November 12, 2005

UMIZARU (Sea Monkeys) - HK R3 DVD review

UMIZARU (2004 Japanese movie) - Hong Kong Region 3 DVD release

I was expecting an action adventure, but instead got a rites of passage story following a squad of trainee Japanese Coast Guard rescue divers (nicknamed 'Sea Monkeys'). The TOP GUN formula is followed so closely, there are even dollops of male nudity throughout the film. It's like a grown-up version of the popular WATERBOYS movie and TV series (also produced. by Fuji TV).
Despite many corny scenes, the likeable cast make it very watchable, though the lead is, dare I say, a bit drippy. It's undemanding, but still packs a few flourishes (like an extremely creepy underwater hallucination). As always, it's simply interesting to see more of Japanese life - a parallel society mirroring western life and technology, but different in locale and custom.
UMIZARU seems to be setting up either more films, or a TV series (check out the end credit tease), so I'm guessing there'll be further adventures. Unsurprisingly, the whole project started out as a popular manga...
This Region 3 DVD is labelled as "Standard Edition" and contains one movie-only disc. (On the menu it says "Disc 1", so I presume there's also a 2 disc version as well.) The optional english subtitles are very well translated. The DTS 6.1 audio is full, punchy and complements the rich musical soundtrack.


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