the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series spliced with Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids. From what I can gauge from browsing through the 60-odd unsubbed, undubbed Yatterman episodes currently on youtube, Miike and his team have produced a remarkably faithful live action version of the original series. In the film a teenage boyfriend/girlfriend crime fighting duo are charged with locating some powerful stone fragments before they fall into the hands of the Dorombo gang, headed up by the sexy Doronjo and her two bumbling henchmen. Hardly my thing, but the idea of Miike doing a children's film was weirdly fascinating - after all this is a director who filmed a woman drowning in a paddling pool of her own shit in Dead or Alive. Happily, the pre-pubescent young person in your life is in safe hands here and should go gaga for the relentless action, wide scale destruction, slapstick comedy, and eccentric retro-robots, augmented by some excellent CGI animation and design work. Fans of the director's usual stock and trade should find much to enjoy as well with some very sly touches of humour - at one point, one of the bad guys blissfully imagines himself lying on top of a mountain of schoolgirls, or the environmentally friendly weapons that fire squid ink, and the film turns surprisingly dark for the second half when the Yatterman team are spirited away to a metallic wilderness of cogs and clock parts to confront Dokurobei, the film's sinister demonic villain.
The reaction to the film in the West has been mostly positive but it's interesting to see how the film has been marketed, a tricky prospect considering Miike's fan base developed on the back of taboo-baiting films like Audition and Ichi the Killer. The notes on the sleeve of the Eureka Blu-Ray describe the film as "candy-coloured camp" as if it was some sort of eye-winking Barbarella style romp. Or perhaps it's a sign of the cultural shift between Japanese and Western attitudes. I suspect a scene where a female robot fires a volley of gunfire from its breasts would be completely inoffensive to young Japanese audiences but the British censors felt differently and slapped the film with a ludicrous 15 rating ("Contains infrequent strong sex references", my italics). Unfortunately the film seems destined to be seen only by adults, or at least young adults as the current home video editions of the film - the Eureka Blu and the Australian Madman DVD include only the original (subtitled) Japanese audio track. For the Takashi Miike fan who must see everything, the film is warmly recommended, but for the casual watcher, I'd recommend catching a taster of the film first.