well, I've heard worse.

Time passes and Geoff is now the size of your average Korean stuntman in a suit and has begun to get those typical big monster kick arse urges, so he persuades the local farmers to start a fight with the kings men offering to help win the battle if he can eat all their swords and amour etc.

Which sounds an OK plan to me.

After a few more battles (well half a dozen folk in fake beards running at each other yelling "Aaaaiiieeehhh!") and a few more metal meals, the Pulgasari grows to a gigantic 100 feet tall.

Yet scarily still looks like a man in a mould covered gimp suit.


"And it's goodnight from me"
"And it's goodnight from him!"


Everything is going swimmingly until Korea's most evilly bearded general (Blessed) offers to take out Geoff and company.

It seems that General Brian has discovered Pulgasari's secret, that our big beast buddy must protect Ami at all costs.

A fact he plans to use to his advantage.

This ingenious plan involves kidnapping Ami whilst she's out collecting water for the rebels then tying her to a pole behind a big wooden shed (disguised as an all the metal you can eat buffet) so that when Pulgasari goes inside he can set fire to the beast.

The fact that our big boned pal is made entirely of metal (as opposed to bits of rotting food as you'd imagine) doesn't seem to worry Brian one bit.

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"I'm fucking your mum!"


Which is probably why he looks more bored than shocked when Pulgasari start glowing white hot and with anyone who goes near him bursting into flames.

Never one to give up, General Blessed moves onto plan two (firing rockets at Geoff) and finally plan three (digging a big hole) but he can only watch in mild apathy as Pulgasari continues his journey toward the kings castle, stopping only to squash the aforementioned monarch under foot.

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"Foot in mah mooth!"


Celebrating their freedom and the birth of a new socialist state the peasants prepare a huge banquet but the festivities are soon put on hold when they realize that poor old Pulgasari just can't just stop eating iron and it's not long before he too is demanding that everyone has to give him all their iron farming and cooking implements too.

Can you see what they've done there?

Luckily for the workers, Ana (being a girl and therefore untrustworthy) has been secretly getting advice from Bernard Majin, AKA Mr. Monster of Terror and he has a plan to defeat Pulgasari once and for all....

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"Pulgasari, up the casino, 1984....Yesch!"



Pulgasari is a film born out of legend and hearsay that is, quite possibly much more entertaining than the movie itself.

Directed (kind of) by famed South Korean director Shin San-Ok after he'd been kidnapped by the Northern regime on the direct orders of leader in waiting and well known monster movie fan Kim Jong-il, the director manage to escape a matter of weeks before it was completed leaving hack for hire Chong Gon Jo to complete it.

All this became immaterial however when the illustrious leader realized that the completed film was utter pants from start to finish and refused to release it.

Which just goes to show that world dictators, whilst being well versed in crushing uprisings and keeping the workers under control, know next to nothing about what makes a great historical monster movie because Pulgasari, in my humble opinion is probably one of the greatest and most heart warming films ever made.

Walking that fine line between entertainment and historical drama, in much the same way as Schindler's List, Pulgasari may not be as rib-ticklingly funny as Spielberg's opus but it's a darn sight more factually accurate and miles more entertaining.

Frankly it's a must see, especially if you have any interest in world affairs, history, big rubber monster and 'the politics'.

Or comedy hats.

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