Reptilian (aka Yonggary 2001, 1999) Movie Review

With the resurgence of Godzilla and Gamera in the 1990s, South Korea’s Zero Nine Entertainment threw their hat into the kaiju ring with the return of Yonggary. Back after a 34-year absence in which he wasn’t particularly missed, the new film attempts big budget aspirations on a shoestring budget. The result is a dismal attempt at a monster film that invokes unintentional laughs instead of thrills.

The film (dubbed “Reptilian” for its American release) opens with a group of scientist discovering the buried body of a gigantic creature while excavating a remote site. Extraterrestrials quickly arrive and re-animate the creature — dubbed Yonggary — and vanish back into space. The aliens plan to use Yonggary to take over the Earth by transporting him to various American cities in hopes the military will use nuclear weapons against him and start World War III. The United States military manages to discover the alien’s plan by deciphering a tablet found when Yonggary originally disappeared. After their plans are foiled, the aliens transport Cykker, another monster, to destroy Yonggary and the planet.

It’s difficult to say why this film was made because kaiju fans weren’t exactly banging on the studio’s door demanding another Yonggary film. It’s doubtful they were even aware the character existed, and this effort certainly won’t endear him to their hearts. Neophyte director Hyeung-rae Shim (director of the upcoming dragon epic “D-War”) does a marginally competent job at keeping the film going, and on occasion shows the audience some nice visual shots. All that is undermined by Marty Poole’s ridiculous screenplay, which seems like it was written after he suffered a serious head injury.

The plot is scant and illogical, and features some truly horrendous dialogue and the cast seems to visibly wince when reciting. However the actors aren’t blameless either; the performances range from the overacted to the truly dreadful. The only exception is Donna Philipson, who seems to take her performance seriously despite the quality of the film she’s in. It is admirable to see someone put so much effort into a film that’s hardly worth it.

All this might possibly be bearable if the special effects were impressive enough to distract from what was occurring onscreen. But the effects, credited to Demolition Ltd., Zero Nine Digital, and Yonggu-Art Movies, are amateurish and unconvincing. The computer-generated creatures look cartoonish and are entirely unconvincing when spliced together with live action footage and miniature models.

Although the filmmakers probably intended the film to be a science fiction thrill ride, the result is a hilariously bad movie. It’s an incompetent production that pales when compared to the Godzilla and Gamera films it is attempting to compete against. Audiences looking for a good laugh and bad movie fans will probably find enjoyment in this film. Anyone else should shun it like the plague and hope Yonggary’s next film, if there ever is one, will be an improvement.

Hyung-rae Shim (director)
CAST: Dan Cashman …. Lt. Murdock
Bruce Cornwell …. Mr. Mills
Dennis Howard …. Maj. Thomas
Matt Landers …. Maj. Howell

Buy Yonggary on DVD